Start Early thanks Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Commission on Equitable Funding for Early Childhood Education and Care for releasing its comprehensive report on the future of our state’s early care and education system. The report, developed over the last 15 months, lays out an ambitious plan for how to make Illinois’ early care and education system the best in the nation. We at Start Early, in partnership with the Early Childhood Funding Coalition, urge policymakers to implement the report’s recommendations with expediency.
“The experiences children have during their first five years shape their brains in a profound and significant way, setting them up for lifelong success,” said Ireta Gasner, vice president of Illinois Policy at Start Early. “The Commission’s report lays out a bold vision of a fully funded early learning system that supports communities, families and caregivers, and educators and providers so that all children in Illinois can reach their full potential.”
The report released today envisions improved delivery of early childhood program funding and more effective program governance, including the creation of a single state agency responsible for the early childhood system. It calls for changes that are critical components of our Illinois Policy Agenda and the Illinois Prenatal to Three (PN3) Coalition’s Policy Agenda, including calling for greater support of the state’s early childhood workforce — as well as improvements and investments in all programs — so that providers have what they need to support infants and toddlers, young children with disabilities or developmental delays, and English Learners.
As is the case in many other states, the Illinois early childhood system is complex, with several agencies administering a myriad of funding streams to different types of public and private providers. Even with the state’s longstanding and significant commitment to these services, our current efforts fall short of providing the investments necessary to best support and care for our young children and their families.
Start Early was honored to have representation on the Commission, whose work reimagines a better future for families and early childhood providers alike. We are committed to helping see this work through, for the good of young children, families and communities throughout Illinois.