Natchitoches Parish School Board Awarded $100,000 to Establish Unique “Ready Start Network”
BATON ROUGE, La. – The Natchitoches Parish School Board has received a $100,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to pilot new strategies to increase access to and improve the quality of publicly funded early childhood care and education. It is one of six communities across the state selected to guide this work.
The six communities, called Ready Start Networks, will spend the next two years developing new local governance structures; assessing local demand for early care and education; providing resources and training to teachers to improve classroom quality; implementing fundraising strategies; and sharing their findings with state leaders to inform future policymaking.
In Natchitoches, the team, led by Cassaundra Cole, will do this by:
- Gathering and using new data to better inform the work of the Ready Start Network.
- Sharing information with stakeholders—from parents, to educators, to community and elected officials to help them all better understand the work that is happening and what work needs to happen.
- Formalizing a diverse stakeholder leadership board to ensure a strong plan is developed, initiated, and worked; this plan will ensure strong community buy-in, parental support, and local leadership for important network-wide issues.
“We know how quickly our youngest learners grow and develop and how important the first five years are for future success. Natchitoches has been fortunate to have support for early childhood development from community leaders for years and we look forward to using this grant to expand that support and develop a truly sustainable model to support our youngest learners in Natchitoches,” says Natchitoches early childhood lead Cassaundra Anderson.
Tony Davis, BESE member, Natchitoches native, and a key supporter of the community-led initiatives, agreed, “Louisiana’s future is tied to the success of its children, and we have the opportunity to transform our future in one generation. Everyone has a shared responsibility to support the economy of today and shape the workforce of tomorrow. Communities working together will ensure this vision.”