Rockford’s Orton Keyes, Rockford Day Nursery to expand preschool programs with federal funding

Online Staff Report

During the Dec. 10 summit on Early Education, President Barack Obama (D) announced the City of Rockford’s Head Start program will be one of several communities to receive a portion of $250 million in Preschool Development Grants and $500 million in Early Head Start Child Care Partnership awards to enhance and expand preschool programs and to improve access to high-quality infant and toddler care in high-need communities.

The City of Rockford, along with Rockford Public Schools (RPS), were notified by the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood that Illinois’ application to the Federal Office of Education will be funded over the next four years. This will allow Rockford to expand preschool services for 4-year-old children and to create full-day preschool programs targeting kindergarten readiness and parent support.

With the additional financial support from the grant, the City’s Head Start will provide 40 full-day placements in two classrooms of 20 preschoolers in each classroom: One classroom will be at the Orton Keyes Head Start Site and one at Rockford Day Nursery. Children will attend for a full school day throughout the school year and will be taught by certified teachers.

In addition to the classroom activities, Head Start Family Support staff will provide resources and assistance to the families and children; including health screenings and follow-up, nutrition services, parent education and parent involvement opportunities.

The Preschool Development Grants competition supports states to build or enhance a preschool program infrastructure that would enable the delivery of high-quality preschool services to children, and expand high-quality preschool programs in targeted communities that would serve as models for expanding preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. These grants would lay the groundwork to ensure that more states are ready to participate in the Preschool for All formula grant initiative proposed by the administration.

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Posted Dec. 12, 2014

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