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Free Pre-K Program in Western Illinois Gives Kids the Edge for a Quality Education

Free Pre-K Program in Western Illinois Gives Kids the Edge for a Quality Education

MACOMB – Kids win and get an edge on their early education thanks to free preschool programs for children living in western Illinois. The Regional Office of Education (ROE) #26 is again collaborating with three Macomb daycare centers and Hamilton and Warsaw school districts to provide state-recognized educational programs to better prepare kids for Kindergarten.

“We are thrilled with these ongoing partnerships of providing the best in high-quality Pre-K education for our local children,” says John Meixner, Regional Superintendent of Schools. “Area families who have children enrolled in the Preschool for All program will see their children better prepared to enter kindergarten ready to learn according to age appropriate academic levels.”

Meixner says around 160 children are typically enrolled in either half-day morning and afternoon sessions at all five partner sites, and predicts full enrollment throughout the coming school year. ROE 26 is entering its 13th year of collaboration with the Macomb area daycares, and seven years partnering with Hamilton Community Unit School District 328 and five years with Warsaw Community Unit School District 316.

“Since the introduction of the Preschool for All Program in our region, area partners in Macomb are Wesley Christian Child Development Center, Catch A Star Learning Center and the YMCA Community Child Care Center,” Meixner says. “Eventually, both Hamilton and Warsaw school districts in Hancock County partnered with this program, as well. Each site provides classroom space and an assistant for our teachers. Directors or administrators at these sites help us share the word with parents about this free-of-charge Pre-K program.”

The State of Illinois’ Preschool for All strategy, provided through its ExceleRate Illinois Program, was initiated in 2006. It is a free, state-funded learning and development program allowing young children to get a jump start on their early education.  Daycares/Schools enrolled with ExceleRate Illinois meet specific academic criteria and earn ratings evaluated by the state to offer best outcomes for learning success.

ExceleRate is a collaborative effort with regional offices of education to provide high quality, affordable education for Illinois families*.

Meixner explains teachers and assistants also help in the screening process every fall and spring. “Assistants help determine through student assessment screenings if a child is at an appropriate age level for Pre-K learning. They also can identify any possibility that a child may have learning disabilities and determine corrective assistance so that he or she doesn’t fail at this critical stage of their education.”

To learn more about the free of charge Preschool for All Program in your area, visit the ROE 26 website at ROE 26 represents and serves schools in Fulton, Hancock, McDonough and Schuyler counties in west-central Illinois.

*ExceleRate Illinois is administered through the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) under the joint direction of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, the Illinois Department of Human services (IDHS), and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). It is funded by IDHS and ISBE with additional funding and support from the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant. 

INCCRRA is a statewide organization in which its partnership with its 16 local Child Care Resources and Referral (CCR&R) agencies is a recognized leader, catalyst and resource for making high quality, affordable early care and education and school-age care options available for children and families in Illinois. It provides support through a number of statewide systems and services, including ExceleRate Illinois.