The Ounce releases statement on Gov. Pritzker's budget address

On February 20, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker presented his Fiscal Year 2020 proposed budget for the state. Among the many items included, the governor has prioritized our youngest learners by recommending significant funding for much needed programming that will benefit infants, toddlers and their families, a move we believe is a step in the right direction.

For the Ounce’s complete point of view on the governor’s proposed investments in children and families, please read below:

The Ounce of Prevention Fund (“The Ounce”) appreciates and commends the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) budget proposal presented today by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. The budget outline prioritizes young children, with significant funding for early learning programs that serve infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families.

“Our earliest learners who are facing the most significant challenges stand to benefit greatly from comprehensive and consistent early learning experiences,” Ireta Gasner, Ounce of Prevention Fund vice president of Illinois policy, said. “Under the leadership of Governor Pritzker and his new administration, the state has an opportunity to deepen its commitment to supporting the healthy development of our youngest children, beginning prenatally.”

Today’s FY20 budget proposal from the governor’s office included the following investments in children and families:

  • $100 million increase to the Early Childhood Block Grant, a historically high increase for preschool and services to infants and toddlers and their families;
  • $30 million increase for the Child Care Assistance Program to increase income-eligibility for low-income working families who make less than 200% below Federal Poverty Level;
  • $7 million increase to the Early Intervention (EI) program for infants and toddlers with developmental delays to meet the increased need for services to eligible children;
  • Level-funding of home visiting programs for expecting and new families funded by the Department of Human Services

We agree with Governor Pritzker that “a focus on the learning that happens from birth to age 5 can determine the entire arc of a person’s life,” and “investing in early childhood is the single most important education policy decision government can make.”

We also look forward to working with the General Assembly and the governor to provide additional investments in Early Intervention, in order to provide a long-overdue rate increase to the therapists who work with these children and their families, and to DHS-funded home visiting programs which have been nearly level-funded for well over a decade and suffered greatly during the budget impasse. We believe today’s budget proposal is a step in the right direction.

Illinois must strengthen its efforts to ensure that, beginning prenatally, we are providing all children with the opportunity to receive early learning services. We agree with the governor that our highest priority as a state should be guaranteeing that children experience the kind of quality services that make the biggest differences in their lives.

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