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St. Mary Community Action Agency/Head Start Program (St. Mary CAA) CEO and Head Start Administrator, Almetra J. Franklin is excited about the newly created Ready Start Community Networks program, which she says will greatly enhance early childhood education in St. Mary Parish through the utilization of various strategies. “Our top priority is to provide the very best quality childcare and education services for all of our children and families.
St. Mary Community Action Agency is one of seven Louisiana organizations that received a total of $700,000 from the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). These organizations will pilot new strategies to increase access to and improve the quality of publicly funded early childhood care and education. The action follows legislation passed in 2018 that allowed BESE to create and fund the pilot programs.
Similar to the other Ready Start pilot programs, St. Mary CAA’s pilot program will focus on developing governance structures and assessing local demand for early care and education. Also, teachers will receive ample resources and training aimed at improving classroom quality.
The Louisiana Legislature, in 2012, passed Act 3, which created early childhood community networks that encompassed Head Starts, local school systems, and early childcare centers, in an effort to unify a system of early childhood care and education. The networks grew from 13 in 2013 to 65 currently. St. Mary CAA has been the lead agency for the St. Mary Parish Network since 2015.
The cornerstone of this new program is to allow local communities to enhance families and children’s early childhood care and education needs, because they understand those needs better.
Franklin agrees. “Our teachers are in the trenches,” She said. They understand how to best prepare children for Kindergarten and beyond.”