(Shreveport, LA) – United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) adopted one local head start program and child-care center in each of the 10 parishes they serve. Throughout the year, UWNWLA will assist the centers with obtaining the tools necessary for the community’s youngest children to receive quality early childhood education. The centers include Benton Head Start Center, Brown E. Moore Head Start, Breda Town Head Start Center, Red River Head Start, Universal Pre-Kindergarten, Humpty Dumpty Head Start, Bienville Head Start Center, STC Mansfield Head Start, Life’s Little Blessings, and Webster Parish ABC Head Start Center.

Partnering with local head start centers designed to provide education to preschool children from low-income families is key to UWNWLA’s commitment to early childhood literacy. As part of the organization’s kick-off, UWNWLA donated one set of 10 books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to each center. UWNWLA hand-delivered the books to Benton Head Start Center and Brown E. Moore Head Start.

“We are so excited to have someone adopt us and to be thinking of us,” said Brown E. Moore Head Start teacher, Tammie Stewart. “It really means a lot to the children to receive the books because it makes them feel special. The teachers read each book to the children before we send them home.”

In Northwest Louisiana, fifty-two percent of children enter kindergarten unprepared. Due to the effects of COVID-19 on our educational systems, including school closures and distant learning models, our community is bracing for this number to increase. By adopting 10 head start centers, UWNWLA hopes to provide additional resources to each center to enhance fundamental building blocks and keep children on track for kindergarten.

“United Way is excited to donate these books and put them in the hands of children,” said LaToria Thomas, Vice President of Community Investments. “There is a Chinese proverb that says, ‘the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.’ We need to invest in these children today so that 20 years from now they will find joy in reading and have the skills they need for success.”

Throughout the year, UWNWLA will also offer the community opportunities to support these center’s additional needs. UWNWLA serves Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, Claiborne, Desoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, Webster, and Winn parishes. For more information about United Way of Northwest Louisiana, please visit unitedwaynwla.org.