Message to Illinois Governor and legislators: Prioritize children and families in coming state budget
Law enforcement, business, and retired military leaders say COVID exacerbates need for critical investments
Nearly 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 budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. Officials soon will begin crafting this spending plan.
The signatories are members of three partner 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 support research-based strategies that will help our next generation lead safe, healthy, and successful lives.
With smart investments for proven programs… many more of our kids can benefit from the soaring trajectory we all desire for them.
FROM THE FIGHT CRIME: INVEST IN KIDS ILLINOIS LETTER
The law-enforcement leaders of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids point to evidence that such strategies boost the academic performance of young people and help reduce crime and violence in our communities. The business leaders of ReadyNation add that proven programs for children and families are essential for the economic health of our state. And the retired military leaders who make up Mission: Readiness note that early childhood programs can even enhance national security, by improving the ability of young people to succeed in the military, or in whatever career they choose.
Numerous studies show high-quality early learning programs that reach children from birth to age 5 can dramatically boost graduation rates, reduce childhood obesity, deter kids from crime, and lessen the likelihood they are held back in school.
FROM THE MISSION: READINESS ILLINOIS LETTER
All three organizations endorse increased Fiscal Year 2022 funding for high-quality preschool and birth-to-3 programs; increases for home-visiting programs that provide voluntary “coaching” help for new parents in need; and maintaining funding for the Child Care Assistance Program, to provide reliable care for the children of working parents. Details and additional requests — including for K-12 and college-aged youth — can be found in the letters linked to below.
All three letters reference the devastating burdens that the coronavirus pandemic has placed on families, providers, and educators. While the crisis also has created challenges for state policymakers assembling the FY22 budget, the leaders of these three organizations agree that prioritizing the needs of children and families will enhance the long-term well-being of our state and ultimately save many costs. With this in mind, the letters also express support for big-picture efforts at systems improvement, such as the Illinois Early Childhood Funding Commission and the state’s PN3 (prenatal to 3) plans.
If the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic fallout has taught us anything, it’s this: Child care, early learning, and birth-to-3 services form an essential business sector that truly supports all others, a workforce behind the workforce.
FROM THE READYNATION ILLINOIS LETTER