Because my grandson was not talking very well at age three he was eligible for free preschool in Will County. My daughter and I talk all the time about what an incredible blessing it was that preschool was made available to him. He will start kindergarten next fall with a much better chance of success.
Unfortunately, in my community on the west side of Chicago and other low income Chicago neighborhoods, most of the children do not have this advantage. Recent research conducted by Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), found that 40 to 64% of preschool aged children in low-income communities are not in any early education program. The report, “Why Isn’t Johnny In Preschool?” is based on over 5,000 interviews in 19 low-income African-American and Latino neighborhoods across the city.
The Catalyst Notebook blog noted, "Factors that kept children out of preschool included lack of transportation, scheduling conflicts, immigrant families’ fear of deportation and a shortage of slots."
We were encouraged to learn that the students who participated in our Breakthrough Beginners program tested at 72% in the Bracken Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, compared to 17% for those in our after school program who did not attend Breakthrough Beginners. What a difference good early childhood education makes! We plan to open a licensed preschool in our new FamilyPlex facility scheduled to open in 2011.