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February 10, 2000

Illinois Receives Early Child Education Assistance From NGA

SPRINGFIELD -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today announced that Futures for Kids will receive support from the National Governor’s Association to develop a strategic plan for early childhood care and education for Illinois children.

"Illinois intends to use the technical support provided by the NGA and the Packard Foundation to create a plan for Governor Ryan’s vision of improving the overall health and educational status of Illinois’ youngest citizens," Mrs. Ryan said. "The technical assistance offered through the NGA and Foundation will bring in expert resources to assist us in framing an agenda to help Illinois families."

The NGA Center for Best Practices has selected five states -- Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Washington, and Wisconsin -- to receive extensive technical assistance over two years to build public and political support for early childhood education initiatives. Through a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Center will help the five states gain a better understanding of the perceptions of the general public, policymakers, advocates, and other key stakeholders.

The selected states will work with experts at the NGA, visit other states to learn from successful initiatives, and receive individualized assistance to further the goals of their individual strategic plans. After two years of assistance, NGA will host a national event to showcase the work of the five states and share what they have learned with other interested state policymakers.

Twenty-five states submitted proposals. The Center is aggressively pursuing additional funding sources to support the inclusion of other states in the project.

In Governor Ryan’s 1998 campaign position paper entitled "Our Future — Our Children," he laid out his strategic plan to strengthen families and improve the overall health and educational status of Illinois’ children.

Key elements of the strategic plan focus on expanding the availability and improving the quality of childcare. To achieve the quality goals his blueprint called for:

  • The expansion of early education programs for at-risk children;
  • Investment of state dollars to improve quality in child care centers;
  • The use of incentives for worker retention;
  • Additional training and scholarships for child care workers.

In his first month in office, Governor and Mrs. Ryan launched the Futures for Kids initiative, a prevention and intervention program designed to increase success in school, reduce youth substance abuse and juvenile delinquency. Futures for Kids focuses on four key components: early intervention programs for children ages birth to10; family and community involvement programs; school success and safe neighborhoods.

Mrs. Ryan chairs the Futures for Kids Advisory Panel consisting of leaders from business, government, education, research and children’s advocacy groups.


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