Gov. Edwards, local legislators, business leaders join United Way to recognize Louisiana Early Education Week

Thursday, February 13, 2020

NEW ORLEANS —Gov. John Bel Edwards, legislators and business leaders from across the region on Thursday morning joined United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) and the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce at an event at Clara’s Little Lambs Preschool Academy (Federal City) in recognition of the third annual “Louisiana Early Ed Week” sponsored by Entergy Corporation.

“I believe that early child care and education (ECE) should be seen as a start of a pipeline for prosperity for children across Louisiana,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “My commitment [to ECE] goes past this week. It is my top priority for my second term.”

Held in partnership between the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC), UWSELA and the Louisiana Association of United Ways (LAUW), along with generous support from Entergy Corporation and Jones Walker LLP, Louisiana Early Ed Week is an opportunity to further educate policymakers and business leaders on the critical and ongoing need to increase and improve access to quality ECE for children, birth through age four, throughout the state. 

Today’s event was one of seven held across Louisiana between February 7-14, during which local leaders gather at Type III Child Care Centers to see what quality ECE looks like and to gain a greater understanding of the importance of providing access to these centers for the state’s youngest children. 

“It is easy to recognize the benefits of investing in quality early learning opportunities for children, but the gains don’t end with the child,” said Michael Williamson, UWSLEA president and CEO. “A significant investment in ECE has the potential to increase the earning potential for working parents, improve profitability for business and industry, and strengthen the well-being of our state’s economy – a true win-win.”

Quality ECE for children birth through age four prepares children to learn, grow and succeed, as 90% of brain development happens during that time. Louisiana lacks affordable, quality ECE programs, inflicting hardships on families, as two-thirds of children in this age group have parents in the workforce. 

Significant research shows that for every $1 invested in high-quality early care, the state yields a $7.30 return on investment, as children who participate in these programs are less likely to require specialized education when they enter elementary school, less likely to drop out of school prior to graduation and less likely to enter the criminal justice system later in life.

Following brief introductory remarks, today’s attendees were given a tour of Clara’s Little Lambs Preschool Academy (Federal City) from Executive Director Sonjia Brown-Joseph and her expert staff. Elected officials and business leaders in attendance had the opportunity to interact with children and their instructors while visiting with ECE advocates and providers.

Clara's Little Lambs Preschool Academy is family-owned and -operated and a participant in the Louisiana Quality Start Program. Its entire staff possesses a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification or post-secondary degree in ECE. The school has served the Algiers/New Orleans community since 1986.

“New Orleans is truly leading by example, prioritizing and investing in early child care and education,” said Libbie Sonnier-Netto, Ph.D., executive director of LPIC. “We must capitalize on this positive momentum and continue these efforts, continuously and determinedly advocating for our youngest children’s educational foundation and success.”

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


About United Way of Southeast Louisiana

For more than 90 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable – and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA. 


About Louisiana Policy Institute for Children

Louisiana Policy Institute for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring that Louisiana's young children, from birth to age four, are best prepared for success in school and in life. The Policy Institute develops policy proposals informed by data, research, best practices and the experiences of other states to improve the outcomes of Louisiana’s youngest citizens, and further provides educational and outreach activities based on recommended policy solutions. The organization works to ensure children are safe, healthy and have opportunity to reach their full potential. For more information, visit and follow the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children on Facebook and Twitter.