CHICAGO – Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget includes a mix of small increases and level funding for some early learning programs and a significant cut to the Child Care program. “We know there are more children and families who need access to high-quality early childhood experiences. Unfortunately, the governor’s funding levels will not allow us to expand or improve these programs,” said Ireta Gasner, vice president, Illinois Policy at the Ounce of Prevention Fund.
The governor’s proposed FY19 budget included the following funding levels for early learning programs:
- $10.5 million increase to the Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) – significantly less than the Illinois State Board of Education included in their proposed budget
- $96.1 million decrease in funding to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)
- Level funding for DHS-funded home visiting
- $3 million increase to funding for Early Intervention (EI)
Funding for CCAP, voluntary home visiting services and EI programs are critically important. These programs are still recovering from the cuts made during the previous budget impasse, which devastated children, families and the human service infrastructure.
- CCAP serves 30,000 fewer children today than before the period of restricted eligibility.
- Illinois has delayed implementation of 12 month eligibility for families – an important CCAP change required by the federal government.
- While many DHS-funded home visiting programs have restored full services, others have closed and all have been level-funded for multiple years.
- Early Intervention is still hampered by payment delays and serves far fewer children than research shows are eligible today.
This budget also proposes to cut health care, mental health, housing, and substance abuse programs and services that, along with early learning, are vital to Illinois’ families and communities.
Additionally, the governor’s call for a $1 billion reduction in state revenues will only compound the state’s inability to fund its stated priorities and serve its residents.
“The governor spoke about his commitment to early childhood in today’s budget address, but he neglected to mention the nearly $100 million in cuts he has proposed to the Child Care Assistance Program,” said Maria Whelan, president and CEO of Illinois Action for Children. “We welcome the governor’s proposed increases to other areas of the early childhood continuum, but he and the Illinois General Assembly must come together to enact a full-year, fully-funded budget that prioritizes all elements of early childhood to give children the best chance at success in school and in life.”