Gov. Pritzker calls on Illinois to become best state for families raising young children

State News
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Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his first budget address on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 to a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate at the Illinois State Capitol building in Springfield. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)

CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker gathered with leading early childhood experts and announced greater state investment in child care programs across Illinois beginning Jan. 1 on Monday.

Additionally, Pritzker annonced the creation of a new 29-member commission of experts to chart a new course for early childhood funding. This comes after the governor made a large investment into early childhood programs and facilities this past year.

“I’ve asked you to join me today as we set an audacious goal: Illinois will become the best state in the nation for families raising young children, with the nation’s best early childhood education and child care,” said Pritzker. “My promise is this: our work won’t be complete until every child in this state enters kindergarten with the cognitive skills to think, learn, read, remember, pay attention, and solve problems, but also the social-emotional skills to communicate, connect with others, resolve conflict, self-regulate, display kindness and cope with challenges.”

“These are the skills that high-quality early learning programs help young children develop, and I’m proud to say that many of the modern standards and model programs were conceived and developed right here in Illinois,” the governor continued.

Child care reimbursement rates for all centers and home-based providers statewide will increase by 5 percent, which Prtizker said will improve access to stable care for low-income families and increase wages of early childhood providers. 

In an effort to help deal with the ongoing staffing crisis in rural Illinois, the state is increasing the base rates for centers by 15 percent. Also, in order to provide early childhood workforce access to training and education opportunities to improve their teaching skills and to improve outcomes for children, the state is increasing our investment in training by $3 million. 

As mentioned, Pritzker created the Commission to improve access to quality early childhood programs for all Illinois families. Tasked with taking a fresh look at the state’s entire ECEC system, the group met for the first time Monday, and its work will center around establishing funding goals and funding mechanisms to provide equitable access to high-quality early childhood education and care services for all children birth to age five.

The Commission is expected to deliver its final recommendations to the governor by January 2021.

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