LAFAYETTE, La. – The Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning at the University of Louisiana is pleased to be named the recipient of the 2010 Friend of Children Award by the State Board of the Louisiana Early Childhood Association.

Read the interview with Dr. Stokes here.

Every year, the Louisiana Early Childhood Association (LAECA) recognizes an organization or individual who works diligently to improve the lives of young children and their families in Louisiana. The association is a nonprofit early childhood organization for teachers, parents, caregivers and early care professionals dedicated to improving the lives of Louisiana's children birth to eight years of age.

LAECA President Cindy Rushing noted, "Because of the center’s involvement with the Cecil J. Picard LA 4 Early Childhood Program and numerous other early childhood initiatives, the center is the unanimous choice of our LAECA Board to receive this award."

Continuing, she stated, "Former Superintendent Picard’s vision for all 4-year-olds to receive a high-quality education lives on through the efforts of the Picard Center. Our board applauds the center’s tenacity in continuing the quest to improve early childhood public education for all children and their families in the state of Louisiana."

In addition to evaluating the state’s high-quality early childhood program for eight years, the Picard Center also evaluates the state’s Nonpublic Schools Early Childhood Development (NSECD) program and United Way of Acadiana’s Early Head Start programs in Lafayette and Vermilion parishes. These evaluations reveal the progress, successes and opportunities of these programs and offer recommendations for continual improvement. The Center also helps school districts gauge the effectiveness of their PreK programs by compiling data reports on each program’s outcomes, and the Center offers technical assistance, support and professional development to more than 350 infant/toddler educators in Louisiana through a pilot program with the La. Department of Children and Family Services.

Of the recognition, Dr. Billy R. Stokes, Executive Director of the Picard Center, said, "Our Center operates by Cecil’s philosophy that in the game of life, you are either a shooter or a dribbler. Through our strategic research and evaluations, as well as the dedication of our staff, it is evident we are shooters. We look forward to continuing Cecil’s core mission of reaching the goal of a better Louisiana by focusing on our children."

Stokes and several staff members accepted the award on behalf of the research center and its 40+ employees at the 44th Annual Louisiana Early Childhood Association Conference in Alexandria on October 22.

About the Picard Center

The Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning is a research center comprising a multidisciplinary group of evaluation and research professionals who focus on early childhood, K-12 education, school-based health, poverty’s effects on families, and lifelong learning. As an integral part of the University of Louisiana’s research mission, the Center provides high-quality, rigorous evaluations of programs that are implemented to address learning from birth through adulthood. Applied research is continually conducted in all areas of education, health, and well-being to ensure a prosperous and healthy future for all of Louisiana's children.

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