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.
    • HB1 (Flowers; Collins) – Infant & Maternal Mortality – Creates a task force on Infant and Maternal Mortality among African Americans.
    • HB2 (Flowers; Collins) – Pregnancy & Childbirth Rights – Establishes rights of women related to pregnancy and child birth.
    • HB3 (Flowers; Collins) – Hospital Report Card Act – Hospital Report Card Act: Amends hospital report card and required reporting information.
    • HB5 (Flowers; Collins) – Maternal Care: Hospitals-Blood Pressure – Deals with access to mental health/substance use services for pregnant and postpartum women.
    • HB2433 (Flowers; Belt) – Hospitals-Blood Pressure – Requires hospitals to ensure that it has the proper instruments available for taking women’s blood pressure.
    • HB2438 (Flowers; Collins) – Maternal Mental Health – Amends the Illinois Insurance code concerning mental and emotional disorders to include any mental health condition that occurs during pregnancy or during the postpartum period, including postpartum depression.
    • HB2895 (Flowers; Sims) – Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)-Hemorrhage Training – Requires the Department of Public Health to ensure that all birthing facilities conduct yearly continuing education for providers and staff of obstetric medicine and of the emergency room department and other staff that may care for pregnant or postpartum women. Management of severe maternal hypertension and obstetric hemorrhage must be included in the yearly educational modules. Among other changes, the bill requires birthing facilities to demonstrate compliance with the education requirements.
    • HB3511 (Flowers; Belt) – IDPH-Maternal Mental Health – Creates the Maternal Mental Health Conditions Education, Early Diagnosis, and Treatment Act. The Department of Human Services would be required to develop educational materials for health care professionals and patients about maternal mental health conditions, and spells out which healthcare facilities must disseminate the materials.
  • Infants and toddlers found to have lead exposure are now automatically eligible to receive Early Intervention services. This eligibility expansion is detailed in the budget implementation bill, Public Act 101-10.
  • Early Intervention received a $12 million increase to accommodate the growing caseload and to increase provider reimbursement rates for the first time in 11 years. The increase can be found in Public Act 101-07.

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.