NPR News, Classical and Music of the Delta
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Local Legislators and business leaders Join the United Way of Northeast Louisiana in celebration of Louisiana Early Ed Month

Today, local legislators and business leaders attended Early Learning Day for Northeast Louisiana hosted by the United Way of Northeast Louisiana, the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana, and Claiborne Christian Preschool as part of the annual 2023 Louisiana Early Ed Month happening throughout the month of February across Louisiana.

Today’s event held in partnership between the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC), the Louisiana Early Childhood Business Roundtable, Louisiana Association of United Ways (LAUW), The Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana, and United Way of Northeast Louisiana, gathered local policymakers, business leaders and partners in the Northeast Louisiana community to place a spotlight on the critical and ongoing need to increase and improve access to quality early care and education for children, birth through age four, throughout the state.

“Our mission is to help our families achieve their potential and live healthy, financially stable lives. Providing children a strong start in life and education while supporting parents in the workforce is foundational for thriving families,” said Janet Durden, President of United Way of Northeast Louisiana. “With approximately 57% of Louisiana’s children living in households with income below the ALICE threshold in 2019, robust investments in high-quality early care and education should be a priority for our state’s investments.”

“Access to early childhood education has long term impacts from high school graduation rates to economic development. These foundational years of a child’s life impacts both the family and community,” said Kristie Bardell, Executive Director of Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana. “We are committed to bringing forth the voices of childcare providers and community members to create thriving communities.”

Today, one of Louisiana Early Ed Month’s signature events was held at Claiborne Christian Preschool, which enabled a tour of the center for a firsthand perspective of what high-quality early care and education look like, the challenges providers and families face, and the importance of supporting childcare providers provide for Louisiana’s working families.

“Louisiana loses over a billion dollars in productivity each year because children don’t have access to high-quality childcare. This event allows us to demonstrate the importance of investing in early education in our state,” said Dr. Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D., executive director of LPIC. “It’s important for Louisiana legislators and business leaders to connect with childcare providers in order to understand the crucial role they play in serving children, families, businesses, and educators in their communities through early care and education programs.”

“We partner with 250 families focusing on increasing intentionality, exceptional education and being developmentally driven. Although we enjoy every moment spent educating their children, the reality is, parents and caregivers are spending their time working and contributing to Louisiana’s economy,” said Mindy Layfield. “We are grateful for the awareness that Early Ed Month 2023 raises about the importance of serving children and their families with high quality care and support. We believe it is crucial that our students receive the best quality care, at our Christ-centered facility, to promote a safe environment where they can be stimulated for successful growth and learning. We believe this happens through having highly trained teachers, who partner with parents for each child's unique development.”

“At Louisiana Association of United Ways, we’ve seen firsthand the importance early care and education plays in the lives of our youngest learners and have advocated for this cause through the many challenges of these past few years,” said Sarah Berthelot, President and CEO of LAUW. “Today, 60% of Louisiana children begin kindergarten behind their peers and children who begin school behind generally remain behind. Investing in early care and education will help ensure that more young children in Louisiana are entering school prepared. We urge legislators to act now to prioritize funding and access to quality early care and education – for the benefit of Northeast Louisiana and our entire state.”

To learn more about early childcare and education in Louisiana, please visit Additionally, you can join in the conversation by using #LAEarlyEdMonth on social media.

Fredrick Louis is a native of Monroe, Louisiana and has worked in and around Northeast Louisiana for more than 40 years. He graduated from Wossman High School and then went on to the University of Louisiana at Monroe to graduate with a B.S. in Mathematics. Following that, he attended Grambling State University where he received his M.A.T. He loves the city of Monroe and is always looking for a way to serve in the community. That love for community has led him to a 10-year career in teaching. He has worked in both the Monroe City and Ouachita Parish school systems. He was also a candidate for mayor in 2020 and has used that experience to show his students that you can do anything you want and that the only failure is not trying.