$200 Million to help Illinois college students seeking a career in education

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 6:12 PM CST
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DEKALB, Ill. (WIFR) - A statewide shortage of teachers prompts the state of Illinois to help prospective educators by taking away financial barriers.

The federal government will pump $200 million into the Illinois program called Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity. That money will be spread out across the state for students who want to become teachers and educators, especially those targeting degrees in early childhood education.

Northern Illinois University Dean Laurie Elish-Piper says, “Children develop more cognitively from birth to age 5 than any other time in their lives. They develop their language, they develop a number of their behaviors that will help them be successful, and having high-quality early childhood programs for all children will be transformational.”

Making sure there are teachers ready to help students on the learning path is a struggle these days. Experts say it’s even more difficult finding early childhood educators. But NIU and several others in higher education want to change that.

“By having highly qualified educators, those children will have access to really rich learning experiences so they can grow and develop to their full potential,” says Elish-Piper.

The Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Program allows students to graduate with no debt. NIU leaders believe it will work and would like to see up to 160 participants in their portion of the program. Experts say many future educators often find it difficult to get a degree because of financial challenges.

Isabel Maas is a future student and current student assistant teacher at Spectrum in Rockford.

“This gift will be absolutely amazing so I could focus on my studies and not have to worry about how am I going to pay for it.”

Students can get more information at NIU.edu and search for Early Childhood.

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