New Orleans Collaborative for Early Childhood Research | Agenda for Children

New Orleans Collaborative for Early Childhood Research

What is the New Orleans Collaborative for Early Childhood Research?

The New Orleans Collaborative for Early Childhood Research (CECR) is a partnership between Tulane University’s Early Childhood Policy Research Lab, Agenda for Children, and New Orleans Public Schools to conduct research on early childhood programs and policies in New Orleans. CECR’s work examines access to critical early programs and supports, and the effects that these programs and policies have on children and families.

Current Projects

1. Parent Experiences in the NOLA-PS Common Application Process (formerly OneApp) Policy brief series coming soon!

From interviews with 100 parents who applied for early childhood or kindergarten seats in 2020, we summarize parents’ program preferences, application challenges, and information sources, and how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their choices. (Funded by the Institute for Education Sciences)

2. Increasing Early Education Access through Parent Application Support

Through a social media campaign and text-message support, we worked to increase the rate of new families applying for early childhood seats in the New Orleans Common Application Process (NCAP) in 2021-22. Results will be released in fall 2022. (Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

3. Promoting Equitable Access to Family-Supporting Programs in Louisiana

Through a scan of policy documents and interviews with 40 New Orleans parents, we are working to understand all of the steps that low-income parents in Louisiana must complete in order to gain access to family-supporting programs like SNAP, Medicaid, and Head Start. A report of our findings will be released in 2023. (Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)

CECR’s Directors

Dr. Lindsay Weixler, Tulane University

Lindsay Bell Weixler is a Non-Resident Research Fellow, and her research interests include early childhood education and child and adolescent development in educational settings.

After teaching in New Orleans from 2005 to 2007, Lindsay completed a Ph.D. in developmental psychology and master’s degree in statistics at the University of Michigan in 2012. Lindsay previously worked at the U.S. Department of Education, where she was a Presidential Management Fellow in the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development.

Jen Roberts, CEO, Agenda for Children

Prior to her role as CEO, Jen Roberts served as the organization’s Founding Executive Director of NOEEN, a public/private partnership created by local early childhood practitioners, New Orleans Public Schools, and the LA Department of Education to increase access to quality early childhood education in Orleans Parish. In 2019, she created the Early Childhood Opportunity (ECHO) Fund, a multi-million dollar grantmaking program for childcare centers across Southeast Louisiana, and co-founded the New Orleans Early Education Research Alliance with Tulane University faculty.

She currently serves as a member of statewide advisory boards for the Louisiana Department of Education and the Louisiana Workforce Commission, several non-profit boards in the Greater New Orleans region, and was named a 2019 Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Fellow. A native of the Gulf Coast, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Bryn Mawr College and a Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University. She has called New Orleans home since 2002.

Rebecca Latham, Executive Director of Portfolio, New Orleans Public Schools

Rebecca Latham, M.Ed., is Director of School Support and Improvement at NOLA-PS. Prior to joining NOLA-PS she served as the Louisiana State Director of Special Education Policy. Rebecca is an educational diagnostician and co-founder of Speducation Evaluation Services. She was born in Wisconsin, and came to Louisiana to study at Louisiana State University. Ms. Latham attended graduate school at Southeastern Louisiana University, and worked as both a regular and special education teacher for 5 years in New Orleans before moving to Raleigh, North Carolina. While in North Carolina she worked on the Wake County Public School System’s Special Education Legal and Policy team. She returned to New Orleans in 2012 to work as the Director of Student Support Services for a New Orleans Charter School. Ms. Latham has experience working with students ages four to twenty-two in both charter schools and traditional school districts. She has also served as evaluator, teacher and parent in these educational settings.


CECR’s origins began in 2017 with a collaborative project between Dr. Weixler, the New Orleans Early Education Network, the Recovery School District, and New Orleans Public Schools, in which the partners worked to help families complete the application process for the district’s newly implemented Early Childhood OneApp (now called the New Orleans Common Application Process). Using text messages, we increased families’ success in completing their OneApp by more than 10% (see reports Increasing Access to Head Start Through Text Messages and Can Text Messages Help Families Applying for Early Childhood Education Programs?). With funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, we formed our initial formal partnership, the New Orleans Early Education Research Alliance, in 2019, focusing on how families navigate the OneApp for early childhood and kindergarten seats. With recent funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study families’ access to a broader set of programs, and future plans to examine child and maternal health outcomes, we have adopted the new name “New Orleans Collaborative for Early Childhood Research” to reflect the broadening of our work to multiple domains of early childhood experiences.

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