10.23.24 Early Childhood press conference 5

SPRINGFIELD — Members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus joined Governor JB Pritzker at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning on Tuesday to announce a proposal to create a new state agency to house early childhood programs and funding.

“The foundation of a child’s success and well-being is built starting the moment they are born,” said Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood). “As a state, it is our duty to provide the necessary support and resources to build such stability. The creation of this unique agency will break ground on our transition to a whole, trauma-informed approach to meeting children’s diverse needs.”

The new agency – which would be created legislatively – would focus on administering early childhood education programs to provide a more equitable, integrated and holistic system of services for young children and families in Illinois. The proposal would make access to such state programs easier for parents and providers to navigate.

Combining streamlined oversight to state-funded early childhood programs within the State Board of Education, Department of Human Services and Department of Children and Family Services, the new agency would house the responsibility of the Early Childhood Block Grant, among other items.

“A new state agency completely dedicated to the young child that will blend the important elements of early childhood education and care into one department to create bright futures for Illinois children," said State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest). "These coordinated supports will make it easier for families and providers in Illinois and I am excited to work with Governor Pritzker and his team to get this agency up and running.”

The new, unified agency will combine the following programs under a single agency:

  • The Early Childhood Block Grant, which funds Preschool for All and the Prevention Initiative home visiting program
  • The Child Care Assistance Program, home visiting, and early intervention services currently managed by IDHS
  • Day care licensing currently managed by DCFS

“As a strong advocate for education, I’m committed to prioritizing early childhood education that encourages children to be lifelong learners,” said State Senator Meg Loughran Cappel (D-Shorewood). “This will streamline services and access for all early childhood providers and families across the state. I thank Governor Pritzker for putting our students first and making early childhood education a priority here in Illinois.”

“Illinois' children deserve access to the best early childhood education and care services, and this transformation will have a notable impact across the state,” said State Senator Lakesia Collins (D-Chicago). “I am grateful to Governor Pritzker and everyone that is collaborating to make this change possible.”

Governor Pritzker signed an executive order Tuesday initiating the process. He plans to work with members of the General Assembly on legislation during the spring.