Blog | February 16, 2022

Community Leaders Urge Illinois Lawmakers to Strengthen Investments in Early Care and Education Programs

Members of law enforcement, business, and retired military organizations call for a 10 percent increase in funding for FY23

Over 200 prominent Illinois leaders have called on Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to make ambitious investments in early childhood care and education programs in Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). These leaders communicated their priorities through three letters that stress the critical role that early childhood programs play in protecting our public safety, bolstering our economy, and strengthening national security.

The letter signatories belong to three organizations under the Council for a Strong America umbrella—Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, ReadyNation, and Mission: Readiness. These include, respectively, law enforcement leaders, business executives, and retired admirals and generals. These membership organizations share a commitment to supporting evidence-based programs that set kids up for successful and healthy lives; high-quality early childhood services are among their top priorities.

It’s clear that early childhood services form a foundation on which all other business sectors rely.

From the ReadyNation Illinois letter

Each of the organizations called for an across-the-board funding increase of at least 10 percent for key early childhood programs in FY23. This includes improving voluntary preschool and birth-to-3 opportunities by increasing the Early Childhood Block Grant in the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) budget, as recommended by both ISBE and Gov. Pritzker. The groups also call for strengthening home-visiting programs in the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) budget, and increasing state support for the IDHS Child Care Assistance Program. Signatories also noted the need to support long-term reform efforts and systemic-improvement recommendations from the bipartisan Early Childhood Funding Commission and the birth-to-3 goals put forth by the Illinois PN3 Initiative, which is now known as Raising Illinois.

To better-protect our national security, address the needs of our families, and improve the chance for youth to thrive in whatever career they choose, we must prioritize their physical, behavioral, and educational well-being from their earliest years.

From the Mission: Readiness Illinois letter

The members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, ReadyNation, and Mission: Readiness gratefully acknowledged that Illinois has received significant funding through federal COVID-19 relief measures, which have been particularly helpful in shoring-up child care during the pandemic. However, signatories stressed that while this funding is an important step in the right direction, more long-term investments must be made to ensure that more children and families throughout the state can access high-quality, affordable early childhood programs.

Although united in many of their policy goals, each organization has a unique perspective as to why investments in young people are critical to the future of our country. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members are concerned about high rates of crime and violence in their communities, and are interested in addressing these issues on the front end through programs that are proven to improve academic performance and reduce behavioral issues. ReadyNation members support these services because they see the economic value in ensuring parents can stay in the workforce and preparing a skilled workforce for tomorrow. Mission: Readiness members know these initiatives can address major barriers to military recruitment, such as poor education and childhood obesity, and prepare young people to succeed in the military or in whatever career path they may choose.

Our work has convinced us: We need to not only respond to crime once it occurs, but to take every step possible to avert crime from happening in the first place.

From the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois letter

Linked below are the letters, where you can find more information about the policy priorities of these organizations, which also include strengthening Teen REACH afterschool programs for youth as well as need-based, Monetary Award Program tuition assistance for college students.


  1. Illinois*