May 9, 2024

Raising Illinois Celebrates Passage of Department of Early Childhood Legislation

Senate Bill 1 moves to the Governor's desk for signature this summer

Raising Illinois celebrates the passage today of Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), which establishes the Department of Early Childhood, a new state agency that will make early childhood education and care services more accessible and effective. We are confident that this change will improve the experiences of children, families and providers alike by reducing administrative complexity and barriers to access. Our gratitude goes to Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford and Representative Mary Beth Canty, who sponsored this legislation, and Governor JB Pritzker, who initiated the proposal and is expected to sign SB 1 into law in the weeks ahead. 

Starting in July 2026, the new Department will license and monitor child care providers, as well as administer the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), Early Intervention (EI), evidence-based home visiting services, and other state-funded preschool and infant-toddler early learning programs. These programs currently operate under multiple state agencies—the Department of Children and Family Services; Department of Human Services; and the State Board of Education. 

Although the new Department of Early Childhood will strengthen how tens of thousands of families in our state access prenatal-to-age-three services, Raising Illinois considers this transition to be a pivotal opportunity to deepen collaboration with critical programs that are not part of the consolidated agency. We urge the Governor and the General Assembly to prioritize ongoing alignment and coordination between the new Department and: 

  • The Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which administers Medicaid health care coverage to birthing people and children 
  • The Department of Public Health, which operates numerous maternal and child health initiatives 
  • The Department of Human Services, which implements the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and other economic supports for families  

We are excited to continue our partnership with the Pritzker administration and the new Department of Early Childhood to drive transformational change in Illinois on behalf of our youngest learners, Raising Illinois Director Simone Santiago said. “We look forward to working together to build a cohesive, accessible early childhood system of supports so that all of Illinois’ expecting families, infants and toddlers can thrive. 

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