Millions more at stake for early childhood ed

Print More

Early childhood advocates are gearing up to make their pitch for how Illinois should spend money from the economic stimulus bill that is targeted to early education.

Illinois stands to reap an additional $186 million for such programs, including $73 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, $77 million for Head Start and Early Head Start, $18.3 million for special education preschool and $17.5 for infant and toddler programs. That’s in addition to whatever the state ends up getting in the regular federal budget, which President Barack Obama just submitted to Congress last week.

The Illinois State Board of Education is waiting for guidelines from the federal government on how the extra stimulus money should be used and by when. Advocates say they’ve heard that some of the money may need to be spent as early as June or July.

In the meantime, the Illinois Early Learning Council plans to develop recommendations for the state to use in spending the money once the federal government releases its guidelines, which are expected by mid-March.

 

Early childhood advocates are gearing up to make their pitch for how Illinois should spend money from the economic stimulus bill that is targeted to early education.

Illinois stands to reap an additional $186 million for such programs, including $73 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, $77 million for Head Start and Early Head Start, $18.3 million for special education preschool and $17.5 for infant and toddler programs. That’s in addition to whatever the state ends up getting in the regular federal budget, which President Barack Obama just submitted to Congress last week.

The Illinois State Board of Education is waiting for guidelines from the federal government on how the extra stimulus money should be used and by when. Advocates say they’ve heard that some of the money may need to be spent as early as June or July.

In the meantime, the Illinois Early Learning Council plans to develop recommendations for the state to use in spending the money once the federal government releases its guidelines, which are expected by mid-March.

“When the guidelines come out, the state will have to work quickly to get guidance to school districts,” says Kay Willmoth, the director of the Office of Family and Child Development in the Chicago office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the council in February. “We will need to act quickly.”

Illinois could gain additional dollars from competitive grants that are part of the stimulus package. The bill includes $5 billion in such grants for K-12 education, meant to reward states and school districts that develop innovative practices in areas such as improving teacher quality.

“This money is up for grabs,” says Sonya Anderson, the national director for The First Five Years Fund, a project of the Ounce of Prevention Fund. “It is an exciting time, but there are also a lot of questions.  Everyone is holding their breath.”

Anderson suggests, for instance, that the competitive grants provide an opportunity for early childhood programs to partner with universities or other institutions on issues such as creating better curricula for teaching young children.

Posted by: Debra Williams