villanueva pacionezayas 010423CHICAGO —Senators Celina Villanueva and Cristina Pacione-Zayas are proud to support the increased investments in early childhood education from the state, including investments in the Carole Robertson Center for Learning in Chicago.

“The investments made through the Grow Your Own program greatly impact underserved communities in a life changing way,” said Villanueva (D-Chicago). “This initiative gives community members an opportunity to help learn and develop skills to then provide educational support to our youngest Illinois learners thus giving them a better chance at succeeding in life.”

In the last year, Illinois has expanded its investments in the state’s early childhood care and education systems in many ways—such as expanding grant programs to fund child care centers and homes, extending the Child Care Assistance Program for job seekers through June 2023, and increasing access to Child Care Assistance Program benefits. Illinois has also launched the "I Got Love/¡Siento Amor!” program, a statewide enrollment campaign for child care and early education services, increased access to healthy food options in schools, promoting a healthier learning environment, and enacting the Children’s Behavioral Health Transformation Initiative to evaluate and redesign the delivery of behavioral health services for children in the state. These programs have been transformative across the state.   

“So much of a child’s future is dependent on the care they receive in early childhood—so we should support our children as much as possible during this vital phase,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “I am proud of Illinois’ investment in high quality child care programs across our state, and support of innovative educational opportunities to help our children grow into the best versions of themselves.”

Among the investments made include funding for the Carole Robertson Center for Learning in Chicago.The center has served countless young families in Chicago since 1976, welcoming children six weeks to 17 years of age from low-income families. They are one of the largest early childhood education and development organizations with a variety of programs aimed at educating, enriching, and empowering children and families.

The Infant Toddler Development is for children aged six weeks to three years and focuses on supporting a lifelong foundation of learning. The Pre-School Education program is for ages three to five and fosters cognitive and social-emotional growth. Their Out-of-School Time Program is geared toward youth ages five to 17 and provides after-school, summer and school break care with multiple development activities including music writing, woodworking, and gardening. The organization has a presence in 27 diverse communities. Illinois’ Early Childhood Initiatives are supporting the Center and other vital early childhood organizations in their work to educate and support students.

For more information on early childhood education and care, visit the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Early Childhood