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posted: 5/12/2014 5:01 AM

Early education saves state funds later

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Even more important than the increase in early learning and development programs throughout Illinois is the state's renewed commitment to continuous quality improvement in these programs ("New early learning centers in suburbs help make Illinois a leader," Daily Herald, May 3). Starting this summer, ExceleRate Illinois, the state's new Quality Rating and Improvement System, will help parents identify high-quality preschool programs, regardless of the program's setting (such as Head Start or a licensed child care center).

Continuous quality improvement helps create effective early learning programs. And research shows that early childhood education significantly improves the educational and life success of all children.

Learning begins early and each Illinois child deserves to be in an environment that's safe, healthy, emotionally supportive and cognitively stimulating, staffed by well-trained professionals. Every dollar invested in high-quality early education yields $7 savings later through higher graduation rates, decreases in teen pregnancies and violent crimes.

Children who receive high quality early education are ready to learn when they reach kindergarten. ExceleRate Illinois helps parents identify quality child care, helps providers of child care accelerate excellence and helps Illinois preschoolers succeed in school and in life.

Theresa Hawley

Executive director

Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development

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