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September 13, 2000

First Lady, Futures for Kids Panel Address Early Care and Education

CHICAGO -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today addressed the Futures for Kids Assembly on Early Care and Education to discuss essential child care needs facing Illinois families.

The Assembly will gather today and tomorrow to make recommendations in three primary focus areas: quality, affordability and accessibility of early care and education. These recommendations will then be presented to the Futures for Kids Advisory Panel in October and later to the Governor for consideration in the FY 2001 budget.

"Good early education experiences help ensure that young children have opportunities to build their language and literacy skills so they can enter school ready to learn and read," said Mrs. Ryan.

Through Futures for Kids, the Ryan Administration is taking a comprehensive look at the programs and policies that impact children's education, health and safety.

"We are coordinating state agency programs for children and families so that we provide the best programs to the most people using our resources in the most effective way possible," said Mrs. Ryan.

Assembly members represent business, local education agencies, Head Start, parents, home and center based child care providers, policy makers, and parents.

The National Governor's Association awarded Illinois, through Futures for Kids, funding to create a strategic plan for early care and education and create the means to implement the plan. Metropolis 2020 and the Tribune Foundation have also provided funding to address these issues.

Key elements in Governor Ryan's strategic plan to strengthen families and improve the overall health and educational status of Illinois' children focus on expanding availability and improving the quality of early care and education. The plan's goals call for expanding early education programs for at-risk children, investing state dollars to improve quality in child care centers, using incentives for worker retention, and increasing training and adding scholarships for child care workers.

Currently, the State of Illinois has three major programs for children ages birth to five. They include the Early Childhood Education Block Grant administered by the Illinois State Board of Education, Subsidized Child Care under the Illinois Department of Human Services and federal Head Start. The combined programs served approximately 320,000 children during FY 2000 at an estimated annual cost of $840 million.


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