Governor J.B. Pritzker proposed a state budget and plan that recognizes the complex layers of nurturing children early in life. It was especially heartening to hear the plan acknowledged the investment needed for an early childhood workforce comprised primarily of women of color.
Erikson Institute applauds Governor Pritzker’s four-year vision for the early care and education system with Smart Start Illinois. Under the plan, investments for fiscal year 2024 would include:
In Illinois, the median wage for early childhood roles ranges from $11-14 an hour. Research shows that the early childhood workforce is critical in helping set the foundation for a child’s learning for the years ahead. Yet, many must supplement their income with public assistance programs to make ends meet or have left the field for higher-paying positions with better benefits. The COVID pandemic only deepened their stress as they served as emergency care providers, working longer hours, implementing safety measures, and addressing the social-emotional issues children continue to experience.
Governor Pritzker’s plan recognizes how important early childhood professionals are to our children and to our economy and his plan builds in wage increases and a path to grow and sustain the workforce. Erikson hopes the Illinois General Assembly will take up the call to support Smart Start Illinois as they review and pass the budget before the end of legislative session in May.
As engaged citizens, it is up to each one of us to drum up awareness and let our elected officials know the importance of supporting our youngest learners and their educators.
Find your local legislator and ask them to support the Governor’s vision for Smart Start Illinois.
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