IL House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee Protects Access to ‘Preschool for All’ Program for At-Risk Children

Springfield, IL–(ENEWSPF)–February 28, 2010.  This week, legislation sponsored by State Representative Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights) which prevents a significant number of Illinois’ at-risk children from losing access to high quality preschool and developmental services was passed out of the House Elementary and Secondary Eduction Committee.  The bill preserves the Preschool for All Children Program by eliminating the program’s June 2010 sunset date.

“Maintaining access to high quality preschool and developmental services is one of the most important investments our state can make on behalf of our children,” said DeLuca.  “Due to current limitations on this program, if the sunset is not extended, an estimated 20,000 of Illinois’ children will be left without the preschool services they so desperately need.”

Removing the sunset date through House Bill 5322 would allow the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to continue to fund the program.  In effect, this legislation turns the existing Preschool for All Children Program into a statewide preschool program that would be subject to the appropriations process.

The Preschool for All Children Program began as a pilot program in 2006 and was commissioned with the goal of providing children with high quality preschool services based on the model used by Illinois’ 25-year old pre-K program for at-risk children.

The Preschool for All Children Program requires that at least 50 percent of all students receiving services must be deemed ‘at-risk.’  Although the program has been funded at a higher level in recent years, priority for funding still goes to programs serving at-risk children, with second priority going to programs serving low-income children.

“Even though our state continues to grapple with a very difficult budgetary and fiscal situation, our commitment to providing a high quality education for our children should never waver,” DeLuca added.  “It is vital that we prevent this extremely successful preschool program from being wiped off the books, lest we jeopardize the development of a huge number of Illinois’ at-risk children.”

House Bill 5322 passed out of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee by a unanimous vote of 15 – 0, and now awaits consideration by the full House.

 

Source:  State Representative DeLuca