LSU officials on Thursday held a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony for the school's new Early Childhood Education Institute.

Cynthia DiCarlo, director, said the institute will serve as a clearinghouse to bring together early childhood research, get information into the hands of those working with young children and serve as an advocate to policymakers on what practices work.

The focus will be on birth to age 3, crucial ages that DiCarlo said are under appreciated and under researched.

"The ECE Institute is really a call to action," she said.

Early childhood education is gaining increasing attention in the Legislature.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose proposed $36 billion operating budget does not include an increase for early learners, said he plans to include one if state officials recognize more revenue in May.

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Edwards said 80% of a child's brain development is done by age 3 and that children who get quality care at an early age are less likely to repeat a grade or drop out school.

State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said less than half of children who enter kindergarten in Louisiana are ready to learn.

"This is an important piece in the puzzle to improve our state," Brumley said of the institute.

The institute is part of the LSU College of Human Sciences & Education.

"We are change makers," said Roland Mitchell, dean of the college.

DiCarlo is also executive director of the LSU Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool.

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