A budget win for early childhood programs and services

We’re thrilled to report that the Illinois General Assembly recently passed the state’s Fiscal Year 2020 state budget and Gov. JB Pritzker indicates he will sign it into law! The final budget provides significant funding for the state’s early childhood system:

  • $50 million increase to the Early Childhood Block Grant at the Illinois State Board of Education to expand and improve birth-to-five early childhood services;
  • $28.8 million increase to the Child Care Assistance Program at the Department of Human Services to expand income eligibility from 185% to 200% below the Federal Poverty Line and to commit significant resources to the department for much needed program outreach and recruitment, among other improvements;
  • $12 million increase to the Early Intervention program at the Department of Human Services to accommodate the state’s growing caseload and workforce pressures;
    • Additionally, legislation to implement the budget also includes language to ensure that young children exposed to lead are eligible for Early Intervention services; and
  • Level-funding for evidence-based home visiting programs for expectant and new parents through Healthy Families and Parents Too Soon in the Department of Human Services.

In addition to these important annual investments, the legislature also passed a new capital infrastructure plan that includes $100 million in facilities funding for school districts and child care centers through the Early Childhood Construction Grant program. With these funds, early learning providers will be able to build new or update existing classrooms for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers across the state.

Several other important early childhood bills have been approved by the legislature, including:

  • SB1952 (Manar, Scherer) – a bill that eliminates the Basic Skills Test requirement for future teachers and allows for the payment of student teachers in schools and child care centers;
  • HB2237 (Gabel, McGuire) – a bill that creates a Children’s Savings Account program, which would automatically open a savings account for every child born or adopted in Illinois; and
  • A series of bills addressing maternal and infant morbidity and mortality and the racial disparities in these rates.

The bills passed by both chambers will now head to the governor’s desk for his consideration, and we will update you when action is taken.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund applauds the Illinois General Assembly, its leaders, and the governor for working together to develop a fully-funded budget and a long-overdue capital plan that invests in critical supports for Illinois’ youngest children and their families.

Please join us in thanking them for their support of early childhood this session by tweeting at your legislators.