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Flamingo Early Learning is a professional development system that improves early educator teaching practices and child outcomes. Over the last several years, the program has transcended Florida’s borders, offering customized resources and professional guidance to early childhood educators in Georgia, Louisiana, and Massachusetts.

Starting in 2018, the Lastinger Center partnered with Louisiana’s Department of Education to implement Flamingo Early Learning Louisiana (FELLA). As a state-approved Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate Program Provider, FELLA prepares early learning teachers to support kindergarten readiness through high-quality adult-child interactions and rich learning experiences in infant-toddler and preschool settings.

At the end of the 10-month program, participants will have earned their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential to be ready to apply for the Ancillary Certificate as required by the state of Louisiana. FELLA’s extensive resources streamline this process to create a guided program led by experienced coaches and instructors. 

“The thing that sets us apart is high-quality, job-embedded coursework that enhances teacher practice,” said Karen Molinario, Lastinger Center implementation support coordinator. “During the year-long process, teachers build their portfolio as they complete assignments in their courses, so they are ready to earn their CDA and apply for their Early Childhood Ancillary Certificate.”

Along with high-quality coursework, early learning educators, at no cost to them, have access to the program’s step-by-step process that includes the following components: virtual coaching sessions, CLASS® observation data review, portfolio assistance, and virtual community of practice sessions.

Program leaders/directors of the participating early learning programs also form a community of practice to share ideas and strategies to support teachers in completing the program. The directors, instructors and coaches that lead FELLA do more than focus on CDA requirements; they supplement the job-embedded coursework with professional expertise to build participants’ skills beyond the expectations of the CDA Council. 

FELLA graduate Briyana Headley said her favorite aspect of the program was its “virtual meetings” that offered both professional and emotional support to participants.

“The Flamingo Early Learning CDA program has helped me better my knowledge in childcare and made me feel more at ease about being a new teacher, which is so important to me just because I love working with children,” Headley said.

Headley is one of nearly 100 teachers who have participated in FELLA since its inception. 

To learn more about the program, please contact Karen Molinario at