Illinois early childhood education
program ranks high in national study
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[NOV. 30, 2004]
SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Nov. 22
that a new national survey gives Illinois' early childhood education
program high marks. The state's Early Childhood Education Block
Grant program ranks among the top three in the nation in the
National Institute for Early Education Research 2004 State Preschool
Yearbook. The yearbook grades state programs on quality criteria,
including curriculum standards, teacher training, class size and
Despite unprecedented budget deficits, Gov. Blagojevich made
a strong commitment to early childhood education. During the first
two years of his administration, the governor increased funding by
$60 million for the Early Childhood Education Block Grant, enough
for 16,000 more at-risk children to have access to the state's
quality early childhood program.
"I'm proud of what we've been
able to do for our state's young children," Gov. Blagojevich said.
"We know that children who have opportunities to start their
education early in life have much better chances of succeeding later
in life. That's why, in the past two years, we made important budget
decisions to give even more children the chance to go to preschool."
The study by the National Institute for Early Education Research
gave Illinois a score of nine out of a possible 10 for quality --
making it one of only three states to
receive a nine or higher. Illinois also stands out in the survey in
the area of teacher training, as one of only 13 states to require
certification for its early childhood teachers.
Illinois' Early Childhood Program is targeted to reach at-risk
children from birth to age 5. Targeted populations may include
children from households with low parental education or children in
poverty. Children are identified for enrollment in programs based on
individual screening and assessment. The budget for this year's
program is $243 million, up $60 million from fiscal 2002.
Studies continue to demonstrate that preschool programs
positively affect children's success in school and later in life. A
study conducted in Chicago Child-Parent Centers found that at-risk
children participating in high-quality early childhood programs are
20 percent more likely to complete high school, 42 percent less
likely to be arrested as a juvenile for a violent offense and 41
percent less likely to need special education services.
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Research also shows that preschool pays significant dividends to
society. A study conducted by the High/Scope Educational Research
Foundation estimated the economic return of high-quality preschool
programs to be over $7 for every $1 spent on these programs.
In an effort to improve and expand early childhood education,
Gov. Blagojevich signed
Senate Bill 565 in July of 2003. The bill, sponsored by Rep.
Deborah Graham, D-Oak Park, and Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, created
the Illinois Early Learning Council, with the goal of developing a
high-quality early learning system that will be available to
children age 5 and younger throughout the state. The council
examines ways to expand and improve existing, successful early
childhood development programs -- including Head Start,
pre-kindergarten, health care and parental support programs -- and
will report its recommendations to the governor and General
The National Institute for Early Education Research, affiliated
with Rutgers University, supports early childhood education
initiatives by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on
research. The institute's entire preschool yearbook report is
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