SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The governor praised one Central Illinois school for setting an example of the strides he helped create in early education.

Governor J.B. Pritzker celebrated the legislation he passed to improve childcare in his first term at a news conference at Ball Elementary School in Chatham Thursday, including investing more in the Early Childhood Block Grant. Before the news conference, Pritzker toured the school.

“Thanks to our increases in eligibility and funding for the state’s childcare support program, Illinois is now one of the top 10 states in the nation for childcare accessibility,” Pritzker said. “All the best research shows that focusing your dollars on our youngest children is one of the most fiscally responsible investments that we can make.”

Central Illinois legislators are glad the state is funding better preschools for families in the area.

“There’s this partnership that we have with this district and the other districts throughout the state really shows what that investment means and the dividends that it’s really paying,” Sen. Doris Turner (D-Springfield) said. “We’ve been working together to better early childhood education and I will tell you that I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done to increase access to high quality preschool for children.”

And teachers agree the investment is necessary for a good start for the children of Illinois.

“Research shows that the first five years of life information is retained at a more rapid pace than any other time,” Monica Lee, a preschool teacher at Ball Elementary, said. “This is why it is so important for children to have access to quality preschool programs.”

They also highlighted other programs affecting Illinois schools, including more healthy school lunch options and teaching Asian American history in schools.