eAdvocate Newsletter March 2024

March 17, 2024

This month, we are sharing updates on Governor Pritzker’s 2024 Budget Address, registration information for Early Childhood Advocacy Day 2024, and opportunities to advocate for Illinois’ youngest learners! With Illinois legislative session in full swing, this is the time to make your voice heard and help create a more equitale and accessible early childhood education and care system for all.

Illinois Action for Children’s Response to Governor Pritzker’s 2024 Budget Address

On Wednesday, February 21, 2024, Governor Pritzker unveiled his proposed Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) budget for Illinois, highlighting significant investments for children and families. IAFC is excited to see proposed investments to create the new Department of Early Childhood, continue the Smart Start Initiative to year two, and prioritize other child care needs in his FY25 budget proposal.


These are big wins for early childhood in the proposed FY25 budget. However, we need Illinois to fund the entire early childhood education and care system and ensure our incumbent workforce and early intervention programs are not left behind.


Read the full statement here.


Interested in joining our collective voice expressing the importance of fully funding early childhood programs to Illinois lawmakers? Register for Early Childhood Advocacy Day 2024 below!

Join Us and Register for Early Childhood Advocacy Day 2024

Calling all advocates! Join us in Springfield, Illinois on April 16, 2024 for Early Childhood Advocacy Day with our partners Child Care for All, COFI, Start Early, Latino Policy Forum, Raising Illinois, SEIU & We, The Village. On April 16, we will head to Springfield to call on the Illinois General Assembly to support the creation of the Department of Early Childhood and urge them to prioritize investments in young children & their families as they finalize the FY25 budget. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to advocate for children and families in Illinois! Can’t attend in person? Stay tuned for opportunities to participate virtually!


Register for Early Childhood Advocacy Day 2024


Learn more about Early Childhood Advocacy Day 2024

Take Action: Urge Your Legislator to Vote “YES” to the Department of Early Childhood Act

On February 9, Senator Kimberly Lightford and State Representative Mary Beth Canty introduced legislation to establish plans for the new early childhood agency. The Department of Early Childhood Act is a monumental step towards ensuring that Illinois’ parents and providers experience an ECEC system that is simple, coordinated, and equipped to support them and the children they care for. We need you to take action today and ask your legislator to vote YES on the Department of Early Childhood Act!

Stay Informed on the Transition to the New Department of Early Childhood

The state is hosting monthly Transition Advisory Committee (TAC) meetings and bi-monthly listening sessions. Members of the public can attend TAC meetings and provide feedback during the bi-monthly listening sessions.


Next TAC Meeting: March 12, 2024, 5:30-7:00 p.m.

Next Bi-Monthly Listening Session: March 15, 2024, 12:00-1:00 p.m.


Register for the TAC meetings and listening sessions


Can’t attend the meetings? Provide feedback on the transition by completing this survey.

Tell Us What Type Of Advocacy Efforts You’re Interested In!

This spring will be packed with opportunities to engage in advocacy, and we want to direct you to advocacy opportunities that are right for you! Please take a few minutes to complete the form below and tell us what types of advocacy efforts you are interested in. This will help us direct advocates and coalition members to advocacy efforts that align with their interests, expertise, and community. The form should take less than five minutes to complete.


Complete the Advocacy Interest Form

Smart Start Transition Grants


Round 4 opens on April 1, 2024. INCCRRA administers these grants in order to provide stable and predictable funding to support workforce development. This will be the last round of transition grants before the transition to Smart Start Child Care, a new workforce grant program that will have different eligibility from Strengthen and Grow and Smart Start Transition Grants. Details about eligibility and awards for the new grants will be available this spring.


Visit the Smart Start Transition Grants webpage for information on how to apply, tip sheets, and more. If you have questions, please email grants@inccrra.org.

Are You An Educator Interested In Developing Your Leadership Skills and Influencing Change?


Teach Plus Illinois is thrilled to announce four different fellowships for educators this fall:

Teach Plus Illinois’ programs are highly selective leadership opportunities for outstanding teachers looking to expand their influence without leaving the classroom. The programs span the 2024-25 school year and offer selected teachers a generous stipend. Applications are due between April 7 and May 1, depending on the program.


For more information on any of the four programs, please contact Kimberly Nguyen at knguyen@teachplus.org. or visit the Teach Plus Illinois website.

Federal Updates

Tell Congress to Stabilize Childcare Now!


On February 28, Congressional leaders passed a partial budget deal that would continue level funding for programs set to expire and extended the deadline to pass a full budget for the next year to March 22. The Departments of Interior, and Justice, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and a few other agencies, would keep their current March 8 deadlines.

We need to remind our members to protect and expand funding for child care and early learning programs. Without immediate action from Congress, states will lose critical funding to continue efforts to uplift the workforce, lower costs for families, and increase access to childcare. Act now!


Send a message to your elected officials to prioritize and invest in childcare, as they debate emergency funding and annual spending bills!

Expand the Federal Child Tax Credit


On January 31, the House passed a bipartisan tax credit bill, Tax Relief for American Families and Act of 2024, that will expand the valuable child tax credit for parents. This expansion will provide women, LGBTQIA+ people, and families with the support they need and deserve. The bill will head to the Senate for a vote, and we need you to make your voice heard and urge Illinois Senators to support the expansion of Child Tax Credit.


Send a message to your Senators and urge them to support the Tax Relief for American Families.


Learn more about the bill and find more ways to get involved.

eAdvocate is a monthly digital newsletter from Illinois Action for Children’s Public Policy and Advocacy Team (PPA). It includes the latest early childhood policy news and connects you to tools and resources to help effectively advocate for children and families. Our team includes: Assistant Director of Advocacy Neoma Nagahawatte; Senior Policy and Community Engagement Specialist Bri Stormer; Policy Associate Joselle Escobar; Director of Policy Michael Kim; and VP of Public Policy, Advocacy and Research Angela Farwig.