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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on July 14 that School District 65 and the Childcare Network of Evanston (CNE) would receive a total of $21.75 million over five years to provide early childhood services. District 65 and CNE said in a joint press release they “will work closely to ensure the best and most efficient use of these federal funds to support the best outcomes for children and families in its communities.”

District 65’s $13.25 Million Grant

District 65 will receive $13.25 million over the next five years, or $2.65 million annually, to further support and expand early childhood programming and services for students and their families. The Infant Welfare Society of Evanston (IWSE) will be participating with District 65 in providing certain services.

The District, along with the IWSE, will provide Early Head Start services to children ages six weeks to three years old and their families. IWSE will serve 55 children and their families at IWSE. District 65 will serve an additional 24 children and their families at the District’s Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center.

The District’s grant also includes Head Start funding for comprehensive preschool for 180 children, ages 3- to 5-years-old. These children will receive instruction from certified early childhood teachers in formative literacy in reading and math, and problem solving, while encouraging curiosity and cooperating in groups. Since these are District classrooms, there will be an intentional emphasis on preparing young children for kindergarten.

“We are thrilled to receive news of the grant award,” said Paul Goren, superintendent of District 65. “This funding will allow us the opportunity to provide a seamless early childhood experience for our children and families.”

“IWSE is thrilled to be able to continue to support the early learning of very young children and their families through a continuation of Early Head Start services,” said IWSE in a press release. “We value our new partnership with School District 65 and look forward to working together to improve young lives.”

CNE’s $8.5 Milliobn Grant

CNE was awarded $8.5 million over the next five years, to provide early childhood education and family supports to children and families in eight North Suburban communities from Evanston, Skokie, Morton Grove and Lincolnwood to Northbrook, Northfield, Wilmette and Winnetka. CNE will expand its age range for services from prenatal through entrance into kindergarten.

CNE will support 144 children who will receive weekly education and family support visits in their home from early childhood specialists and 28 children who receive early childhood services in family-care settings. In addition to these core services, CNE will provide peer groups for parents; connection to medical services through Erie Family Health Center; linkage to career services through National Able Network; coordination with youth serving organizations to ensure community schools are linked to early learning support; and transition planning for children entering kindergarten.

“This is a great opportunity to follow the vision recently unveiled by HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell for continued improved services for our children and families,” said CNE’s Executive Director, Andrea Densham. “We are eager to begin this important work.”

Partnering

“These grants represent a continuum of opportunities and supports available for Evanston’s children and their families,” said District 65 and CNE.

“We look forward to working alongside the Childcare Network of Evanston and our community partners to provide much-needed programming and services to the children and families of Evanston and Skokie,” Dr. Goren said. “In the coming years, we will work together to find meaningful ways to support our early childhood families.”

“We at CNE look forward to working together with District 65 as we all focus on improving outcomes for children and families,” Ms. Densham added.

School District 65, CNE and IWSE are all participating in the Evanston Cradle to Career initiative. As participants in that initiative they are working with other agencies in Evanston to enhance early learning experiences for infants, toddlers and young children and to provide supports for their families.