Advocates Join Forces for Early ED Day in Jefferson Parish – Biz New Orleans

February 5, 2024 | by

Eed 2024 Tour Photo

METAIRIE, La. (press release) – This month, Louisiana is celebrating its third Early Ed Month with a series of events across the state focusing on the importance of early childhood education. On Feb. 5, Beary Cherry Tree hosted Early ED Day in Metairie to highlight the crucial role of high-quality early care and education for a strong workforce and thriving economy in Jefferson Parish.

The day was a tableau of community engagement with key notes from advocates including Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D., of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children; executives from United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Entergy Louisiana and Jefferson Ready Start Network; and Jefferson Parish Councilmember-at-Large Scott Walker. Speakers addressed the need for increased investment and accessibility in early education. These discussions were supported by the insights of business leaders and educators who illustrated the positive impacts of such investments on community prosperity.

“Too many working parents are forced to decide between paying for quality early care and education and other household essentials like housing and health care – decisions families should never have to make,” said Charmaine Caccioppi, chief operating officer/executive vice president United Way of Southeast Louisiana and advisory board chair Jefferson Ready Start Network. “We need all Southeast Louisiana residents to call on our elected officials, especially at the federal level, to support our vision of making sure all children have access to affordable, high-quality care.”

The event further reinforced the message through a tour of the Beary Cherry Tree center, where attendees saw firsthand the benefits of high-quality early care in action. Parents and providers shared compelling testimonials about the center’s invaluable role in supporting both children’s development and family livelihoods.

“Our message is one of hope and action,” said Paula Polito, Ph.D., owner of Beary Cherry Tree. “By uniting around the need for awareness of the importance of early care and education, we are paving the way for a brighter, more prosperous future for Jefferson Parish. Beary Cherry Tree was honored to serve as host for today’s event.”

The collective call to action from this event was clear: we must ensure that Louisiana’s youngest citizens receive the care and education they need to succeed and in turn, contribute to a robust future for the state. For more information on the ongoing initiatives and to get involved in state actions, visit


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