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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

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News

For Immediate Release
May 31, 2006

EARLY LEARNING COUNCIL RELEASES
PRESCHOOL FOR ALL REPORT
Report is the Blueprint for Governor’s Initiative

(CHICAGO, May 31, 2006) The Illinois Early Learning Council today released the “Preschool for All” report upon which Governor Rod Blagojevich’s “Preschool for All” initiative is built. The report outlines recommendations which served as the blueprint for Governor Blagojevich’s proposal. The Governor’s preschool expansion legislation passed the Illinois General Assembly with strong bipartisan support.

Illinois is the first state in the nation to make all 3- and 4-year-olds eligible for state-funded preschool. The FY07 budget includes a $45 million increase to reach 10,000 additional children, with continued aggressive expansion planned over the next several years. When Preschool for All is fully funded, 190,000 children will be served.

The Preschool for All report is the product of the Illinois Early Learning Council, which was created in 2003 to make recommendations to meet the early learning needs of all children by establishing a high-quality, accessible and comprehensive early learning system. The Council is co-chaired by Elliot Regenstein, Director of Education Reform for Governor Blagojevich, and Harriet Meyer, President of the Ounce of Prevention Fund.

“Governor Blagojevich has been a champion of preschool funding, and has made Illinois a national leader at preschool expansion,” said Regenstein. “The Preschool for All report is truly the blueprint for that expansion, and we are grateful to the many members of the Early Learning Council whose hard work made this report possible. We know that this report will not only guide the work of thousands of dedicated educators here in Illinois, it will also ensure that Illinois' preschool program will continue to be a model for other states throughout the country."

“The Preschool for All report shows the thinking, priorities and strategies that went into an initiative that is getting national attention,” said Meyer. “We are building on what is right with our early childhood system, including the two-year preschool program, our emphasis on quality and a strong commitment to the notion that learning begins at birth.” Eleven percent of Preschool for All funding is set aside for at risk infants and toddlers.

For the first time, programs will be allowed to use state dollars to serve kids who are not at risk. All programs are encouraged to apply, and awards will be made depending on available funding. Programs that serve primarily at-risk children will be the first priority, but for the first time those programs will be allowed to serve children who are not at risk.

“Preschool for All will bring high-quality preschool to thousands of children who otherwise would not have received it,” said Dr. Vinni Hall, a member of the Illinois State Board of Education who serves on the Early Learning Council. Preschool for All will be administered by the Illinois State Board of Education, except in Chicago, where the will Chicago Public Schools administer the program using the same criteria.

More than 50 appointed Early Learning Council members and more than 200 committee members took part in the process that led to the Preschool for All report. Stakeholders represented schools, the early childhood community, business, law enforcement, the General Assembly, foundations and parents.

The report is available for download at the Illinois Early Learning Council website, and will be printed in June. To view the report, go to: http://www.illinois.gov/gov/elc/reports/Preschool-for-All_051006.pdf

Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777