FY24 Funding for Early Childhood
Raising Illinois Advocates For A 20% Increase In State Funding For Early Childhood Programs
Raising Illinois believes that expecting families, infants, and toddlers in our state deserve more affordable and equitable high-quality learning experiences, health services and economic supports. Moreover, the infant- and toddler-serving workforce deserves adequate compensation and resources. Members of our Coalition are hard at work fighting for our Fiscal Year 2023 policy priorities—and, at the same time, looking ahead to increase Illinois’ prenatal-to-age-3 (PN3) investments in Fiscal Year 2024. Along with other advocates, Raising Illinois is calling for, at minimum, a 20% across-the-board increase in state funding for early childhood programs. What that means for our littlest learners:
Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) = + $119.6 million increase
Illinois is a national leader for leveraging the ECBG, administered by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), to invest in PN3 supports such as infant and toddler child care, doula services, and infant mental health services. Yet these programs still serve too few eligible children and families, and under-compensate providers compared to their counterparts who work with preschool-age children. Because 25% of all new ECBG funding is statutorily set aside for ISBE’s Prevention Initiative (birth-to-three center- and home-based services), expanding ECBG is a critical win for our state’s babies and the workforce who care for them.
Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) = + $82.1 million increase
In Fiscal Year 2021, CCAP provided just over 25,400 infants and toddlers with affordable child care—nearly 30% fewer children than in previous years. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 1 in 4 infants and toddlers had acces to any child care. After two consecutive years of essentially level funding, CCAP has been held afloat by federal relief dollars that are set to expire by 2025. Increasing funding for CCAP will improve infant and toddler child care provider reimbursement rates, provide additional staffing capacity, expand agency contracting opportunities, and ensure more families are eligible.
Early Intervention (EI) Program = + $23.3 million increase
Although an estimated 13% of all infants and toddlers qualify for EI services, only 5% of infants and toddlers in Illinois currently access them, with even greater disparities by age, race, ethnicity, and geographic region. Despite significant legislative reforms passed over the last few years, workforce shortages continue to lead to service delays for families and burdensome caseloads for providers. Additional EI dollars will go toward increased compensation for therapists and service coordinators, as well as service delivery modifications to help families who face the greatest disparities access these supports.
Home Visiting (HV) Programs = + $3.6 million increase
Because funding for home visiting programs offered through the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) has remained largely flat for two decades, only about 15% of eligible infants and toddlers in Illinois have historically received these services. Last year, just 12% of eligible children were served due to the pandemic. This modest funding increase will boost home visitor compensation and expand access to prenatal visits.