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Action Center

Our coalition is made up of advocates of all kinds: early childhood providers, policy professionals, legislators, parents and community members, and we know that advocacy is nothing without action. Here in our Action Center, you'll find a variety of different actions that you can take in support of Illinois' infants, toddlers and expecting families. If you have an action you'd like to see here, send the information to communications@raisingillinois.org. Actions will be updated regularly, so check this space often and make sure you're following us on Twitter @RaisingIllinois for the latest updates!

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New Brief: Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families through Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Services

Migration Policy Institute

Infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) services can play an important part in supporting young children’s well-being and development. For young children in immigrant and refugee families, who make up about one-fourth of all U.S. children ages 0–5, IECMH support can be particularly impactful. These services can, for example, help mitigate the effects of trauma and stressors related to migration and acculturation experiences.

Yet while there is a clear need for policies, strategies, and program approaches that recognize and respond effectively to the diverse needs of immigrant and refugee families with young children, these families too often do not benefit from IECMH support.

This brief highlights the importance of IECMH services for immigrant and refugee families as well as gaps in IECMH promotion, prevention, screening, and treatment that affect these families. The brief also identifies opportunities for policymakers and practitioners to improve access to IECMH services for this population.

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Expand Access to Birthing and Birthing Support Workers

EverThrive Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly already requires Medicaid to provide coverage for care provided by doulas, home visitors, lactation consultants, and certified professional midwives. Birthing and birthing support workers, especially doulas, improve care and support for pregnant people and reduce disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality for Black pregnant people. This expansion of Illinois’ Medicaid program cemented Illinois as a leader for reproductive health care on the national stage.

In Illinois, private insurance companies are not required to cover access to the same birthing and birthing support workforce. This creates a gap in access to critical reproductive health care for pregnant and birthing people with private insurance. This gap may disproportionately affect Black pregnant people who already experience higher maternal morbidity and mortality rates at all income and insurance levels.  

HB 5142 / SB 3665 requires private insurers in Illinois to expand access to pregnancy, postpartum, and newborn care provided by the birthing and birthing support workforce, including: doulas; lactation consultants and breast pumps and supplies; licensed certified professional midwives, and home births and necessary equipment.

Timeline: Ongoing

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Expand Access to Reproductive Health Care in Illinois

EverThrive Illinois

Illinois lawmakers have the opportunity to ensure that everyone in Illinois—regardless of immigration status—has access to reproductive health care. 

In 2022, the State launched the HFS Family Planning Program, which provides coverage for a wide range of preventive health care services like all birth control methods, cancer screenings (i.e. pap and mammogram), testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and HIV prevention. This is an essential safety net for people to get family planning and family planning preventive services that may not have access otherwise. Unfortunately, undocumented people and other immigrants who do not meet Medicaid eligibility requirements have extremely limited access to the HFS Family Planning Program.

HB4149 will require the State to extend permanent access to the HFS Family Planning Program to noncitizens that meet eligibility requirements.  This is estimated to provide access to family planning care for over 62,000 people and save the state millions of dollars per year. Email your legislator today and ask them to support HB4149!

Timeline: Ongoing

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Webinar: Connecting Immigrant Communities to Infant & Early Childhood Services

Migration Policy Institute

Young children in immigrant and refugee families can encounter mental-health risks related to their migration and integration experiences, ranging from discrimination and economic stress to persecution and violence in the case of young refugees. Infant and early childhood mental-health (IECMH) services have the potential to provide beneficial supports and treatment during the foundational early years for these young immigrants, promoting their healthy development and future well-being. However, many immigrant families, who are less likely overall to participate in early childhood services, face unique barriers to accessing IECMH supports across the spectrum of promotion, prevention, screening, and treatment.   

In this webinar, speakers will discuss the importance of IECMH and highlight approaches that have successfully connected immigrant and refugee families with beneficial and culturally relevant services. Featuring recommendations from a MPI policy brief being released that day, the discussion will explore opportunities to expand the accessibility and responsiveness of IECMH services to immigrant communities.

Timeline: April 5 12:00 p.m. CT

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Take Action for Early Intervention

Raising Illinois

Illinois' Early Intervention (EI) program provides critical services to children under age 3 who have or are at risk for significant developmental delays and disabilities. This February, Governor JB Pritzker’s budget proposal included only $6 million in increased funds in FY25 for EI. However, this is not nearly enough to ensure equitable access to the life-changing developmental services and supports that EI provides. Thousands of families are still waiting for the EI services to which they are legally entitled. Service delays are tied directly to the program’s ongoing workforce crisis. Despite the long-overdue funding increase this fiscal year, EI providers continue to leave the program because the math doesn’t add up. Last year’s Smart Start investment in EI was only the first step.

