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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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ND makes the grade in a national report evaluating public school support; SCOTUS justices express free speech concerns about GOP-backed social media laws; NH "kids on campus" program boosts retention; proposed law bans hemp sales to Hoosiers younger than 21.

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The Supreme Court hears arguments on whether social media can restrict content. Biden advisors point to anti-democracy speeches at CPAC, and the President heads to the US-Mexico border appealing to voters on immigration and border issues.

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David meets Goliath in Idaho pesticide conflict, to win over Gen Z voters, candidates are encouraged to support renewable energy and rural America needs help from Congress to continue affordable internet programs.

More Illinois Toddlers Head for 'Smart Start' in Early Education

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Friday, May 19, 2023   

Researchers say a lot of learning begins even before birth - and especially between birth and age five.

Gov. JB Pritzker's "Smart Start Illinois" is a plan to increase access to early learning services for young families across the state.

Supporters of the plan say it not only benefits children through high-quality learning, but would function as stable, reliable childcare so their parents can work or go to school.

Julissa Cruz, senior director of community-based advocacy at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, said she's optimistic about the transformative impact she believes the plan will eventually have on the workforce.

"You have a workforce that's comprised of mostly Black and Brown women, who are making wages that they themselves qualify for public assistance," said Cruz. "Smart Start would really start to rectify that pay scale, and really work closer to pay equity."

The governor's plan aims to supply as many as 500 three and four-year-olds with early-learning access as soon as fiscal year 2024.

Cost is expected to be the biggest barrier in implementing the plan and making sure it continues beyond Pritzker's tenure.

Smart Start plans to serve other areas, too, including home visits and early intervention for children who may need more robust support.

Cruz said each of those items will need support in order for families to access all aspects of early learning.

"When you have a child who's been identified early on as having either a cognitive or physical impairment, they go through what's called early intervention," said Cruz. "And then, you are connected to service providers who can provide that service - so, that may be occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy. That system is individual contractors."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children under age five receive a developmental screening every six months.





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