Chicago comes together for first-ever Early Childhood Education Summit

This spring, parents, community allies, and early educators in home- and center-based settings gathered together in Chicago for the first-ever Early Childhood Education Summit.

The summit brought together activists from across the city, united in our determination to increase funding and access to prekindergarten education for Chicago kids and hold decision makers accountable to building the transparent and equitable system that our kids deserve.

Family child care provider Tosha Kelly helped to host the summit, leading a presentation that highlighted the gulf between the resources that the city of Chicago makes available to parents now, and what we’ll need to put all of our kids on the path to educational success.

“Everybody who cares about early education in this city has been saying the same things for a while now, but this is the first time we’ve gathered to work on them together. Everyone at the summit was on board and engaged in keeping this effort moving,” said Tosha.

Tosha, a Head Start graduate herself, spoke from years of experience at the summit, having worked in early education for more than a decade. “We know that Head Start really works when it’s done right, but we can’t separate the need for quality education from the need for quality pay for teachers. One can’t exist without the other—our kids deserve qualified teachers who aren’t struggling with poverty themselves.”

Lydia Dorynek, a preschool teacher at A Children’s Place, was encouraged by the way that parents and teachers found common ground at the summit.


“We came up with lots of good ideas and started to identify smaller fights we can win on the way to the big victory of preschool for all,” said Lydia. “The most important thing right now is increasing public awareness of the importance of early childhood education, and working to increase funding at every level.”