Join Raising Illinois in calling for the General Assembly to approve a $40 million increase for Early Intervention in the final FY25 state budget. 

Timeline: Now- May 24, 2024

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Ask Your Illinois Legislators to Address the Early Intervention (EI) Crisis with $40M in New Funding for Fiscal Year 2025

Start Early

This February, Governor JB Pritzker’s budget proposal included only $6 million in FY25 for the state’s Early Intervention (EI) program, whereas a $40 million appropriation is needed to help ensure equitable access to necessary developmental services and supports that are known to dramatically improve a child’s lifelong trajectory.  $40 million in funding for the Early Intervention program for Fiscal Year 2025 would allow IDHS to address growing service delays and the program’s pressing workforce crisis. Funding can be used immediately to increase compensation for credentialed providers and improve the referral and evaluation process for families. 

Contact your legislator(s) now and ask them to ask for and approve a total of $40M in additional funding for Early Intervention this spring to help ensure equitable access to necessary developmental services and supports that are known to dramatically improve a child’s lifelong trajectory.  

Timeline: Now - End of May, 2024

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End Therapy Waitlists for IL Babies - Increase funding for Early Intervention

IL EI Grassroots Alliance

Join us in telling Governor Pritzker and legislators to invest $40 million to support Early Intervention in FY25, and in asking the Department of Human Services to utilize part of these funds for a 15% rate increase for providers and service coordinators. Currently, EI is slated to receive an increase of $6 million, which will not be enough to increase pay rates. Let’s work together to support the infants and toddlers of Illinois!

Timeline: Ongoing

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New Report: Infant and Toddler Homelessness Across 50 States: 2021-2022

SchoolHouse Connection

This report is the most comprehensive analysis to date of homelessness among the nation's youngest children. It offers the first-ever state-by-state collection of data on infant and toddler homelessness and provides detailed recommendations for policymakers and communities alike.

The report also includes practical strategies for early childhood development programs that can be implemented immediately, and concludes with a call to action, offering targeted recommendations for state and federal policymakers to increase the identification of homeless families with infants and toddlers and to improve their access to critical early childhood development services and housing supports. 

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Coffee With Daniela

Shriver Center on Poverty Law

Daniela Velez-Clucas, Shriver Center Healthcare Justice/Immigration Attorney is hosting bi-weekly virtual gatherings where enrollment assisters and community members can bring their questions regarding immigrant eligibility for health coverage, enrollment in Medicaid/Medicaid-like programs like HBIA/HBIS and other questions at the intersection of immigration law and health care coverage.

Daniela Velez-Clucas, abogada de justicia de salud/inmigracion del Centro
Shriver, esta organizando reuniones virtuales quincenales donde las asistentes de
inscripcion y las miembros de la comunidad pueden hacer sus preguntas sobre elegibilidad de las inmigrantes para la cobertura de salud, inscripcion en Medicaid y programas similares a Medicaid, como HBIA/HBIS y otras preguntas en la interseccion de la ley de inmigracion y la cobertura de atencion medica.

Questions/Preguntas: danuelavelezclucas@povertylaw.org

Timeline: Every other Friday morning from 10-11 a.m. CT 

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Share Your Family & Medical Leave Story!

Women Employed / Time to Care Coalition

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn't provide paid leave to its workers, but we can change that in Illinois. We need to hear from real people across the state about paid leave. Did you welcome a new child and your workplace offered no paid leave? Did you cobble together vacation and sick time? Make your voice and your story heard as we fight for paid leave in Illinois! Learn more about the Time to Care Coalition.

Timeline: Ongoing

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New Resources for Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants

Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development

The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development is excited to share new resources that provide key information for Consultation in infant and early childhood education and care programs. Whether you're a leader or administrator of home visiting, preschool and center-based programs, the parent or family member of children in need of services, or someone looking to begin a fulfilling new career, these resources are for you!

Timeline: Ongoing

Disclaimer: The foregoing is publicly available information about upcoming events, resources, and reminders from third-party organizations. In some cases, Raising Illinois & Start Early have included links to other websites that are not owned or controlled in any way by Raising Illinois or Start Early, but that contain additional information about the events, resources or reminders. By clicking on any of the links above, you agree to be directed to the external website and you acknowledge and agree that Raising Illinois & Start Early shall not be held responsible or accountable for any information contained on such site. Please note that Raising Illinois & Start Early do not monitor any of the websites linked herein and do not endorse or approve any information posted on any such sites.