Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Ready Start Network?
Ready Start Networks are coalitions of individuals committed to creating and implementing a bold local vision for early childhood. Ready Start Networks are driven by a community’s need to improve opportunities and inspire change for children birth to age five.
What do Ready Start Networks do?
Each Ready Start brings together partners to continuously improve the quality of and access to early childhood opportunities in their community. Driven by local data and context, they do this in three key ways: develop intentional plans, secure and weave together resources, and implement creative solutions.
Within a community, who is involved in a Ready Start Network?
The makeup of each network of community members is as unique as the local community itself and will look slightly different. An RSN involves both the likely early childhood partners (such as early childhood service providers from Head Start, school districts, home visiting, child care resource and referral and others), as well as those that – while not directly involved with early childhood – understand its importance and impact on the community (e.g. parish leaders, faith leaders, business leaders).
Why is a Ready Start Network important?
The research is clear - ninety percent of brain development happens before the age of five. In addition, two out of three Louisiana families have both parents working. Louisiana must provide quality early childhood experiences to build on that potential and ensure families have the supports they need. The fastest way to do this is for local communities to develop local solutions that reflect their unique needs.
Louisiana's future is tied to the success of its children, and today, we have the opportunity to transform our future in one generation. Everyone has a shared responsibility to support the economy of today and shape the workforce of tomorrow. Working together we can ensure our communities thrive.
How will Ready Start Networks affect early childhood education in Louisiana and in my community?
Louisiana is ranked 8th in the country for its early childhood education policies; a fact about which we should be proud. Even with this achievement, there continues to be significant access and quality challenges. Ready Start Networks build on our success by bringing local community members together to create, implement, and support early childhood to address these challenges.
What is quality early childhood and why is it important?
Quality early childhood doesn’t just happen. Having an intentional focus on establishing the conditions for quality is critical to Louisiana’s future success.
Quality early childhood means children are in a safe, caring, nurturing environment with qualified professionals that help children develop verbal, social, and emotional skills to learn and grow, not only for today but also for their future. Quality early childhood emphasizes adult-child interactions and active learning through reading, talking, and playing. As a result, children learn critical skills such as sharing and taking turns, and learning or physical delays are identified and addressed early so children can keep up with their peers.
What will look differently if Ready Start Networks are implemented effectively?
More children will have access to quality early learning opportunities, and families will have the information they need to make the best decision for their children. Local areas will be able to leverage new dollars from foundations, corporations, and local, state, federal government to support early childhood education in their local community.
Which communities have Ready Start Networks?
There are currently seven Louisiana Parishes who have RSNs: Iberville, Jefferson, Lafayette, Orleans, Rapides, Saint Mary, and Washington.
I don't work directly on early childhood issues; why should I be involved?
As residents of Louisiana, we all have a shared responsibility in ensuring our state thrives, and quality early childhood is a key element in creating a thriving community. Early childhood education is short- and long-term economic development for the state because it supports the workforce of today and the workforce of tomorrow. Reliable, quality early childhood supports families so they can work or complete a college degree, which has a significant effect on the state’s economy. Recent research shows:
Employers incur a direct loss of $816 million a year due to lost workforce productivity (absenteeism and turnover).
Local businesses in the state’s economy experience ripple effects due to lower worker spending at approximately $1.1 billion loss.
The state loses $84 million in lost tax revenue a year due to a decline in worker earnings.
In the long-term, early childhood helps prepare children for school and lifelong success. Research shows that for every $1 invested in quality early childhood, the state yields a $7.30 return on investment, which makes it an effective use of state dollars.
What have Ready Start Networks achieved to date?
RSNs have a new perspective on who is involved in early childhood decision making. Each RSN is part of a statewide community of practice, and is identifying plans to focus their work that are unique to their community. RSNs are all completing needs assessments so they can be strategic and targeted in their efforts. Some have already brought in new funders to address capacity or infrastructure challenges.