Focus on the Future: Success at the Early Care and Education Forum Wednesday - Jefferson Ready Start Network

Focus on the Future: Success at the Early Care and Education Forum Wednesday

Jefferson Ready Start Network and Councilmember At-Large Scott Walker co-hosted informative forum

METAIRIE, LA (April 11, 2024) – The Focus on the Future Forum, held on Wednesday, April 10, marked a pivotal moment for early care and education (ECE) in Jefferson Parish. Hosted by Jefferson Ready Start Network and Jefferson Parish Councilmember At-Large Scott Walker, the event gathered business leaders, community members, educators and advocates to discuss the transformative impact of ECE on children, working families, the economy and the broader community. 

“The future of Jefferson Parish lies in the hands of our youngest learners,” Walker said. “We must advocate for a sustainable funding source now, as early care and education touches every part of our lives from the workforce to the economy.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Alí Bustamante, an economist and professor at University of New Orleans presented compelling data on the economic benefits of ECE, underscoring its critical role in workforce development and economic growth in the parish. 

The panel discussion, featuring Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng, JP Schools Superintendent Dr. James Gray, Sheriff Joseph P. Lopinto III and Dr. Bustamante, delved deeper into the multifaceted impact of ECE. 

“Access to quality early care and education is not only crucial for developing the minds of our youngest but also for the well-being of our working families,” said President Sheng.

The forum concluded with a call to action, urging businesses and individuals to become champions for early care and education. Councilman Walker’s closing remarks resonated with attendees, “Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of children in our parish, fostering a brighter future for us all.”

The forum was sponsored by Ochsner Health, Entergy, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Baptist Community Ministries and Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. 

For more information on how to support ECE through Jefferson Ready Start Network visit here.