With students heading back to school, many children are entering prekindergarten classrooms for the very first time. After a difficult 18 months for families with young kids, this is a cause for celebration. I and my colleagues in law enforcement have seen that early childhood education is an important component for putting kids on a path to successful lives, and making our communities safer in the future.
We also celebrate the fact that in August, preschool programs in Rock Island and Moline were awarded over $3 million through the federal Head Start program — a boost made possible by congressional COVID relief efforts. This comes on the heels of a $3.8 million federal grant to help Skip-a-Long Family and Community Services provide essential programs for the families of infants and toddlers in our area.
Early education and child care represent great examples of our federal and state governments coming together to make investments that benefit us all.
In our state, the bipartisan Illinois Early Childhood Funding Commission has recently laid out a roadmap to fully and equitably fund a comprehensive, streamlined system to deliver quality services for children from birth to age 5. While achieving these recommendations will require years of additional state and federal partnership, it is a crucial goal.
According to a 2020 report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, almost 100,000 eligible children are unable to access preschool options in Illinois. Meeting the needs of their families would provide another reason to celebrate.