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Governor Promotes "Smart Start Illinois" in QC

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Governor Pritzker (with l to r RI Mayor Mike Thoms, Lt.Gov. Julianna Stratton, Grace Hou-Secretary Ill. Dept Health & Human Services, Marcy Mendenhall Skip-a-Long pres. & ceo)

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker stopped in Rock Island Wednesday morning as part of a statewide tour promoting his proposal called "Smart Start Illinois."

He wants the state to allocate millions of dollars for pre-school and childcare - to build new centers, renovate current centers, and help them expand so more kids can sign up.

"That will provide every three and four year old with access to a pre-school program, insure more of our most vulnerable families can receive evidence-based early intervention and home visitation services, provide more equitable access to our child care system, and increase the pipeline of early childhood educators."

He says a study by the University of Chicago found that for every one dollar spent on child care and early childhood programs, there's a savings of seven dollars for taxpayers.

Pat Allison, site director for Skip-a-Long Child Development Services in Rock Island, says the governor's proposals would allow her to serve more children.

"Increasing wages will help me to address workforce shortages, increase staff recruitment efforts, and help me to open three classrooms that are closed because I can't find qualified staff."

She says her center currently serves 110 children every day, but with new workers she could serve up to 150.

Allison would also like to replace the current buildings that are about 50 years old, rather than continue to repair them.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.