May 30, 2024

Raising Illinois’ Response to Governor JB Pritzker’s Proposed FY 2025 Budget

Our state's prenatal-to-three coalition celebrates another transformational year for expecting families, infants and toddlers - but critical services remain underfunded

Raising Illinois commends the Illinois General Assembly and Governor JB Pritzker for continuing to invest in our state’s littlest learners and their families in its spending plan for Fiscal Year 2025 (FY 2025), approved earlier this week.

The final budget includes nearly $250 million in new state funding to establish the new Illinois Department of Early Childhood and expand existing child care, preschool, home visiting and other services. The budget also advances other key components of our Illinois PN3 Policy Agenda, including a diaper distribution pilot program and a permanent state Child Tax Credit for eligible families.

While we recognize the constraints that our legislators and the governor face in developing a balanced budget, notably absent are adequate investments to Early Intervention (EI) and the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE), which Raising Illinois advocated for diligently this year.

For EI, which provides life-changing services to infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities, funding beyond what was approved is necessary to address the ongoing workforce crisis and the growing needs of families with young children.

Similarly, additional funding for ECACE, which will strengthen our educator pipeline, would have provided opportunities for thousands more educators to join the workforce at a time when many providers are leaving the field and are facing financial barriers to achieving credentials and advanced degrees. 

“Raising Illinois thanks the General Assembly for demonstrating their commitment to Illinois families in its FY 2025 state budget,” Raising Illinois Director Simone Santiago shares. “As appreciative as we are for these crucial investments, we’re disappointed to see funding for Early Intervention and ECACE well below the amounts families and providers advocated for this spring. We know this was a difficult year in navigating the state budget process, so we celebrate these transformational investments, but we must continue to do more to ensure that Illinois is the best state in the nation to raise a child.

The FY 2025 budget contains the following expenditures, organized by our coalition’s priorities:

Healthy Parents & Babies

  • $155 million for safety-net hospitals to improve outcomes in the most under-resourced communities
  • $5 million (21.8% increase) for evidence-based home visiting programs at Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to continue stabilizing the workforce and increasing access for families
  • $4 million for the Illinois Department of Public Health to develop a reproductive health action plan, with an emphasis on community-based and full-spectrum peripartum care

High Quality Early Learning

  • $122 million for the Smart Start Workforce Compensation Grants, Quality Support Contracts and the Early Childhood Apprentice Program, replacing expiring federal funds, to increase staff wages and other workforce supports
  • $75 million (11.1% increase)  for preschool services and prenatal-to-age 3 programs administered under the Early Childhood Block Grant to create serve more children, strengthen existing program quality and support and expand the workforce
  • $36.5 million increase (6.3% increase) for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to accommodate growing subsidy caseloads
  • $6 million (3.8% increase) for Early Intervention to accommodate growing caseloads. Note that approved funding appropriation falls far below what the EI system needs to address the workforce crisis.

Financially Secure Families

  • Establishes a permanent state Child Tax Credit for families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and have children under age 12 
  • $10 million to establish a Medical Debt Relief Program to erase medical debt for eligible low-income Illinoisans
  • $1 million for a pilot diaper distribution program

Strong Infrastructure

  • $14.2 million to establish the Illinois Department of Early Childhood, a new unified agency authorized by Senate Bill 1
  • $5 million for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity, replacing expiring federal funds. Note that approved funding appropriation falls far below what this initiative needs to sustain the program and support existing scholars.
  • $2 million for mental health training for the frontline pediatric workforce

As appreciative as we are for these crucial investments, we’re disappointed to see funding for Early Intervention and ECACE well below the amounts families and providers advocated for this spring. We know this was a difficult year in navigating the state budget process, so we celebrate these transformational investments, but we must continue to do more to ensure that Illinois is the best state in the nation to raise a child.

Simone Santiago

Director, Raising Illinois

“I appreciate the comprehensive early childhood investments approved this week, particularly those in birth equity and mental health, which will definitely support Illinois families greatly. However, I don’t think there was nearly enough prioritization of funding for Early Intervention. As a new parent, I am discouraged to know that the current levels of EI funding will not be able to address the EI workforce crisis or solve for the long wait lists families experience. While important steps were made, we must not stop here. We need sustained and sufficient investments in children from birth and through their earliest, most foundational years.“

Chanelle Brown

Raising Illinois Family Leader

“I appreciate the comprehensive early childhood investments approved this week, particularly those in birth equity and mental health, which will definitely support Illinois families greatly,” Raising Illinois Family Leader Chanelle Brown shares. “However, I don’t think there was nearly enough prioritization of funding for Early Intervention. As a new parent, I am discouraged to know that the current levels of EI funding will not be able to address the EI workforce crisis or solve for the long wait lists families experience. While important steps were made, we must not stop here. We need sustained and sufficient investments in children from birth and through their earliest, most foundational years.“

Despite another challenging year for leaders navigating diverse needs across the state, Raising Illinois thanks Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly for their ongoing commitment to building a more equitable, affordable and high-quality system of health services, learning experiences and economic supports for our state’s expecting families, infants and toddlers. We also recognize and applaud the contributions of the more than 1,600 parents, caregivers, educators, providers, legislators and other stakeholders across the state who represent Raising Illinois.

Our collective effort continues in FY 2025 and beyond. Join Raising Illinois to help ensure every expecting family, infant and toddler in our state has what they need to thrive.

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