April 2, 2021

Illinois commission recommends “simpler, better, fairer” support of early care and education

Law enforcement, business, and retired military leaders join push for a fully-funded and equitable system

Following 15 months of intensive study and discussion, the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding has published recommendations aimed at ensuring far greater and more equitable resources for preschool, child care and critical birth-to-3 services in our state. The suggestions also envision streamlining programs’ administration and delivery into the focus of a single state agency.

During the deliberations of the Commission, members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, ReadyNation, and Mission: Readiness — partner organizations of law enforcement, business, and retired military leaders, respectively — played an active role in supporting the mission of the bipartisan body, and making recommendations for a stronger and more streamlined system.

I am highly encouraged by the Commission’s roadmap to a more equitable and efficient system for delivering care and education to our state’s youngest children. When families are supported with quality programs during their kids’ first years, our communities prosper and are safer.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

U.S. Army Maj. General (Retired) Bill Enyart, St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson, and Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Pfeil — all pictured above, meeting with State Senator and Commission member Christopher Belt — were among those who met with commissioners and provided testimony at hearings and town halls. These community leaders based their support on extensive research that quality, proven programs for our youngest children help lead to healthy and successful adulthoods.

Some of that research is laid out in recent reports from the groups:

  • A ReadyNation report details the role of early childhood education in promoting racial equity, reducing learning gaps, and bolstering our workforce.

  • A Fight Crime: Invest in Kids report shows the role that home-visiting programs for new and expectant families can boost academic outcomes and reduce abuse and neglect.

  • A Mission: Readiness report on the role that early childhood education can play in reducing obesity, and thus enhancing the potential strength of our military.

The Commission’s report points the way to long-needed, more equitable improvements in support of early childhood programs — services that, in turn, help to support today’s workforce as well as develop a strong workforce for the future. This is vitally important to our business climate and economy, and we should put these recommendations to good use.

Lisa Savegnago, President, Nameplate & Panel Technology, Carol Stream

The three organizations joined forces with a coalition of early childhood providers, educators, parents, and advocates who issued a statement urging state policymakers and leaders to “heed the recommendations laid out in the report” and to take steps to implement them, over time.

The Commission’s report lays out an ambitious and necessary roadmap for the future. However, members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, ReadyNation, and Mission: Readiness also urge state policymakers to address the present insufficiency of quality early childhood education and care, by enacting an FY22 budget that meets the needs of children and families who have been thrown into further crisis by the pandemic. (Please see our earlier blog post for details on our budget priorities for the current Illinois legislative session.)

Mission: Readiness strongly supports the work of the Commission to address systemic, long-standing challenges. High-quality early childhood supports are crucial for helping kids enter kindergarten ready to learn and setting them on a path to success — toward whatever civilian career, college, or military experience they may ultimately choose.

Brigadier General (Ret.) Stephen Curda, U.S. Army, Chicago

The full, 62-page report can be found here.

States

  1. Illinois