Public Awareness Building

The Collaboration for Early Childhood’s work in public awareness building often occurs hand-in-hand with public events, but it goes beyond that, too. The Collaboration for Early Childhood participates in conversations around the power of a collective impact model, and speaks about the process of building an equity framework to ensure that all organizational work is viewed through a racial equity lens.

Every local election in Oak Park, The Collaboration for Early Childhood issues a short survey to candidates. This is an opportunity to hear about the candidate’s proposed action steps to ensure that every child has access to affordable, high-quality child care and support. It is also an opportunity to help candidates become familiarized with the Collaboration’s unique public/private partnership structure.

More than thirty years of research has established conclusively that high-quality early childhood experiences are critical for a child’s later success in primary and secondary school and beyond. Universal access to high-quality care and education is key to bridging achievement gaps in Oak Park school districts, and around the country. Research also shows that high-quality early experiences break down barriers to success and result in children who grow up to lead healthier and more productive lives.

Many people are not aware of the economic impact of the early childhood sector on Oak Park. There are 42 center-based providers, 24 licensed home-based providers, and an undetermined number of unlicensed/informal providers in Oak Park and River Forest. We estimate that these programs employ an estimated 600 individuals, making childcare/preschool one of the larger industries in our community.

Moreover, as demonstrated by Professor James Heckman, a Nobel laureate whose research focuses on the benefits of social investments, public underwriting of early childhood development produces a very high return on investment. Every dollar invested in quality early childhood produces $7-$10 in savings on remedial education, law enforcement, and other public expenditures. The Collaboration for Early Childhood works to connect the dots between investing in accessible, high-quality early childhood programs and the success and health of our community as a whole for years into the future.