Tens of millions of dollars in federal grants are helping Illinois expand preschool access and transform teacher prep programs to produce more educators who specialize in high-need areas. But it’s unclear if the state will step up its funding levels when the federal money runs out.
City Colleges of Chicago leaders say a plan to consolidate the child development program at Truman College on the North Side will lead to higher-quality offerings and stronger partnerships with four-year schools. But early childhood experts fear the move will limit access for students on the South and West Sides of the city, blocking pipeline development for bilingual teachers and educators of color.
A federally funded grant program is helping two- and four-year colleges across Illinois team up to find ways to help early childhood education students complete their degrees — and gain the kind of specialized training that can help them become more effective teachers.
Under emergency child care rules imposed July 1 by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Lenita Edgeworth has a difficult choice. She can keep her $16,800 a year job and keep receiving day care assistance for her daughter, Ellie. Or she can pursue her goal of returning to social service work and hope and pray she doesn’t get laid off again, as that would likely spell the end of child care help.
Proposed changes to the rules governing Head Start would make most programs run six hours a day and 180 days a year – a significant expansion that would require additional funding to prevent cuts to teaching jobs and slots.
Politicians and advocates alike have seized on research that says early childhood education offers lasting dividends — as well as on the political expediency of promising a benefit to every voter. As they have, the meaning of “universal” preschool has become, well, not so universal.
Recognizing Illinois’ existing work in early childhood education, the U.S. Department of Education announced today that the state will receive an additional $20 million in annual federal funding to further expand preschool services for 4-year-olds.