CPZ EOSQuoteSPRINGFIELD – As the inaugural chair of the Senate Early Childhood Education Committee, State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas is thrilled that investing in early childhood is a priority in this year’s budget. 

“90% of the brain develops before a child turns five. Therefore, early experiences matter. Access to high quality early care and education, health care, and nutrition sets the foundation for better economic, social and health outcomes throughout life,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “This budget works to fill in the gaps in our existing child care system and early childhood programs, transforming the outcomes for Illinois children and establishing our state as the best in the country to raise a family.”

The Fiscal Year 2024 budget allocates $250 million to the Smart Start Illinois early childhood initiative. The multi-year plan provides a comprehensive approach to investments in preparing children to live up to their greatest potential, and invests in ISBE Early Childhood Block Grant, Childcare Workforce Compensation Contracts, early intervention programs, the DHS Home Visiting Program, Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarships and $50 million for early childhood capital improvements.

“With these appropriations, more families will soon have greater access to send their child to high quality preschool as Smart Start investments seek to eliminate ‘preschool deserts,’” said Pacione-Zayas. “In addition, child care providers will receive more relief and support from the state, decreasing burnout and increasing staffing. Because of these investments in families and providers, the Smart Start Illinois initiative is a monumental step to improving early childhood development.”

In addition to the state budget’s focus on early childhood, the proposal continues funding to the Reimagine Public Safety Act, which targets investments to prevent gun violence and expands supports for youth employment programs. Moreover, the budget invests $350 million to support affordable housing and other initiatives to prevent housing insecurity — an $85 million increase from last year.

“In my own neighborhood, many  families have been forced out of their homes due to rent increases, which not only negatively impacts the livelihoods of individuals, but also disrupts  the generations of community members that have been instrumental in building our streets and cities,” said Pacione-Zayas. “I am thrilled that we are making an investment in affordable housing solutions to fight gentrification and support families who wish to stay in communities their ancestors helped to shape.”

The budget package will move to the House for consideration before heading to the governor’s desk.

Category: Press Releases

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