For Immediate Release
April 9, 2010

Illinois celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Prekindergarten Program for at-risk children

Pre-K Legislation passed in 1985 has since served more than 800,000 at-risk children in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education recognizes the 25th anniversary of legislation that established the state’s Prekindergarten Program for Children at Risk of Academic Failure. Since its inception, this nationally-recognized program has offered high quality preschool education services to more than 800,000 at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds throughout the state.

“I want to commend all those who helped pass this historic legislation and all those teachers and administrators who continue to work in the field of early childhood education,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We know their efforts have changed lives; that children who participate in these programs make crucial gains and are more likely to be ready and be successful in school.”

Early childhood organizations around the state will join others throughout the nation April 11-18 in celebration of the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s “Week of the Young Child.”

The Prekindergarten Program for Children at Risk of Academic Failure began with a $12 million grant in 1985 and several thousand children. Two more programs were added in 1988; an Early Childhood Model Parental Training Program and the Prevention Initiative, programs that provide early, continuous and comprehensive services for at-risk families and their children. In 2006, The Preschool for All Children Program was established, opening preschool doors for more children in Illinois. All programs combined currently serve more than 100,000 children with $340 million in state funds.

Early childhood funding has increased or stayed level for the past 25 years with the exception of the current fiscal year when funding decreased by 10 percent.

“This was one of the most important pieces of legislation that we’ve had in Illinois,” said Barbara Bowman, founder and faculty member of the Erikson Institute and Chief Early Childhood Education Officer for the Chicago Public Schools. “The evidence from the economists indicates that one of the most cost-effective strategies we can use to improve education for all children is early education.”

For more information about early childhood education, please visit these online sites:

The National institute for Early Education Research:

The National Association for the Education of Young Children at

The Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children at:

The Chicago Metro Association for the Education of Young Children:

The Illinois State Board of Education:

The Erikson Institute: