LSU Early Childhood Education Institute to Serve as a Hub for Education, Research and Advocacy

Virtual Ribbon Cutting | March 25, 2021 |  10 a.m.


The College of Human Sciences & Education thanks our special guests for this announcement - Governor John Bel Edwards, LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Robert Dampf, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley, LSU President Tom Galligan, and LSU Vice President Provost Stacia Haynie.

BATON ROUGE, LA — The LSU Early Childhood Education Institute is hosting a virtual announcement and ribbon cutting and now serves as a vital hub for the state and the nation to connect early childhood (birth – 3 years) research, education, and advocacy of recommended practices. 

The LSU ECE Institute is an outreach arm of the university’s College of Human Sciences & Education consisting of research, ongoing workforce development, and the promotion of recommended practices, policy, and advocacy through collaborative partnerships.

“The timing of the launch of this institute could not be more appropriate as both state and national education leaders are turning their attention to the significant impact early childhood education programs have on the learning success of students following the pre-K experience,” said LSU CHSE Dean Roland Mitchell, PhD. 

Focused holistically on the early years, the ECE Institute fills a unique niche by targeting the care of children from birth through age three. Through a balanced emphasis on research and education programs, recommended practices in the education and care of young children will be created, applied, evaluated, and disseminated. Further, the ECE Institute’s focus will be on developing expert early care practitioners who deliver high-quality early childhood programming, engage in research practices, and advocate for the profession. 

"To me, the Early Childhood Education Institute means collaboration: collaboration among all child development and early childhood professionals in the state of Louisiana," said Brittany Wittenberg, PhD, CCLS, CFLE, Assistant Professor, Child Life Program Coordinator, LSU School of Social Work. "The institute is partnering together to serve and support young children in Louisiana in all contexts, including children’s hospitals, childcare centers, family child care homes, and much more!"

Our Work

To provide an evidence-based focus on developing recommended practices in early childhood care and education for Louisiana and the nation by promoting discovery, curricula, programs, and strategic partnerships, to including funding support.

To enable the early childhood workforce to implement recommended practices for caring and educating young children.

To speak up on behalf of young children, their families and those working in the field of early care and education, for effective social policies that support the early years.


Recent studies have shown up to a 13 percent return on investment in early childhood education, narrowing the achievement gap and increasing cognitive development” said LSU ECE Institute Director Cynthia DiCarlo who also serves as the executive director of the LSU Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool and the coordinator of the LSU Early Childhood Education Program. “This Institute will link LSU’s expertise in early childhood education with the critical need for a highly educated workforce as well as researchers and advocates to continuously advance the profession and drive outcomes for our youngest population.”

Joining Dean Mitchell and Dr. DiCarlo in the announcement of the opening of the LSU Early Childhood Institute are Governor John Bel Edwards, LSU Board of Supervisors Chair Robert Dampf, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley, LSU President Tom Galligan, and LSU Vice President and Provost Stacia Haynie.

Behind the Scenes of the Virtual Ribbon Cutting 

Cutting the Ribbon

purple and gold construction paper loop chain with a pair of children's safety scissors on top

Motor skills: Children's daily activities help them develop fine motor skills. Activities that that increase muscle strength and coordination, such as using scissors, setting the table, and getting dressed (button, zip, and snap), prepare children for more advanced skills later in life like holding a pencil or using a computer mouse.

The LSU Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool is NAEYC-accredited, one of only three in the Baton Rouge area and one of 24 in Louisiana. NAEYC, or the National Association for the Education of Young Children, has a vision where all young children thrive and learn in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential.

The preschool is a living, learning laboratory for research at LSU and will be a cornerstone for collaboration, research, and dissemination of recommended practices for the LSU Early Childhood Education Institute.

The laboratory preschool's vision is to foster a lifelong love for learning


Lights, Camera, Action!

white female child being filmed by video camera

Playing to learn. Play can and should impact our college and career choices. In the February 2020 issue of Best Practices, Jennifer Curry, PhD, explored this critical issue in education. 

For the ribbon cutting of the Early Childhood Education Institute, we asked our friends at the Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool to help us introduce our special guests for the day. When one child saw the video lights, he asked if this was a space rover...why yes, yes it is!

An excerpt about play: "For decades educators have recognized that play and learning go hand in hand for young children. Through play, children learn about the world around them and develop essential skills in the areas of math (e.g., early numeracy), language and communication, collaboration and negotiation with their peers, and science like testing a hypothesis. Play also allows children to experience the world of work. Using their imaginations, children visit the world of careers by playing what they see each day in their own communities. As they play, children transform into construction workers, doctors, teachers, veterinarians, and bakers; moreover, the import of play for understanding their future interests and options is critical." - Jennifer Curry, PhD


Emerging Writers

picture in child's writing that says Cynthia DiCarlo with doodlesOur students at the LSU Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool helped us with this announcement ceremony. They wrote and illustrated the introductions for our special guests and speakers. But, did you know that the colors, images, and marks on these pages are much more than doodles? 

Laura Piestrzynski, PhD and assistant professor in the LSU Early Childhood Education program, wrote about emergent writing. According to Piestrzynski, in preschool, children continue developing the fine motor skills that are necessary to form conventional letters. They also practice making connections between spoken sounds and alphabet letters. 

Here is a short excerpt from her article: "There is a pervasive myth that preschoolers are not capable of writing. This is not true!  Preschoolers are entirely capable of writing their own messages. In fact, they are capable of composing their own messages prior to formal reading instruction."


Our Research

young boy and girl wearing masks play with blocks and figure"No one can go to the donut store." This was one preschool student's answer to a recent research question: "What does COVID-19 mean?"   

Combining Care and Cutting-Edge Research:

The Executive Director of the laboratory preschool, Cynthia DiCarlo, is the W.H. Bill LeBlanc Endowed Alumni Professor in the LSU School of Education. When she comes to work these days, she continues to be amazed at the resiliency of young children who are wearing masks all day and not complaining. Masks are now required of all children over the age of two. She is keenly interested in their point of view. During the school closure, DiCarlo began a new research project with professors Katie Cherry and Matt Calamia in the LSU Department of Psychology on young children’s perception of the mandated home stay, in which they’ve also involved graduate students.

Early Childhood Education Institute Executive Committee Member Jennifer Baumgartner, PhD authored an issue of Best Practices titled How can parents and teachers help young children cope with school reentry and COVID-19. This blog-style newsletter is emailed monthly to alumni, teachers, principals, superintendents, legislators, and partners in education across the state.


For more information on the LSU Early Childhood Education Institute visit


Mary P. Woods
Communications Director 

Adrienne Gale
Assistant Director of Communications 


Alison Satake
LSU Media Relations