CHICAGO – In the November edition of Child Magazine, Illinois was ranked among the top 10 safest states for kids. The Magazine conducted a six-month survey of every state, considering protection from both accidents and violence, to determine which states are the safest for children. The survey, which examined more than 55 criteria, including crime rates, child-hood injury rates, and protection from sex offenders, found Illinois to be the sixth safest state in the nation as a result of Governor Blagojevich’s child-safety efforts.
“Nothing is more important than giving our children a safe, healthy environment so they can grow up to reach their full potential. The Child Magazine survey indicates that we’re on the right track with the work we’re doing here in Illinois to keep kids safe,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
According to Child Magazine’s survey, Illinois has the strongest law governing the sale of and notification about recalled children’s products in the U.S., levying fines up to $500 per day. The survey also finds that Illinois is among the nine states with the highest playground-safety scores from the National Program for Playground Safety. Illinois has also met the 54 national standards outlined by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program; Arizona, Florida, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are the only other states to have done so.
As noted in the survey, Gov. Blagojevich has made it his goal to enact child-safety legislation since he was sworn into office. As the father of two young daughters, the Governor has worked tirelessly to improve the health and lives of all Illinois children. Some of the Governors accomplishments include, legislation requiring the use of booster seats through age 7, doubling the amount of behind-the-wheel training teen drivers need in order to receive a license, and mandating that all paroled sex offenders be monitored by a GPS tracking system.
Since taking office in 2003, Gov. Blagojevich has taken numerous steps to protect and enhance the lives of children in Illinois:
· All Kids: In November 2005, Gov. Blagojevich signed the All Kids program into law, making affordable, comprehensive health insurance available to all uninsured children in Illinois. Since taking office in January 2003, Gov. Blagojevich has expanded health care coverage to over 400,000 Illinoisans through programs like FamilyCare, KidCare and All Kids. The Kaiser Family Foundation has ranked Illinois first in the nation for ensuring parents have access to health care and second best state in the nation for providing health care to children who need it.
· Junk Food Ban: In March 2006, the Illinois State Board of Education adopted the Governor’s proposal to ban junk food and soda in Illinois elementary and middle schools and in October 2006, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) approved the rules. Research shows that healthier students have higher attendance rates, better behavior, and superior test scores.
· Preschool for All: In July 2006, Gov. Blagojevich signed the Preschool for All legislation making Illinois the only state in the nation to provide access to high-quality pre-school for every three-year-old and four-year-old child in Illinois. The program, which guarantees 190,000 Illinois children the chance to attend preschool, will reach working families who are not able to afford the high cost of private preschool. Funding for pre-school programs will increase by $45 million this year, allowing 10,000 more children to get an early start on their education. Students who attend preschool are 20 percent more likely to graduate high school, 41 percent less likely to need special education and 42 percent less likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime. Studies also show that for every dollar spent on early childhood education, society saves at least $7 through decreased reliance on social services. Participation in the program for parents is voluntary.