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June 15, 2000

Ryan Signs Great Start Legislation to Attract and Retain Quality Child Care Workers; Fulfills Campaign Pledge

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan today fulfilled his campaign pledge to improve training and reduce turnover for child-care workers by signing legislation designed to help child care facilities attract and retain quality employees.

House Bill 4021, which creates the Great START (Strategy to Attract and Retain Teachers) Program, will help day care centers address the growing problem of high turnover among child care providers.

"Great START is about making sure parents have access to quality child care administered by professional personnel. Our children deserve a stable day care system that is able to focus on serving their needs rather than filling vacant positions," Ryan said.

"During the campaign, I pledged to improve the quality of child care in Illinois through increased funding and by supporting initiatives that encourage worker training and discourage worker turnover. Over the last two fiscal years, we’ve increased funding for child care by more than $200 million. And with the creation of Great START, we’re helping Illinois child care facilities attract and retain quality staff."

Through the use of wage supplements and incentives, Great START is designed to encourage increased professional preparation by staff and improve staff retention at Illinois’ licensed child care centers and day care homes.

The legislation requires the Illinois Department of Human Services to develop a supplement scale that pays increasing amounts for higher levels of education attainment and recognizes longevity of employment. Other incentives such as signing bonuses and longevity bonuses may also be implemented. The governor’s fiscal year 2001 budget includes $3 million for the Great START program.

Great START is part of First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan’s Futures for Kids initiative. Futures for Kids was developed by Mrs. Ryan as an umbrella for programs and policies that make a significant difference in the lives of Illinois’ children.

"Early intervention is a primary focus of Futures for Kids," Mrs. Ryan said. "Through Great START, more Illinois children will be able to get off on the right foot when it comes to developing the skills necessary to reach their full potential."

House Bill 4021 was sponsored by Senators Laura Kent Donahue, R-Quincy; Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale; Barack Obama, D-Chicago; Kathleen Parker, R-Northbrook; and Donne Trotter, D-Chicago. House sponsors included Representatives Elizabeth Coulson, R-Glenview; David Wirsing, R-Sycamore; Rosemary Mulligan, R- Des Plaines; Constance Howard, D-Chicago; and Susan Garrett, D-Lake Forest.


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