Gov. Pat Quinn wants to increase spending on early childhood development programs. Stacy Thompson, a professor and co-coordinator of the early childhood program, hopes the promise Quinn made in his State of the State address will allow SIU to expand its early childhood educational program.
“Hopefully, more funding will enable the ability to hire more qualified people, and encourage already qualified teachers to seek higher qualifications,” Thompson said.
The program is divided into two sections: preschool/primary and child and family services.
The preschool/primary program focuses on children from newborn to age three. It prepares teachers for public school settings.
The child and family program offers specialization that prepares teachers for careers working with children and their families in non-public school settings or in agencies that provide services to children and families.
“We promote a good program that provides a nice foundation of understanding development strategies for many different types of children. The program has room for more individuals to come in and get properly trained,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the increase in funding would be greatly beneficial to the state as a whole. She said everyone, regardless of his or her career, should care about expanding the programs.
“Even if this wasn’t my career, I believe that children need a warm, stimulating and consistent environment for growth,” she said. “Though it’s still early, I hope that is the major outcome of Quinn’s decision.”
However, Quinn has not outlined how he plans to fund the expansion of the early childhood program.
Since 2009, Illinois has received $52 million in federal money from A Race To The Top Early Learning Grant and $30 million from the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting Grant every year.
Quinn said to reporters in Chicago he would worry about how to fund the program when the time to discuss a budget comes.
According to the Illinois Board of Education, since 2009 the state has had over $800 million in school budget cuts, amounting to roughly 12 percent of its total budget.
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