Raising Illinois' Statement on the Inflation Reduction Act
A Disappointing Lack of Investment in our Youngest Children
Last week, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, a landmark piece of legislation which ushers in much needed climate action but unfortunately does not allocate any funding for early learning and care programs. While we applaud the investments toward fighting climate change as a necessary step for helping our youngest children flourish in the future, this outcome leaves infants, toddlers and expecting families in Illinois with limited access to critical programs today.
Although the United States House of Representatives included nearly $400 billion for child care and pre-K when it passed budget reconciliation legislation this spring, the Senate failed to preserve any of this monumental funding for early care and learning in the final spending package.
This forgone investment would have considerably lowered the cost of infant and toddler care for families, allowed parents of young children to return to work and supported an underfunded and understaffed early learning and care workforce. In Illinois, licensed child care slots exist for only 1 in 4 infants and toddlers, with access rates in some communities dropping to less than 10%.
"Now more than ever, there are multiple adults working in a home. So the lack of funding for child care is constantly forcing a choice upon parents: to work or to have childcare” says Sharniaka Ambrose, a Cross Systems Family Leader from Chicago Heights. “Without affordable childcare how am I as a single mother supposed to work and advance myself? How am I supposed to go to school or strive to improve so as to not rely on public assistance if I don’t have access to childcare? How is this supposed to work?"
Long before today’s ongoing pandemic and societal uncertainty, infant and toddler care providers in Illinois, disproportionately women and women of color, have had to bear the burden of an under-resourced child care system to provide critical, quality programs and services to young children. In fact, because provider compensation is so low, nearly half of the child care workforce in Illinois relies on some form of public assistance to make ends meet.
Congress’ failure to prioritize American families and child care providers will result in long-range consequences for our child care system, not just in our state, but also nationwide.
Raising Illinois, a collective effort of more than 800 dedicated coalition members, including our public partners, will continue to be a champion for our youngest learners and their families. We will:
- Center family voice in all of our efforts through our Family Leader program, so that those most affected by current policies can drive change
- Educate and inform the field on provisions within the Inflation Reduction Act that may benefit families with young children
- Work with the Illinois Governor, General Assembly and state agencies to strengthen existing early learning and care programs and drive advancements that impact on-the-ground practices and communities
- Advocate for increased investments in and positive changes to Illinois early learning funding streams (Child Care Assistance Program, Early Childhood Block Grant and Early Childhood Construction Grants) and supports for expecting families, infants and toddlers (Home Visiting, Early Intervention) in addition to federal programs
“As a parent committed to preserving the planet for future generations, I appreciate that this legislation takes significant steps to invest in clean energy and pollution reduction. However, our youngest children have urgent needs now. This disappointing budget reconciliation misses an opportunity to invest in expecting families, infants and toddlers, and disregards the pressing needs of families and providers. Despite our disappointment, Raising Illinois is committed to continuing its work with state leaders and our coalition members to ensure that Illinois is the best state in the nation to raise a child.”
Simone Santiago, Director of Raising Illinois