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Sarintha Stricklin

Executive Director | Jefferson Ready Start Network

Sarintha Stricklin

Executive Director | Jefferson Ready Start Network
Fun Fact
I am passionate about our New Orleans Saints! My father was an original season ticket holder and brought me to games in Tulane Stadium. He passed the tickets on to me, and I never miss a game.

 

What have been some of your biggest challenges? Biggest successes?

As Executive Director of Jefferson Ready Start Network (JRSN), I’ve found one of the most significant obstacles to be the prevalence of budget cuts and strains on providers, which make it difficult for child care centers to provide adequate services to families and their children. In particular, the shortage of employees and limited availability of seats in care centers are among the biggest challenges we face.

One of my primary goals is to diversify funding sources to balance the ever-changing public funding landscape and ensure that child care providers have the resources they need to provide high-quality care. In 2021, JRSN partnered with the Jefferson Community Foundation to create the Future Fund to continue our efforts to diversify funding. We have seen some exciting progress with local interest and investment in early care and education, but it is not enough and we need to continue our work.

How do you think your personal beliefs and goals align with your company’s mission?

With decades of experience in early childhood development, I share Jefferson Ready Start Network’s commitment to addressing challenges in the early care and education sector through strategic approaches and stakeholder relationships. It is my goal to increase funding for early childhood programs because it is critical for all children to have access to high-quality early childhood experiences. I inform leaders of the economic impact and long-term developmental benefits of early care and education. Educating parents and caregivers is also essential to encourage enrollment. Collaborating with diverse stakeholders ensures communities are aware of available programs and economically disadvantaged families have access to publicly funded seats. This approach supports children and families today while setting them up for long-term success.

What challenges are currently affecting your industry? Do you foresee any potential solutions?

During the early days of the pandemic, advocates recognized the critical role that early care providers play in supporting families and ensuring children’s well-being. To support these providers, the government implemented emergency funding programs, such as the CARES Act, to help cover operational costs and provide financial relief.

These funds allowed early care providers to stay open, pay staff, purchase necessary supplies and implement safety protocols to protect both children and staff. However, as the pandemic continues to wane, many of these emergency funding programs are winding down, leaving providers facing financial uncertainty once again.

As a result, businesses that employ parents of young children need to be aware of the potential impact of the funding cuts on their employees. Without financial support, early care centers may be forced to close, reducing the availability of child care options for working parents. This, in turn, could lead to disruptions in the workforce as parents struggle to find alternative care arrangements or are forced to leave their jobs to care for their children.

To mitigate these risks, we urge businesses to partner with organizations like JRSN to advocate for early care and education funding and to invest in our efforts. By mitigating the risks associated with the winding down of emergency funding programs, businesses can benefit from improved employee retention, productivity and engagement, while also contributing to the local economy and demonstrating their commitment to social responsibility.

Who have been some of the greatest influences on your career or leadership style?

Through trainings, focus groups and visits to learning centers, I’ve received incredible feedback from teachers and providers. These connections continue to shape my approach to leadership and remind me daily why I chose a career in this field. In early education, it’s all about relationships, organizational climate, and support for growth and development. These strategies are foundational in leadership and within classrooms. Building a strong culture of support and collaboration among the early education community is at the heart of JRSN’s work.

 

 

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Jefferson Ready Start Network
4600 River Road, Marrero, LA 70072
sarintha.stricklin@jpschools.org
@jefferson-ready-start-network

 

 

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