Smart Start for Your Baby

Children who enter early childhood  educational programs are more likely to:

  • make better grades in school

  • graduate from high school

  • hold a job

  • earn more money

  • attend college

  • wait until adulthood to have a child

Find a Head Start & Early Head Start Program Near You

Affordable Child Care

The Illnois Dept. of Healthcare (IDHS) knows how important it is for you to find quality child care for your child. The IDHS Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency are working together to support families to get the information and resources you need to find and select the best child care for their child. Find out more about programs available to you at the link below.

Illinois Basics

Illinois Basics: five powerful ways to help your children, aged 0-3, grow to be happy and smart.


Why read to your children?

Help your child develop language skills by reading aloud to them. It is one of the most important things that you can do for your child.

Tips for Reading Together

Consider these strategies for before, during, and after reading a story together.

Before Reading:

Talk about books before you read them.

Put two books in front of children and say, “Let’s choose a book!” Then kids can point to or reach for their choice. Look at the front cover together. Ask, “What do you think the book will be about?” For younger children, point and say what you think.

During Reading:

Look for ways to make the words and pictures come to life!

Ask children to help turn the pages (babies can’t turn pages on their own, but at 18 months, might begin to try). Try using different voices for each character and act out scenes with gestures or body movements. Read in a sing-song voice. Let children chime in with the last word of a familiar line. “The cat in the…(hat)!” Run your finger under the words as you read to help kids understand there’s a difference between words and pictures. Don’t worry about pointing out each individual word—it’s important for children to hear the rhythm of language, too. Point to and comment on pictures. Ask, “What’s happening on this page?”

After Reading:

Now it’s the perfect time to talk about the story and let children share what they remember.

Ask questions that invite children to think about why certain characters did something or felt a certain way. “Let’s go back to this page where Peter looked mad. Why was he mad? What did he decide to do?” Encourage children to share their favorite parts of the story (describing them or acting them out). Connect the story to kids’ lives (“Have you ever felt the same way as this bunny?”).

From Sesame Street in Communities https://sesamestreetincommunities.org

Find your Library

Visit your local library regularly for a large selection of books for your child, helpful librarians, internet access, and programs for your children.