SPRINGFIELD — Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that Preschool for All will expand to include 30 new sites this year and 50 existing sites will be expanding their services. This expansion builds on the program’s nationally acclaimed success, bringing the total number of three and four-year-olds served to more than 90,000 and more than doubling Illinois’ commitment to early childhood education since taking office.
“Illinois has taken the lead at the national level with our Preschool for All and we continue to excel as new sites and students are added each year to the program,” said Governor Blagojevich. “All three- and four-year-olds should have the chance to begin their education with a high quality learning experience and Preschool for All is making that a reality.”
Governor Blagojevich initiated Preschool of All and has made a multi-year commitment to early childhood education through the program, more than doubling the state’s commitment to early childhood education since FY 2003. During this time, funding for early childhood education has increased by nearly $200 million. The Fiscal Year 2009 budget includes $32.4 million in additional funding to continue expanding the program toward fully funded Preschool for All. The goal is to continue to increase funding until all children whose families want them in preschool have access to it by Fiscal Year 2011.
“By starting the learning process early with our youngest students, we are setting them on a course for success in school and later in life,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “The Governor and the State Board are committed to Preschool for All, which encourages this success at an early age.”
In March 2009, Illinois was recognized as a national leader for being the first state committed to serving all three-year-olds with quality preschool, according to a report published by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) of Rutgers University.
Earlier this year, the Illinois State Board of Education put out the call for proposals from potential providers for the 2008-2009 school year. Public and private entities with experience in providing educational, health, social and/or child development services to young children were encouraged to submit proposals.
Preschool for All will allow every community to offer high-quality preschool in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, childcare centers, licensed family childcare homes, private preschools, park districts, faith-based organizations, and other community-based agencies. It requires that preschools be staffed by highly qualified teachers who hold teaching certificates in early childhood education and provide at least two-and-a-half hours per day of high-quality programming designed to foster all of the skills – social, emotional, physical, and cognitive – that all young children need.
For more information on Preschool of All, go to www.isbe.net/earlychi
. To find out if a child is eligible for the program, call 1-800-649-1884.