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Children’s Groups Rally around Illinois Pre-K Efforts

December 16, 2008

Chicago, IL – Illinois has placed fourth in a national ranking of "best chance" states for parents seeking a high-quality, state-funded preschool program for their children, and education leaders are applauding the news.

Voices for Illinois Children President Jerry Stermer says, while this study recognizes the success of the state's "Preschool for All" program, work must be done to expand early childhood programs statewide.

"We need to make up for some lost ground, and continue to build. We are looking for policymakers to make an additional investment in high-quality preschool in the coming years."

In this dismal economic climate, that won't be easy. However, during a Pre[K]Now
According to Ireta Gasner, senior policy associate for the Ounce of Prevention Fund, attendees shared a renewed sense of commitment to pre-K education, as a way to produce the greatest returns, both to families and society.

"People talked about wanting to reach out to their legislators, sharing that local angle and letting them know what difference early childhood makes at home. Especially in tough budget times, you have to put public dollars where the payoff is. We agree that it's actually in very young children."

The national advocacy group Pre[K]Now says Illinois is one of only seven states either providing or phasing in pre-K programs for all children.

Mary Kuhlman/Steve Powers, Public News Service - IL