February 6, 2020

Message to Illinois leaders: Prioritize proven programs for children

Law enforcement, business and military officials detail FY21 state-budget hopes

More than 300 Illinois leaders have written to Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly, calling for a bold, far-reaching focus on early childhood care and education in the state’s upcoming budget.

The signatories are members of three sibling organizations in Illinois — Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, ReadyNation, and Mission: Readiness — which comprise, respectively, representatives of law enforcement, the business community, and retired military leaders. The organizations each represent different perspectives and goals, but concur that increased investments in proven programs for children can create a safer, healthier, and more prosperous Illinois.

Years of research and experience make clear the ways we can best aid skills development.

from the ReadyNation Illinois letter

Business leaders, for instance, point to the workforce stability that could be achieved through additional child care funding. Sheriffs, prosecutors, and police chiefs emphasize the crime prevention benefits of preschool. Meanwhile, retired generals and admirals assert that high-quality programs for children from birth to 5 can help help boost readiness for school and life and lead to a wider range of career options down the road, including military service.

We must prevent crime before it happens through proven strategies that reach children and youth.

from the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois letter

All three organizations are in accord on specific budget recommendations for Illinois:

  • Increasing the Early Childhood Block Grant to at least $694 million, to provide greater support for preschool and birth-to-3 programs.

  • Appropriating $20.9 million in the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget for the proven home-visiting programs Healthy Families Illinois and Parents Too Soon. Both services provide voluntary “parent-coaching” for new parents.

  • Increase general revenue funding for the DHS Child Care Assistance Program to at least $482 million to allow more working families to access affordable, reliable, high-quality care for kids while their parents are on the job or in job-training.

The decisions we make now will have a profound impact on the future of Illinois’ youth and our national security.

from the Mission: Readiness Illinois letter

The full state-budget recommendations of the groups — which operate under the parent non-profit organization, Council for a Strong America — are included in the three letters linked to below, and include several K-12 priorities, as well. The voices and vantage points of their members — representing law enforcement, business, and the military — are widely respected, and have had a far-reaching effect on public discourse and policy nationwide as well as here in Illinois. In concert, they promote a course of action that will benefit public safety, economic stability, and national security. The budget requests in these letters will support children during the most rapid period of brain growth, giving them a better chance at success in school and life.

Photo caption: Illinois State Representative and Assistant Majority Leader Elizabeth Hernandez holds a letter from the business leaders of ReadyNation.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Letter


  1. Illinois