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

On February 19, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker presented his Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal for the state. See below for the Ounce’s complete point of view on the governor’s proposed investments in children and families.

The Ounce of Prevention Fund (the Ounce) welcomes the early care and education investments laid out in the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021) budget proposal presented today by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. The state budget prioritizes young children with increased funding for early learning programs that serve infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families.

“Today’s budget proposal moves us closer to Governor Pritzker’s vision of Illinois becoming the best state in the country to raise young children,” said Ireta Gasner, Ounce vice president of Illinois policy. “We are pleased to see continued investments in early care and education programs, which underscore that investing in early childhood is the single most important policy decision government can make.”

Today’s FY 2021 budget proposal from the governor’s office included the following investments in children and families:

  • $50 million increase to the Early Childhood Block Grant for preschool services, as well as home visiting and center-based services for infants and toddlers and their families
  • $2 million increase for evidence-based home visiting programs for expecting and new families funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services, as part of an $4.25 million overall home visiting increase
  • $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
  • $100 million increase to the Child Care Assistance Program to increase provider reimbursement rates and reduce parent copayments

Today’s investments are an important step to strengthen early childhood programs in Illinois, but additional revenue and more funding for early childhood is needed. The state must redouble its efforts to ensure that we are not only providing more children with the opportunity to receive early care and education services, but that our highest-priority children receive, beginning prenatally, quality services that make the biggest difference for them.

“We look forward to working with the governor and Illinois General Assembly to appropriate increased funding for the state’s core early care and education programs, investments we hope will be focused on supporting our youngest learners, their families and the early childhood workforce,” Gasner continued.

In addition to the critical investments announced today, the Ounce seeks to partner with the legislature and the administration to expand the state’s Medicaid program to include coverage for doula services and evidence-based home visiting services. We believe leveraging federal dollars can maximize our state’s ability to serve more families and is a key strategy to addressing the maternal mortality crisis in our state. We encourage Illinois to join the 24 other states that currently finance home visiting through Medicaid.

During the State of the State address earlier this month, Governor Pritzker highlighted his newly formed Commission on Equitable Funding for Early Childhood Education and Care. The Ounce welcomed the creation of this Commission and believes it holds the potential to imagine and then help Illinois implement new and innovative strategies to grow and strengthen the education, health and well-being of children through the state’s early care and education system.

Illinois must strengthen its efforts to ensure that we are providing all children, beginning prenatally, with the opportunity to receive early care and education 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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