Chicago, Start Early announce partnership to improve local early childhood education

Nonprofit Start Early formerly known as The Ounce of Prevention
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new effort is launching Thursday to level the playing field for every child in the city, helping them to succeed in kindergarten and then in life.

Diana Rauner, the former first lady of Illinois and president of Start Early, the nonprofit formerly known as "The Ounce of Prevention," joined ABC 7 Chicago Thursday to talk about "Every Child Ready Chicago."


The city of Chicago is leading the public-private project in partnership with Start Early, formerly the Ounce of Prevention Fund. The multi-year effort seeks to align the prenatal-to-5 systems and supports serving Chicago's children and families, creating a coordinated early childhood ecosystem that prepares every child in the city to succeed, Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said in a statement.

"As a city, we must ensure every child, regardless of their zip code, receives a high-quality early education, providing them the tools and opportunities they need to thrive," Lightfoot said.

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Just one in three Black children and one in five Latinx children in the city are considered "ready" for kindergarten based on the most recent state Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, Lightfoot's office said.

"Research proves quality early childhood experiences can level the playing field and help children and families overcome many of the inequities that have been magnified by the pandemic," Rauner said.

This fall, Every Child Ready Chicago will convene leaders from early childhood programs and services, research and advocacy communities, parents and families of young children and city agencies to create a shared and inclusive vision of what a high-quality early learning system looks like.

This Early Childhood Working Group will guide the city and help lay the groundwork for a multi-year strategic plan to create a strong and equitable system where all children, particularly those in under-resourced communities, have access to quality services and achieve positive outcomes, officials said.

For more information, visit chicagoearlylearning.org.
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