For Immediate Release
November 22, 2011

First coordinated State Early Learning Budget Hearing to be held November 29 in Chicago

CHICAGO – The Illinois State Board of Education, in cooperation with the Office the Governor, Department of Human Services and Department of Children and Family Services announced today that they are working together to host state government’s first ever coordinated Early Learning Budget Hearing. The coordinated budget approach builds on the collaborative method the state used when developing its Early Learning Challenge application for federal funding earlier this fall. The 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29 hearing will be held at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago.

“For Illinois to compete in the global economy, children must have access to good education from birth on,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “We will continue to compete for national grants like the federal Early Learning Challenge and pursue other opportunities to continue improving education in Illinois.”

Last month Illinois submitted an application for $70 million in funding to help significantly improve the coordination and quality of early childhood services in Illinois under the federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge. Illinois’ comprehensive application proposes to build on the state’s history of excellent early childhood education by developing a more unified approach to supporting young children and their families, ensuring children enter kindergarten with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful.

The grant application reflects the collaboration of several state agencies, including the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS), Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and the Illinois Early Learning Council (IELC). The U.S. Department of Education will announce awards later this year.

“Illinois must continue to invest in our youngest students. Research clearly shows that reaching our children sooner prepares them for greater future success,” said Gery J. Chico, Chairman of the State Board of Education. “As we move forward with the budget process for 2013 it’s important we work together to meet the needs of every child in Illinois, especially our youngest learners.”

The Illinois State Board of Education has proposed new Early Childhood rules that would require any school district that offers kindergarten, half or full day, to administer the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, or KIDS, starting in the 2014-15 school year. KIDS will not mean sitting down preschoolers for a timed, bubble-filling exercise but will be developed and implemented as a comprehensive process designed to provide information about children’s developmental competencies over time and to inform whether Illinois’ kindergarteners have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in school. Additionally, ISBE proposes to share information about its preschool programs in a rating system already used for childcare programs registered through the Illinois Department of Human Services. The Board will review public comment and make a final decision on these proposals next spring.

Illinois’ Early Learning Challenge application is designed to provide consistency and ensure improvement in the quality of programs offered through state funds by focusing on educational and developmental components, family support and staff competency. Through greater inter-agency collaboration, Illinois aims to offer a coordinated system of high-quality early learning and development services, particularly for children and families considered to be at risk.

ISBE has already held FY 2013 budget hearings in Springfield, Edwardsville, Champaign and Wheeling this fall. Those who are unable to attend one of the five public hearings are encouraged to email any guidance or feedback to ISBE at