Early Childhood in Illinois Takes Steps in New Direction
Erikson Institute applauds the work of the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education & Care Funding to envision a new path for early childhood in our state. The Commission recently released recommendations for changes that can increase access and affordability of early care and education as well as increase pay and benefits for educators.
The Commission’s three overarching recommendations are to:
- Use a new funding model in future policymaking;
- Centralize early childhood state and federal funding and distribute funds in new ways; and
- Centralize Illinois’ early childhood systems into one state agency.
As an institution in service to children and committed to preparing the early childhood workforce, Erikson is excited for this bold step to streamline the system and acknowledge the significant role our workforce has in the healthy development of our children. We anticipate the centralization will help dismantle barriers that have often led to racial inequities in access to support and services— making it easier for families to get the resources they need.
Recognizing that these recommendations came through an extensive feedback loop that included the Early Childhood Funding Coalition—a group of advocates, childcare providers, school districts, parents, caregivers and non-profit organizations, including Erikson—we implore the State of Illinois to continue stakeholder engagement as it plans the implementation of these recommendations.
To ensure equity, we believe that those who will live with policy changes and utilize programs should be deeply involved in the decision-making process. Integrating guidance from parents, caregivers and home-based and center-based providers is key to implementing changes that align with the needs in the field and safeguard high-quality standards.
This is an exciting time as this will shift Illinois in a new direction that leads to a more comprehensive and coordinated system. Erikson looks forward to working with the administration to center equity and lift the voices of those who will be benefit from the implementation of these recommendations.