The Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development is a research center comprised of a multidisciplinary group of evaluation and research professionals who focus on science-based innovation in practice and policy with the goal of producing substantially larger impacts on the learning capacity, health, and economic and social mobility of young children. Our research is focused on the following areas of early childhood study: education, development, health and mental health, assessment and evaluation, and early intervention and prevention programs. Our overall goal is to ensure a prosperous and healthy future for children and families in Louisiana.
The Picard Center promotes an underlying philosophy that each child is unique in their own life experiences, developmental readiness, and cultural heritage. Our research revolves around a constructivist paradigm in which learning is an active, constructive process and children construct new ideas or concepts from their prior knowledge and experiences, which is often determined by their social and cultural environment. This theoretical framework stresses the interaction of all aspects of growth—social, emotional, intellectual, and physical. We believe that best practices for adult-child interactions should foster creativity, the development of self-esteem, concern and acceptance for others, curiosity, autonomy, and self-motivation. Through quality adult-child interactions, children will learn to make responsible choices, share, problem-solve, and collaborate with each other in a nurturing environment. Through our research, the Picard Center seeks to establish a model for bridging the research-to-policy-to-practice gaps in all facets of early childhood life.
The mission of the Picard Center has four distinct components. First, it provides a model early childhood education program that serves children from birth to eight years old. Second, the center serves as a resource for quality enhancement in early childhood health, mental health, preventative care, and health literacy. Third, the Center functions as the go-to resource for professional development for early childcare and education programs for teachers and caregivers of young children in central Louisiana. And, finally, the Picard Center provides a collaborative environment in which to enhance the body of knowledge, through research, regarding teaching and child development, while offering an opportunity for professionals to practice developing skills.
Our work includes:
- Data collection from primary and secondary sources
- Cutting-edge applied research
- Professional development for education practitioners
- Community-based research, professional development and technical assistance
- Active collaboration with traditional and nontraditional educational partners
- Information dissemination
- Active mentoring of new scholars
The Picard Center is always working diligently to stay at the forefront of research in order to better the lives of children and adults across Acadiana and the U.S. Currently, $4.4 million has been generated in external grant funds for research at the Picard Center, and $2.35 million is currently outstanding as pending grant funds for external research support.
At the heart of our research are Louisiana's families, children, and communities. Our mission is reflected in the work we do here at the Picard Center, and our work has touched the lives of many youths and families, ranging from Nurse-Family partnerships, to todder and Pre-K children, to families affected by incarceration.