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Access & Resources

Latino population growth continues to outpace resource distribution particularly in the areas of education and social services across Illinois. This disparity can be reflected in lack of access to high quality educational options, limited resources and lack of representative leadership.

There is a growing body of evidence that high quality early care and education is the cornerstone for kindergarten readiness and a proactive investment that yields a significant return on investment especially for Latino children and English Learners.  Nearly 14,000 new preschool seats will become available through 2018 in Illinois with Chicago planning for over 3,700 additional slots in preschool and 1,100 in Early Head Start as a result of public and private investments.  However, only 40 percent of eligible Latino children are enrolled in state funded preschool programs and eight percent in both federally and state funded birth-to-three programs.  Furthermore, growing demand for early childhood programming in high need communities illuminates the long-standing challenges with limited resources to establish developmentally appropriate and safe facilities.

Additionally, community-based organizations, social service agencies and school districts rely on accurate and timely research and analysis to inform how they support linguistically and culturally diverse children and families.  Furthermore, these partners benefit from support and technical assistance with navigating the policy arena to advocate on behalf of the communities they serve.

Lastly, children need mirrors to reinforce their aspirations for leadership. Often those who share similar backgrounds can offer more than their educational credentials in the form of what Geneva Gay, a professor of education at the University of Washington-Seattle, would call “experiential filters.” They can provide valuable insight and elevate nuanced issues, challenges and barriers to success that Latino families sometimes experience within school systems.

The Forum advocates for all Latino children and English Learners (ELs) to have access to high quality education that is linguistically and culturally responsive.  To meet this overarching goal, the Forum promotes three strategies:

  1. Increase the number Latino children and ELs in high quality ECE programs and facilities in high need communities;
  2. Enhance organizational capacity of Latino-led and Latino-serving ECE programs;and
  3. Promote policy, programs, and services that lead to:

For more information on the Forum's work on equitable access and resource distribution, please contact Erika Mendez