Illinois Action for Children Responds to Pritzker’s Proposed Fiscal Year 2025 Budget

May 20, 2024
Abraham Lincoln statue in front of the Illinois State Capital Building in Springfield, Illinois

Chicago, IL – On Wednesday, February 21, Governor Pritzker began his State of the State by addressing the importance of early childhood and highlighting the creation of the new Department of Early Childhood and stated: “With a $13 million investment, parents and providers will have a one-stop shop for resources and programs—from finding child care and preschool to accessing Early Childhood Block Grants and daycare licensing.”

The creation of the Department of Early Childhood is a historic moment for the early care and education field in Illinois, and Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) commends the Pritzker administration for continuing to make early childhood a top priority for our state. Rooted in the recommendations from Governor Pritzker’s Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding (“Early Childhood Funding Commission”) the new early childhood agency will create a more equitable, integrated, and holistic system of service for providers, families, and most importantly young children in Illinois.

“As long-time early childhood champions, we are thrilled with the Governor’s commitment to create the Department of Early Childhood and will continue to partner with his administration to reimagine our state’s early care and education system,” said April Janney, Illinois Action for Children CEO. “As advocates, we will work tirelessly to ensure that every family in Illinois has access to quality child care in their community.”

Legislation has been filed (SB3777 and HB5451) that will initiate a multi-year process for the state to build capacity, engage with parents and providers, and strategically plan the transition of early childhood programs and funding services. The Governor’s proposed budget includes an initial appropriation of $13 million to build infrastructure and staff the new department.

“We know that building the new state agency will take the collaboration of the entire early childhood community, and we’re excited to see funding and legislation supporting this,” said Angela Farwig, Illinois Action for Children Vice President of Public Policy, Advocacy, and Research. ”

In addition to the creation of the Department of Early Childhood, IAFC is encouraged by Governor Pritzker’s commitment to investing in year two of the Smart Start Illinois initiative and other child care needs in his FY25 budget proposal. Proposed FY25 investments include an additional:

  • $122 million for Smart Start Child Care, including workforce compensation and quality support grants that will help stabilize the field by raising child care educator wages and enhancing equity and quality in programs, as well as replace expiring federal funds.
  • $36.5 million for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to cover the increased demand for child care services.
  • $75 million for Illinois State Board of Education’s Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) which would add an additional 5,000 preschool slots.
  • $5 million to continue to expand Illinois Department Human Services Home Visiting programs.

Now is the time for Illinois to build on the progress that was made last year with the introduction of Smart Start Illinois and continue to prioritize Illinois’ youngest children and their families.

While IAFC fully supports the creation of the Department of Early Childhood and the continuous investment in Smart Start Illinois, we believe that the governor’s proposed FY25 budget falls short in a few key areas, with insufficient investment in vital programs that support the incumbent early childhood workforce and access to supports for young children. These include:

  • $5 million to support the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) initiative is far too little to cover members of the early childhood workforce currently enrolled in higher education programs through the ECACE scholarships and to expand the program to more incumbent workforce.
  • $6 million increase for the Early Intervention program will not cover the needed reimbursement rates for providers, address service coordination challenges, and improve employee benefits.

IAFC looks forward to continuing our partnership and working with both Governor Pritzker’s Administration and the General Assembly during the next few years to build the best state to raise young children.


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