Our Response to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Proposed Budget
Raising Illinois is happy to see investments directed towards Illinois’ expecting families, infants and toddlers in the Governor’s latest budget proposal but more is needed.
Earlier this month, Governor J.B. Pritzker introduced his administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 2023) budget, which includes an increase of 10% in state funding for preschool, evidence-based home visiting services and center-based infant-toddler programs funded by the Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). This investment is critical in ensuring that we can increase access to essential services and recruit and retain a highly qualified workforce to serve our youngest families.
Unfortunately, however, the proposal holds funding flat for other programs that are particularly important for expecting families, infants, toddlers and their families:
- Early Intervention, where referrals and evaluations are on the rise and disparities exist in access to services
- Home visiting services funded within the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), which have proven to be a critical support for new parents
- Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which helps families access low- or no-cost child care
Although we applaud the modest increase to ECBG, the current funding levels for these other critical programs are insufficient to properly address the disparities and barriers to access that exist for families who could so desperately benefit from such programs and staff who are in need of adequate compensation and supports.
While the proposed budget does not include specific investments in mental health services for very young children, the governor announced it is naming a Chief Behavioral Health Officer to help streamline and coordinate mental health services across state agencies. Coupled with funding dedicated to rate increases for behavioral and mental health providers, and expanded Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health consultants through federal COVID-19 funding, we hope that, ultimately, families will have increased access to mental health services.
Governor Pritzker also announced $1 billion in tax relief for FY 2023 by freezing grocery and gasoline taxes, as well as a property tax rebate for homeowners. However, to be more economically secure, Illinois families with infants and toddlers also need a streamlined and more accessible application process for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
“As a mother of a newborn, I am seeing firsthand how critical early childhood programming is right now,” Raising Illinois Director Simone Santiago shared. “While the proposed increase in the education funding portion of the early childhood system is positive, we need meaningful investment in programs such as Early Intervention, doula and home visiting, which are lifelines for expecting and parenting families so isolated and stretched during these challenging times."
A more holistic approach to funding early childhood is needed to ensure the state can address the many disparities currently experienced by expecting families and those with young children based on factors like race, income and geography.
Raising Illinois’ contributing and champion members are eager to partner with the legislature and the administration to finalize and approve a budget that prioritizes the state’s infants, toddlers, families and those who care for them.