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Start Early Releases Statement on Approved Illinois State Budget

Our Illinois Policy Team provides its point of view on the Illinois General Assembly’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget package for the state.

May 26, 2020
  • Policy and Systems
  • Blog

In May 2020, the Illinois General Assembly approved the state’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget plan, and on June 10, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the budget into law. See below for Start Early’s (formerly known as the Ounce) complete point of view on the state’s approved investments in children and families.

MAY 26, 2020

Over the weekend, the Illinois General Assembly approved the state’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget plan, which we anticipate Gov. J.B. Pritzker will sign into law. We applaud the legislature for passing a budget amid a global pandemic that sustains state funding for early childhood programs and provides the administration the authority to spend significant federal resources on the early care and education system.

The budget package includes:

  • $7 million increase to the Early Intervention program at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to accommodate the state’s growing caseload
    Level-funding for the Child Care Assistance Program at IDHS
  • The legislature increased the federal appropriation for the child care program by $138 million to allow for the spending of federal CCDBG and CARES Act funding in the current and upcoming fiscal year.
  • Level-funding for evidence-based home visiting programs for expectant and new parents through Healthy Families and Parents Too Soon at IDHS
    Level-funding for the Early Childhood Block Grant at the Illinois State Board of Education

In addition, the legislature appropriated more than $500 million in federal CARES Act funding to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Grant Program (or BIG Program) to reimburse costs or losses incurred due to business interruption caused by required COVID-19-related closures. $260 million of that funding is to be directed toward a program for child care providers. These grants will help protect the health of the state’s early childhood mixed-delivery system.

Unfortunately, it will be challenging to implement this budget plan fully because of COVID-19’s impact on the state’s economy. The administration’s decision on how to proceed will depend on future federal relief packages and the state’s economic recovery. We will share more information as it becomes available.

But states cannot weather this storm alone, which is why we call on Congress to direct additional federal early childhood resources – through trusted programs like the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) or the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) – to states like Illinois to protect the system we’ve spent years to build.

We thank the legislature for affirming the state’s commitment to the health and sustainability of the early care and education system despite our ongoing fiscal challenges. The recent crisis has exacerbated the needs of families, certainly among those already lacking equitable services and opportunity. It has also brought into sharp relief the essential nature of the work performed by professionals throughout the early childhood system – workers whose efforts are central to the well-being of children, families and communities.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic we’d hoped to see more state funding included in the FY 2021 budget for these core early care and education programs. However, given the dramatic changes of the past two months, the budget package approved by the legislature does provide much-needed stability to the state’s early childhood system.