Jefferson Ready Start Network Awarded $525K from Baptist Community Ministries

NEW ORLEANS – Jefferson Parish Schools has been awarded a $525K grant by the Baptist Community Ministries to allow the Jefferson Ready Start Network to implement a comprehensive and dynamic system of professional development for over 600 early learning professionals who work across 125 early learning sites. The program will benefit child care, Head Start, Early Head Start, Jefferson Parish school system and other early learning programs with publicly funded seats.

“This generous contribution from Baptist Community Ministries will allow our organization to continue to increase access to high quality early childhood experiences for Jefferson Parish children,” said Jefferson Ready Start Network Director Sarintha Stricklin. “Through these funds, we’ll be able to further our mission to ready the 28,000 children under the age of five years old residing in Jefferson Parish for school and prepare them to be successful in life. In the wake of a global pandemic, the need for the work we do is more critical than ever.”

With nearly 25,000 children in Jefferson Parish qualifying as economically disadvantaged, only 4,500 are currently served in publicly funded seats. These seats are monitored for quality and subsidized with public dollars. Currently, according to data from the Louisiana Department of Education, only four early childhood sites in Jefferson Parish have earned the highest quality rating of Excellent. 

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“Jefferson Ready Start Network’s efforts to improve the quality of and access to early childhood opportunities across communities in Jefferson is crucial to the success and future of our parish. We’re proud to be able to contribute to this organization’s continued efforts,” said Baptist Community Ministries Program Director for Education Grants Todd Battiste.

One strategy that the Jefferson Ready Start Network is deploying to increase the quality of early education is to implement a system of professional development for the over 600 early learning professionals working to support young learners. The three-tiered approach to support teachers and leaders includes web-based and face-to-face training sessions and job-embedded coaching.

Jefferson Ready Start Network is a partnership of community leaders and thought partners from multiple sectors, including the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Jefferson Business Council, Jefferson Parish Government, Jefferson Parish Schools, Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, Tulane University, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children and many others.

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