Governor JB Pritzker Signs SB1 (The Department of Early Childhood Act) Into Law

June 25, 2024
An Illinois state flag waving in the four ground of the iconic Wrigley building.

Chicago, IL – Today, Governor JB Pritzker joined State Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, State Representative Mary Beth Canty, and members of the early childhood community at Eyes on the Future Child Development Center in Chicago for the historic signing of SB1 into law.  

This marks a milestone in the state’s commitment to early childhood education and care (ECEC). The act implements the new Department of Early Childhood, creating a unified agency to improve access to ECEC services across Illinois.  

Illinois has been a national leader in early childhood education and care policy, pioneering investments in child care for more than 30 years. It was one of the first states to establish a state-funded preschool program, served as a leader in home visiting services, and creating the first in the nation workforce grants to increase wages for early childhood educators through Illinois Smart Start Child Care.  

The signing of SB1 into law accomplishes one recommendation from the bipartisan Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding, which identified creating a single unified agency as a vital step toward an equitable early childhood system.  

The new Department reflects Illinois’ leadership and dedication to becoming the best state in the country for families to raise young children. 

“For 55 years, Illinois Action for Children has worked to create an early childhood education and care system that serves everyone—including those who are the furthest from resources,” said CEO April Janney. “As leaders in this movement, we celebrate the new Department of Early Childhood becoming law today. We will continue to advocate for a system that is more affordable, accessible, and equitable for all children and families in our state.” 

Illinois Action for Children expresses its gratitude to Governor JB Pritzker, State Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, and State Representative Mary Beth Canty for their unwavering support of early childhood education and care. We are eager to partner with the administration, state legislators, advocates, and community members to ensure the success of the new Department.  


Illinois Action for Children    

As a state and national leader in the early care and education field, Illinois Action for Children is distinguished by its “Strong Families, Powerful Communities” approach to child development, Pre-K and Head Start, and other family and community supports. Learn more at