103RD GENERAL ASSEMBLY PASSES SMART START ILLINOIS IN FY 2024 BUDGET
Today, the Illinois General Assembly passed the FY24 state budget (SB250), which includes funding for Governor Pritzker’s Smart Start Illinois initiative. This is a multi-year plan that aims to transform the early childhood education and care field for the state of Illinois. With the funding appropriated by the General Assembly this fiscal year, Smart Start Illinois will create additional preschool slots, provide more stable funding for child care providers that will go towards increasing teacher salaries and maintaining high quality programs, and reach more vulnerable families with early support and resources.
Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) is enthusiastic about the additional funding that will go into early childhood education and care programs through the Smart Start Illinois Initiative and applauds Governor Pritzker’s vision and passion for supporting Illinois’ youngest children. Funding increases for early childhood programs in the FY24 budget total nearly $300 million and include the following vital investments:
$75 million (12.5% increase) to the Early Childhood Block Grant at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), which will be used to create 5,000 new preschool slots
$170 million (total increase of 41.4%) to the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) for nation leading Child Care Workforce Compensation Contracts that will provide wages increases and support stability for the child care sector, as well as funding to serve additional families through the Child Care Assistance Program and support upgrades to the Child Care Management System (CCMS).
$40 million for Early Intervention (34.5% increase) at IDHS
$5 million to expand home visiting programs (27.9% increase) at IDHS
In addition, the General Assembly appropriated $50 million for early childhood construction grants; however, through a last-minute provision these funds will only be made available to public school districts. IAFC believes these funds should be prioritized for community-based providers to support a mixed delivery early childhood system that is accessible to all families. The General Assembly also made a new $5 million appropriation to ISBE to support the inclusion of children ages 3-5 with developmental delays and disabilities in both school- and community-based early childhood settings.
“Today marks a win for Illinois families and teachers,” said April Janney, CEO of Illinois Action for Children. “I’m grateful the General Assembly has prioritized young children’s education and care. This
shows kids they truly matter and that we value those who care for and educate them as well. I am encouraged by this commitment and look forward to working with the legislature, the Pritzker administration, and our partners to ensure that all families in Illinois have access to high quality early care and education.”
Governor Pritzker’s bipartisan Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding (“Funding Commission”) report revealed that Illinois needs to reach a $12 billion annual public investment in its early care and education system if we want to adequately and equitably support families and young children.
The FY24 budget is a necessary and important step toward reaching this overall funding goal and making Illinois the best state in the nation for families with young children. IAFC thanks the General Assembly for passing a budget that moves us closer to achieving this vision and Governor Pritzker for his continuous effort to provide high-quality affordable child care for more families. With the launch of Smart Start Illinois and the passage of the FY24 Budget, Illinois has taken a significant step in making sure that all children have access to high-quality early childhood education and care programs across Illinois.
Illinois Action for Children is a state and national leader in early care and education. As a catalyst for strong families and powerful communities, IAFC ensures every child in Illinois obtains quality learning, nutrition, mental health, and all other vital resources. Through an expansive range of public policy, advocacy, research, early learning, parent and partner programs, IAFC creates the ideal conditions in which children thrive from birth and beyond.
Learn more at actforchildren.org.