Illinois to get $20 million in preschool grants

 
 
Updated 11/30/2016 11:12 AM
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  • During the 2014-15 school year, teacher Romero Bravo sings a song about snack time with his class at the deLacey Family Education Center in Carpentersville. Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 received $890,000 in federal Preschool Development Grant funding that year. Illinois school districts will get $20 million to expand preschool programs next year.

    During the 2014-15 school year, teacher Romero Bravo sings a song about snack time with his class at the deLacey Family Education Center in Carpentersville. Algonquin-based Community Unit District 300 received $890,000 in federal Preschool Development Grant funding that year. Illinois school districts will get $20 million to expand preschool programs next year. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Illinois school districts will receive $20 million to expand access to high-quality preschool programs for all children next year.

It is among 18 states that will receive more than $247 million in early education grants for the third year.

The program -- jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services -- has invested $750 million thus far to expand access to new or improved preschool classrooms in 230 high-need communities.

Last school year, more than 28,000 children nationwide from low-income families had access to early learning programs because of the Preschool Development Grants program.

Among them was Elgin Area School District U-46, which added 10 new preschool classrooms last school year to serve 200 additional preschool students through the grant funding.

This school year, another 35,000 students nationwide were enrolled in preschool programs funded through the grants.

"High-quality early education gives children the strong start they need to succeed in kindergarten," U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr. said in a news release. "All of our children -- regardless of socioeconomic status, race, language spoken at home, disability or ZIP code -- deserve the kind of high-quality early learning opportunities that will prepare them to thrive in school and beyond."

The Department of Education Wednesday released a national report and 18 state progress reports on the program detailing how states are meeting the standards and improving access for at-risk children.

The grants have paid for hiring teachers, expanding to full-day programs, reducing class size or student-teacher ratios, providing evidence-based professional development, and providing comprehensive services, per the report.

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