Knocking down barriers to free preschool

It took years, some would say decades, to get universal preschool off the ground in Illinois. So when Preschool for All got a green light three years ago, it was cause for celebration, especially among early childhood education advocates who had worked assiduously behind the scenes and on the frontlines to make it happen. But then, a curious thing happened. In some places, shiny new preschool classrooms set up shop, and nobody came.

Serving newcomers

Less than half of the children of immigrant parents are in preschool, one study found. Advocates say families need extra help navigating the pre-k maze.

More than just a welcome mat

Illinois has won national recognition for its Preschool for All program, and ranks first in the nation for providing preschool to 3-year-olds. A new agenda is now on the horizon: Find and enroll youngsters who are the most at-risk of academic failure, including children of immigrants and those who are homeless.