On November 15, Mayor Brandon Johnson passed his first budget for the City of Chicago, naming it the “People’s Budget.” In many ways, this budget marks a huge success for the Mayor and represents many of his campaign promises to invest in people and support structures that have seen historical neglect. For example, the final budget contains resources and funding for public safety, including re-entry services for formerly incarcerated people, mental health and infrastructure, and one of the most topical investments was a $30 million allocation from state grants to the Department of Family Support Services (DFSS) to support newly arrived migrant families. Despite these investments, there are no direct increases to early childhood education.
Like past years, this budget season was filled with challenges, and most pressing was the fact that it is one of the last that will include support from the American Rescue Plan Act’s temporary investments. These COVID-era funds support a variety of city programs including vital prenatal-five services. As we approach this fiscal cliff, City-funded early childhood initiatives remain level-funded despite recommendations from 15 key early childhood stakeholders advocating for additional investments. The Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship, the Chicago Early Childhood Integrated Data System (CECIDS), Family Connects Chicago and the Chicago Early Learning hotline did not receive an increase in funding heading into next year.