Pritzker administration secures $40.2 million preschool grant

A preschool teacher engages students in a lesson.

To help address shortages in Illinois’ early childhood education workforce, state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, sponsored a measure aimed at increasing degree completion among experienced child care educators. House Bill 2878 passed both chambers of the General Assembly and now goes to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk for final approval. 

“Illinois is facing a major shortage of early childhood educators,” said Stuart. “Current training programs aren’t flexible enough for a lot of students, especially those who are already working full time and want to keep their job while pursuing a bachelor’s degree. My bill aims to ensure early childhood education students don’t have to drop out of the workforce or spend time and money retaking courses they’ve already completed as they work toward their degree.”

Stuart sponsored House Bill 2878, which pushes community colleges and universities to participate in a statewide consortium tasked with streamlining the process for experienced childcare educators to earn their teaching degree. Twice per year, the consortium must report to the General Assembly on its progress to improve affordability and design more flexible courses for working students in early childhood education degree programs.

“This bill supports members of the early childhood workforce, with the goal of keeping them on track to earn their degree in this field,” said Stuart. “Removing barriers for these students not only enables them to take the next step in their career, but also benefits children and families. Early childhood education is the foundation for learning, and this legislation will help get more qualified educators into the industry.”