– The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today announced a $4 million federal award to support and strengthen the early care and education system in the state. Illinois will use the Preschool Development Grants Birth through Five (PDG B-5)
to build on Governor JB Pritzker’s commitment to prepare all of Illinois’ youngest learners for success before kindergarten and beyond. ISBE and the Illinois Department of Human Services will administer the grant.
Projects funded by the grant include an initiative to improve the capacity of community-based early learning providers to identify and serve English learners. Community-based providers do not have to follow the same requirements as their public school counterparts, leading to gaps in identification and services across programs. The project will provide training for community-based early learning providers to interview families and administer language screeners, as appropriate, and will deploy a team of consultants to conduct screening services on site when needed.
“Early childhood is a crucial time in a child’s development that builds the foundation for years of learning to come, and all children deserve access to the learning supports and opportunities they need to thrive regardless of zip code or family finances,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I’m glad that President Biden and I share a commitment to uplifting our youngest and most in-need learners with grants like this one, and I know the Illinois State Board of Education will put this money to use meeting families and children where they are.”
“We know that investing in high-quality early childhood programs benefits not just the families of young children but entire communities. Children who have access to high-quality early learning programs have stronger academic, social, and life outcomes,” said interim State Superintendent of Education Krish Mohip. “Illinois’ mixed-delivery early childhood system – with providers in school districts and community-based organizations – provides families with equity, access, and options. The PDG B-5 grant will allow the state’s early childhood stakeholders to come together to further strengthen coordination, quality, and outcomes across the system.”
“Every investment we make in early childhood infrastructure pays dividends for Illinois communities,” said IDHS Secretary Grace Hou. “I am thrilled to see additional federal funds being leveraged to strengthen our state’s ability to serve our youngest residents. IDHS is eager to contribute fully to the successful implementation of this grant opportunity, building on Governor Pritzker’s extraordinary commitment to children and families.”
The grant will bring together diverse stakeholders from state agencies, higher education, advocacy groups, and research entities to support strategic planning and evaluation with the goal of improving coordination throughout the early childhood delivery system. The grant will support the identification of programmatic gaps and solutions to better support and strengthen the early childhood workforce. The grant will fund a range of activities from data collection and data system integration, to family outreach and communication, to infrastructure mapping and program evaluation, to model program pilots and professional development.