By Ireta Gasner, Assistant Director of Illinois Policy, Ounce of Prevention Fund and Amy Zimmerman, Program Director, Legal Council for Health Justice
We applaud Comptroller Munger and the Department of Human Services for recognizing the imminent collapse of the Early Intervention system and the state’s obligation under both federal law and court orders to provide mandated Early Intervention services to the thousands of eligible children and families who are entitled to this help. There are more than 20,000 children receiving Early Intervention services in Illinois.
In addition to avoiding costly litigation, these actions help avoid the potential loss of millions of dollars in federal funding. We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that all providers are paid in a timely fashion.
We are pleased with the reinstatement of funds for Early Intervention but we remain concerned that all children will not continue to receive the life-changing services they need without a fair, fully-funded budget that invests in young children and families. Early Intervention, the Child Care Assistance Program and home visiting services are just some of the interconnected programs that make up the early learning system in Illinois.
At a time of financial uncertainty in Illinois, investments in early learning are some of the soundest investments the state can make, and research has proven that every dollar spent on early education yields $7 in future savings. The only way to truly protect these vital programs that put young children and families on the path to success is for the General Assembly and governor to work together to approve a fair, fully-funded budget.
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 five. 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.
About Legal Council for Health Justice
Legal Council for Health Justice (formerly AIDS Legal Council of Chicago) uses the power of the law to secure dignity, opportunity, and well-being for people facing barriers due to illness and disability. Our evidence-based medical-legal partnership programs work uniquely with health and hospital systems to train and support the care provider network, provide direct representation to referred patients, and conduct systemic advocacy to promote health equity among populations facing chronic, disabling, and stigmatized health and social conditions. www.legalcouncil.org.