Thursday, February 14 2013, 11:15 PM CST
Kids Count Education Report
URBANA-- "The Kids Count report has been done for 25 years, and I think one of the things we see is there are still challenges that face children and families," says Brenda Koester, Assistant Director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois. This year's Kids Count report, titled Moving Policy, Making Progress, focused on a wide array of factors that affect early childhood development.
Dr. Barbara Fiese, Director of the Center, says, "The biggest challenges that are facing children today have to do with the increased rate in childhood poverty, and being raised in impoverished conditions." Community leaders from several organizations spoke Thursday to address both achievements and challenges that families with children deal with.
"Some of the budgetary decisions that have been made really threaten their access to quality early care and education, Fiese says. Of particular concern is the possibility for severe budget cuts at the federal level that would drastically undermine funding for preschool education.
Says Fiese, "We know that children who attend quality preschool programs are more likely to succeed in elementary school, more likely to graduate from high school, and more likely to get jobs."
For all the positives that have been accomplished, they say there is still more that can be done. Says Koester, "I would like to challenge our community to really talk, and don't let the problems of poverty and children and families that are struggling be something that's silent. And really encourage lawmakers and decision makers to make those hard choices and make those difficult investments."
Adam Rife reporting