Reforms would benefit early childhood education programs in Illinois

by Sharita Forrest  /   Sep 10, 2013

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SEPTEMBER 10, 2013, UI NEWS BUREAU, CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois officials need to re-examine enrollment and funding policies for the state’s public early childhood education programs to eliminate barriers that may keep the neediest of children from attending.

This is one of the recommendations in a recent report by Susan Fowler (left in photo) and Dawn Thomas that examined strategies for recruiting “hard to reach” families used by six of the state’s preschool/day care providers during a 16-month pilot study. Three Head Start, Preschool for All or child care providers in Chicago participated in the study along with providers in Elgin, Harrisburg and Olympia Fields. Each of the programs received about $60,000 in funding from the Bureau of Child Care in the Illinois Department of Human Services to develop their projects.

Fowler is a faculty member in the Department of Special Education in the College of Education; Thomas is the project coordinator for the Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map.

Although each agency made its own determination of families that they considered “hard to reach,” common characteristics included single parent households affected by poverty, homelessness, substance abuse and lack of transportation.

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Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, UI News Bureau.