Money is vital. We need it to pay the rent, splurge on unnecessary knick knacks at Target, and generally survive.
Preschools need money to pay teachers, buy supplies, and run facilities. They get that through complex funding systems.
And those funding systems are a mess.
Just today, one of my coworkers told me that one of my students might get kicked out of our Head Start Program because she's been out sick for a week because she has bronchitis. "She'll need doctors notes for everyday. Proof. Otherwise they'll fill up her spot."
Stories like that can seem ridiculous, but the problem is even bigger. Certification requirements often change, pushing out quality teachers who cannot afford to pay out of pocket for a new set of classes. If a parent gets a slight raise or promotion, their child could get kicked out of daycare. In fact, under the Head Start Program, an Illinois family of EIGHT needs to make less than a single 24 year-old teacher.
Looking at specifics- there are often two programs involved: Preschool for All (state) and Head Start (national). Those systems do not have the same requirements. A very long dive into the depths of the Illinios State Board of Education website will show you that there is a sample form that could possibly be used to solve any disputes. How long will that take? Oh, it's be solved "on a timeline," according to the unofficial sample.
If a system is broken, how do you fix it? There is no easy answer. There is no single person who can make funding functional. We need policy makers, teachers, and parents to come together. We need to acknowledge that there is a problem.
So, here's step one. There's a problem with Preschool Funding. Let's work on getting that fixed.