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There is no doubt that the first years of life are vital in the launching of successful students and citizens. Brain science is clear. Social science is clear. Engage a child at two and three socially and intellectually and you have built a foundation for success.
That engagement should begin in the home. Most often it is, sometimes it is not. But even when a child is growing up in an active and loving home there are still benefits to involving children in pre-school.
For many years our area has been blessed with a volunteer-driven group called the Collaboration for Early Childhood Care and Education (now renamed the Collaboration for Early Childhood). Their mission was to raise the quality of existing daycare and to undertake outreach to the families of kids believed to be at risk developmentally.
Now, after completion of a strategic plan, the Collaboration has more ambitious plans to work more closely with District 97 elementary schools, Oak Park and River Forest High School and the village government to fund an expanded effort to expand pre-school services and also family outreach.
There is a great deal of discussion to be had about how a nonprofit might partner with taxing bodies, about the efficacy of taxing bodies sharing resources in an area beyond their narrowly defined mission. That said, there is no doubt that we will raise stronger students and be a better community if we focus early on our children.