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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 26, 2001

First Lady Meets with Business Leaders to Discuss Universal Access to Preschool

ABBOTT PARK, IL -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan, members of the Governor’s Task Force on Universal Access to Preschool, Miles White, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Abbott Laboratories, other representatives of Abbott Laboratories and community leaders today met to discuss the need for access to quality early childhood care and education.

Mrs. Ryan is looking to members of the business community to comment on concepts that are being developed for a five-year blueprint to provide quality early childhood education opportunities for all three-to-five-year-olds whose parents or guardians want them to participate.

“The care and education of young children is everyone’s business. George has made children a top priority in his administration, and has asked me to spearhead those efforts through an initiative called Futures for Kids,” Mrs. Ryan said.

“Last fall, under Futures for Kids, we convened government and business leaders, parents, advocates, educators and service providers for the Early Care and Education Assembly. Their top recommendation was the creation of a voluntary universal early care and education of young children and their families,” Mrs. Ryan added.

Representatives of Abbott Laboratories gave presentations on business reasons for Abbott Laboratories investment in child-care, the Early Discoveries child-care center and other programs and business collaborations.

Today’s meeting was held at Early Discoveries, Abbott's Center for Child Development, a new 46,000 square foot, state-of-the-art child-care center.

The Task Force on Universal Access to Preschool, created by Governor Ryan in April, 2001, is in the final stages of developing a plan for voluntary, universal access to preschool in Illinois. The Task Force’s plan will be submitted to the Governor and the General Assembly by January 1, 2002. Mrs. Ryan is the chair of the Task Force.



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