About Agenda for Children
Message from CEO Dr. Anthony Recasner
I am delighted to lead the team at Agenda for Children. I came to Agenda in January 2011, after working for twenty years to help improve K – 12 public education in New Orleans. Agenda is a twenty-eight year old nonprofit advocacy and service organization that focuses on the well-being of children, from birth through eighteen years of age. I was especially interested in Agenda's work in early care and education. Agenda has provided childcare resource & referral services since 1989 and currently serves sixteen parishes in Southeast Louisiana. In this role, our staff provides technical assistance and training for child care providers as a means of promoting and ensuring best practice in the field. We also serve as a resource for parents seeking quality childcare for their children.
My background as a native New Orleanian, a public school graduate, and as a school psychologist was good preparation for the education reform work that I engaged in for the first half of my career. With the dedication and support of many colleagues and friends, I became a leader in the charter school movement, starting and leading schools (including New Orleans Charter Middle School, the city's first charter school), and co-founding FirstLine Schools, Inc., a charter management organization that operates five charter schools in the city. It is personally and professionally rewarding that charter schools have become the primary alternative to the traditional public school model in New Orleans. This approach to school management and governance is making it possible for innovative educators to create schools that are effectively addressing children's social and emotional needs, as well as challenging and engaging them academically. The student achievement results are very promising and the potential for the schools to play a major role in the city's revitalization is a subject that stirs much excitement!
Agenda's work in early care and education aligns perfectly with my belief that you have to provide children with developmentally appropriate and high quality experiences early in their life in order to ensure their readiness for school and success later in life. I am excited to have the chance to partner with early childhood educators in Southeast Louisiana to enhance their knowledge and skills in working with young children. I am also inspired by the opportunity to help preschool and elementary school educators build a bridge between their programs and adopt best practices to ensure that young children experience success early in school.
Agenda's history of advocating for children, particularly vulnerable children, also drew me to the organization. Since its founding in 1984, Agenda has worked to increase and preserve government support for families, improve the quality of childcare and K – 12 public education, increase children's access to heath care, make the foster care system work better, and overhaul the juvenile justice system. The KIDS COUNT Databook on Louisiana's Children, which Agenda produces annually, provides valuable information to decision makers, the media, and general public on the well-being of Louisiana's children.
The diversity of programs that have been created and managed by Agenda's staff and the issues that Agenda championed has helped us to acquire a deep understanding of children and the individual and support systems that they need to become healthy, well educated, and productive citizens.
My plan is to build on Agenda's many accomplishments and to strengthen our capacity to help individuals and organizations better understand, care for, and educate children. In this role, we look forward to working with adults looking to enhance their parenting knowledge and skills, helping early education teachers make the adjustments necessary to ensure that children function well socially and emotionally and possess the early language and math skills needed for school, working with K – 12 administrators and staff to enhance their knowledge of child development and providing support to other types of organizations whose mission is to provide support and enrichment for children.
The work that Agenda does is needed now, more than ever. I hope that you will continue to support us or will join us in our efforts to ensure that every child in Louisiana has the opportunity to live a happy, productive, and successful life. By working together, we can accomplish much more than by working alone.
Dr. Anthony "Tony" Recasner
Chief Executive Officer