(KADN) — On Monday, Dec. 9, the Louisiana Department of Education released a Request for Applications (RFA) for Round 2 of the Early Childhood Network Pilots, building on 15 parishes that have already begun to unify their systems of early childhood education.
The pilot program is the central strategy in the state's implementation of Act 3 of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session, which calls on the state to unify a system of early childhood education that is currently fragmented into multiple, inequitable systems.
Today only half of Louisiana children enter kindergarten with basic number and letter recognition skills.
The first round of 15 pilot parishes has united to oversee quality education, have trained teachers through unified professional development, have measured child development in common ways, and have launched shared enrollment systems for four year olds.
In this second round, first-time applicants can apply for funding, as can current pilots that wish to expand by adding partners from neighboring parishes.
By fall 2015, the law requires all parishes to have achieved a unified system.
"Only half of Louisiana children enter kindergarten recognizing 26 letters and able to count to 20," said State Superintendent John White. "Changing this starts with unifying our expectations for all students. By applying to participate in the second round of pilots, communities have the opportunity to begin this important work prior to the 2015 statewide expansion."
The Louisiana State Legislature created the Early Childhood Network because Louisiana has multiple early childhood programs operating with public funds but widely varying expectations for children.
First-round pilots have accomplished the goal of unifying early education operators using five key strategies:
Train staff to use Louisiana's new Birth to Five Early Learning and Development Standards
Use CLASS professional development tool and Teaching Strategies GOLD assessments of child development
Identify all infant-to-age-five children in the community attending or in need of publicly-funded child care and education services
Plan to serve all eligible four-year-olds by July 1, 2015
Use a common enrollment process for all programs, starting with four-year-olds for fall 2015
Starting this spring, the first set of pilot communities will combine funding in new and innovative ways to increase the number of children served.
In their second year, they will continue to coordinate professional development so that all teachers receive meaningful feedback. They will also refine their enrollment processes, making it easier for families through a common application.
The award for each Community Network Pilot is estimated to range between $80,000 and $350,000. Currently, these awards are allocated through a combination of state 8g grants and federal funds.
To apply, an electronic copy of the application and all attachments must be submitted to the Department's account at box.com by 4:00 p.m. CST on January 22, 2014. Applicants should contact Kaye Eichler at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive instructions.
Click here to access the RFA for further details on the pilots and the application process and requirements.
After both an application and a phase 2, interview process, a list of Round 2 Network Pilots will be announced in March 2014.
For more information on early childhood education in Louisiana, please click here.
For a presentation on the framework of the Early Child Care and Education Network, please click here.