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Taking an Ounce of Prevention to the Federal Level

Illinois' Ounce of Prevention Fund, founded in 1982, is a national leader in advocacy and services for infants, toddlers, and young children. In 2006, the Ounce led the work that made Illinois the first state in the nation to offer universal preschool. The following year, it teamed up with a group of five family foundations to launch the First Five Years Fund. Led by former Chicago Tribune editorial writer Cornelia Grumman, FFYF aims to focus national attention and resources on quality care and education for children ages 0 to 5.

Two heavy-hitters, both named Harriet, are taking positions to help FFYF and the Ounce make a greater impact nationally. Harriet Dichter, formerly secretary of public welfare for Pennsylvania, is joining FFYF as its national director. Prior to her cabinet post, Dichter spent many years in the field of early childhood. She helped establish Pennsylvania's Office of Child Development and Early Learning for the Departments of Public Welfare and Education.

"We know Harriet's new position will allow her to be an important voice for all states that look to the federal government and its leaders for more help in implementing strong and effective early education policies and programs," said Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in a press release circulated by FFYF.

Meanwhile, longtime Ounce of Prevention Fund President Harriet Meyer is moving out of the presidency into a more strategic role. "[Meyer] is going to be even more involved with us," Grumman told me today. She'll be working with FFYF on national strategy, as well as cultivating investors to expand the Bounce Learning Network, which already operates 10 high-quality early childhood education centers serving low-income children. The goal is to double over the next two years, including adding a center in Washington, D.C.

Watch out Congress, the Ounce is coming after you!

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