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Louisiana's Neighborhood Place welcomes the Mahalia Jackson Center in New Orleans

Neighborhood Place brings convenience to services and helps families overcome barriers

Shannel Watts from DHH, Co-Founder & Development Consultant of the Early Childhood & Family Learning Foundation Phyllis Landrieu, Early Childhood & Family Learning Foundation Chairperson Audrey Browder, Louisiana Workforce Commission Deputy Executive Director Jay Augustine, DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson, Orleans Parish School Board President Lourdes Moran and Orleans Parish School Superintendent Darryl Kilbert cut the ribbon at the Mahalia Jackson Neighborhood Place.
Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Secretary Ruth Johnson today joined other state and local officials in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the official grand opening of Mahalia Jackson Center in New Orleans, Louisiana's first urban Neighborhood Place.

Neighborhood Place provides critical services to community residents in a new way. Through Neighborhood Place, DCFS, the state departments of Health and Hospitals (DHH), Education (DoE), the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) and the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) work as a team with local providers to offer better, more accessible services to clients because they are located under one roof.

"As Louisiana's first urban Neighborhood Place, the Mahalia Jackson Center Neighborhood offers a unique array of services for the children and families of Central City and New Orleans, and was opened because of the outpouring of support from the local community, "said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson. "DCFS is pleased to be a part of this collaboration that serves the needs of children and families through integrated services provided in coordination with other state and local supports."

The Mahalia Jackson Center also houses 11 additional onsite partners to serve the children and families of Central City, including the Early Childhood & Family Learning Foundation, Central City Renaissance Alliance, Boys Town LA, Job1, New Orleans Public Library, Circle of Courage Mentoring Program, LEH Prime Time Family Reading Time and the St. Thomas Community Health Center.

Other features of the Mahalia Jackson Center are the early childhood programs that serve children from birth through 5 years of age, offering quality Early Head Start, Head Start, LA4, Pre-K and Kindergarten programs. The center also features a community garden and kitchen, fitness room and basketball courts.

Representatives from the collaborative agencies were present at the ribbon cutting. They include Dr. Pat Cooper, President and CEO of the Early Childhood & Family Learning Foundation; Phyllis Landrieu, Co-Founder & Development Consultant, Early Childhood & Family Learning Foundation; Audrey Browder, Early Childhood & Family Learning Foundation Chairperson; Darryl Kilbert, Orleans Parish School Superintendent; Lourdes Moran, Orleans Parish School Board President, Jay Augustine, Deputy Executive Director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission and Shannell Watts, a representative of the Department of Health and Hospitals.

In 2008, Governor Bobby Jindal signed Act 775 creating Neighborhood Place. Before this Act was signed, families had to travel to several locations just to apply for services they needed. State agencies were unable to coordinate and plan in order to meet their clients' needs, and this process was lengthy and inefficient.

Neighborhood Place was designed to be a community-led effort to bring a new kind of convenience to services by merging education, health, workforce development and other key social services. A main goal of Neighborhood Place is to provide customer-friendly services that focus on the critical areas of student achievement, health care, social services, workforce and juvenile justice services.

Neighborhood Place provides services as a team with staff from each agency located onsite during the week. This allows easier communication with one another to coordinate and adapt services to meet clients' needs. Another benefit of Neighborhood Place is the ability to better identify the services that families need. With the collaboration of services, staff can make immediate referrals to ensure that those seeking services are able to have their needs met in the most efficient manner.

For more information on services at the Mahalia Jackson Center, visit You can also learn more about Neighborhood Place at
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