To the Editor:
A bipartisan group of policymakers recently gathered in Marion, focusing on advancements in early childhood services — some already achieved, some still in the planning stages (“Southern Illinois providers benefit from new state child care programs,” Jan. 23 Southern Illinoisan).
Summing up, Gov. Pritzker said it should be “a goal for Illinois to be the best state in the nation to raise children.” And if that entails further bolstering early education and child care, business leaders are definitely on board since those efforts are literally good for business.
The business community increasingly understands that, when we strengthen young children’s care and education, we also reinforce our foundation for workforce skills and economic development. Years of research show that high-quality early learning opportunities help shape both the technical and social-emotional skills that kids need to do well — first in school and, later, on the job.
Unfortunately, recent state assessments show only one in four young children are entering kindergarten fully prepared for school. So, we’ve got to do a better job of helping kids during a time in their lives when that help arguably counts most.
The good news: We have many important building blocks already in place, ranging from steadily improving state policies to strong, local providers such as Robin’s Nest Learning Center and the Presbyterian Child Development Center of Carbondale.