Investing in Kids’ Well-Being is Foundational to our State’s Success
Illinois law enforcement, business, and military leaders call for greater investments in children in FY24 state budget
As the Fiscal Year 2024 budget is being crafted, almost 200 civic leaders from across the state have written to Governor Pritzker and members of the legislature to voice their support for increased resources for the children and families of Illinois. These letters stress the critical role that proven children’s programs — from early learning to afterschool initiatives — play in protecting our public safety, bolstering our economy, and strengthening national security.
The signatories are members of three partner organizations in Illinois — Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, ReadyNation, and Mission: Readiness. Their members include, respectively, representatives of law enforcement, business executives, and retired admirals and generals from our nation’s armed forces. These organizations support research-based strategies that play a pivotal role helping to set kids on a trajectory toward safe, healthy, and successful lives.
If we want to meaningfully address the significant public safety issues facing our state, we must consider long-term, research-supported solutions that focus on prevention.
From the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois Letter
The groups’ membership jointly call for a 20 percent increase in key birth-to-5 priorities as a way to move the state towards the strategic and structural improvements recommended by the bipartisan Early Childhood Funding Commission. These programs include: high-quality voluntary preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, Early Intervention services for infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities, home-visiting programs that provide voluntary “coaching” for new and expecting parents, and the Child Care Assistance Program providing 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 below.
The lack of accessible and affordable child care is keeping parents of young children from fully participating in the workforce and thereby shrinking the talent pool for employers. The struggles of employers and employees alike make it clear that early childhood services form a foundation on which all other business sectors rely.
From the ReadyNation Illinois Letter
While these organizations join in the call for increased investments in children, each has a unique perspective on why the investments are so critical. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members stress the importance of investing in children as a proactive tool to improve kids’ academic success, reduce behavioral issues, and prevent future criminal activity. ReadyNation members view these priorities as a way to support the workforce of today through child care services that allow parents to work and as a way to develop the skills of the workforce of tomorrow. Mission: Readiness members know that high-quality children’s programming 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.
Illinois’ economy, families’ livelihoods, and our national security are on the line with these budgetary decisions. Investing in and prioritizing early childhood programs is an effective way to address our challenges, help children succeed in whatever path they choose later in life, and make Illinois the best state to raise a family.
From the Mission: Readiness Illinois Letter
Assembling the FY24 budget is one of the biggest tasks facing the new General Assembly — in which one out of five lawmakers is new to his or her post — and Governor Pritzker, starting his second term in office. We were heartened to hear the Governor emphasize the importance of improving early childhood care and education in his recent inaugural address. We await further details, related to both budget priorities and other policy changes, that will move Illinois toward systemic improvements for the benefit of kids from prenatal to 5 years of age.