CHICAGO – Today, more than 50 early childhood and health organizations around Illinois joined together to send a letter to the 18 members of Illinois’ congressional delegation as well as Sen. Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Duckworth (D-IL), urging their quick action to reauthorize and continue funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting program (MIECHV). Both programs expired September 30, resulting in the longest funding gap in the 20-year history of CHIP and the seven-year history of MIECHV. Historically, both programs have enjoyed strong bipartisan support. The letter urges congressional members to continue investing in the children of Illinois and immediately pass fully funded, five-year extensions for CHIP and MIECHV.
“The lives of at-risk Illinois babies and families are directly improved because of MIECHV funding; without it, they will fall further and further behind,” said Diana Rauner, president, Ounce of Prevention Fund, an early childhood education organization that coordinated the letter. “It is crucial that we continue this investment. We ask our senators and representatives to pass legislation that would extend funding for both MIECHV and CHIP.”
As part of the All Kids Program, which offers healthcare coverage for approximately 1.5 million children of middle-income families in Illinois, CHIP provides nearly $497 million in federal funding for healthcare coverage for an estimated 326,000 Illinois children. All Kids and CHIP ensure these children have access to preventative care, including well-child visits, developmental screenings, immunizations, behavioral health and dental care. As a result of bipartisan support for CHIP, the uninsured rate for Illinois’ children is just 2.5 percent, among the lowest in the country.
MIECHV supports young children and their families, particularly those deemed at-risk, through evidence-based home visiting programs that improve outcomes for children, including health and school readiness. MIECHV funds not only provide services to nearly 1,000 high-risk Illinois families annually, but also allow the state to explore innovative strategies to connect these support systems to additional very high-risk families, such as pregnant and parenting youth in Illinois’ child welfare system, and families experiencing homelessness.
“CHIP and MIECHV have had longstanding bipartisan support for this simple reason: the healthy development of our children is a win for all of us. Healthy bodies are the foundation for healthy development. Championing children’s health and developmental needs today brings long-term social and economic benefits, including increased graduation rates and higher earning potential,” said Sessy Nyman, executive director, EverThrive Illinois, one of the organizations signing the letter to the Illinois congressional delegation. “Illinois’ children and those across the country need Congress to put partisan divides aside and reauthorize these programs.”
Multiple states project that they will run out of CHIP funding by the end of the year. If additional funding is not authorized, both of these programs would end in Illinois once current funding is expended.
About the Ounce of Prevention Fund
The Ounce of Prevention Fund is a private-public partnership dedicated to providing all children – especially those from low income families – with high-quality early childhood experiences from birth to age 5. The Ounce aims to be the nation’s trusted source for early childhood research and program models that focus on the physical, social and emotional development of children from birth to age 5. To give children and families most in-need the best chance for success, the Ounce develops programs, conducts research, trains educators and strongly advocates for early childhood education. Our early childhood programs, such as Educare, have created national models of high-quality early childhood education, ensuring that more children have access to opportunities best suited for their future success.