04292021CM0488SPRINGFIELD – To increase accessibility for higher education, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) has advanced a measure to allow the state treasurer’s office to make payments to Children’s Savings Accounts specifically for students from financially insecure households.

“Historically, Black and Latine families have faced systemic barriers to higher education including affordability, and we need to make sure the programs we have in place to help children are as equitable as possible,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Children’s Savings Accounts are a great mechanism for helping students afford education expenses, but we need to make sure families who need help get assistance.”

The Illinois Children’s Savings Account program will go into effect in 2023. Under the current program, applicable families will receive a seed deposit of $50. Senate Bill 3991 allows the state treasurer’s office to supplement CSA’s for financially insecure households with additional funds.

“As a parent of three children, I have spent years advocating for a statewide children’s savings account program. I didn’t go to college, but my son was lucky enough to receive a scholarship,” said Liliana Olayo, Co-President POWER-PAC IL and member of the Steering Committee of Financial Inclusion for All Illinois. “With a statewide CSA program that promotes equity, more families like mine will have hope for the future and an investment in their children’s potential early on.”

Additionally, the legislation also requires the treasurer’s office to collect more data on program participants to keep track of the community’s social and geographic makeup. This will help further ensure equitable roll out of the program.

“When kids know that their state and their parents are investing in a Children’s Savings Account, they are more likely to believe in themselves and their future. Through Illinois’ CSA program, we can restore students’ hope that has waned over the last two years,” said Amy Eisenstein, Coalition Manager for Financial Inclusion for All Illinois. “Now is the time to fund and implement Illinois’ CSA program with the equity measures included in SB3991, which we are thrilled has passed the Senate.” 

SB 3991 passed the Senate Wednesday and goes to the House for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases


CHICAGO – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) will be hosting multiple COVID-19 vaccine clinics throughout February and March to help ensure residents of the 20th district have regular access to vaccines and booster shots.

FabVax3“We’ve already had great success with getting people to come out and get vaccinated in our community,” Pacione-Zayas said. “By hosting pop-up clinics on a nearly weekly basis, I’m hoping folks will see how quick and easy it is to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the community.”

The most recent pop-up clinic at the 20th district office occurred on Feb. 4 and provided 70 vaccines to community members, with most recipients being children and teens.

Future clinics will take place most Tuesdays through February and March from noon to 5 p.m. at Pacione-Zayas’ district office, located at 3140 W. Montrose Ave. No appointment or insurance is necessary. For those receiving a second dose or booster, a vaccine card with proof of first dose is recommended.

“Vaccine clinics are critical to bringing much-needed vaccines and booster shots to our community, especially younger residents who are back in school,” said Susana González, the vaccine navigator for the 20th district and nurse educator with ASI Home Care. “I encourage everyone to take some time in the next couple months to come out and get vaccinated at the remaining clinics, and spread the word to make sure everyone who wants one, gets one.”FabVax

Sen. Pacione-Zayas’ office is also collecting child-sized N95 or KN95 masks to distribute to students who are back in school. These masks are the most effective against the highly-contagious omicron variant. Residents can make donations to the 20th district office from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays or 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays.

The next vaccine and booster clinic is Tuesday, Feb. 15 from noon to 5 p.m.

Category: Press Releases

020822CT00170SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) is spearheading two measures to give high school students more options for careers following graduation. Both measures passed the Senate Education Committee Tuesday.

“Students have big life decisions to make after high school, whether they choose to further their education or enter a career field,” Pacione-Zayas said. “It’s important that they know what opportunities are available to them as early as possible to give them a plan of action before the school year ends.”

Senate Bill 3990 will require school counseling services to include Career and Technical Education to help students determine any secondary education plans following high school. Counseling students on CTE will better allow some students to find educational and career opportunities that better fit their goals and skills. This is more important than ever as provisions regarding workforce development of the Clean and Equitable Jobs Act begin to go into effect and the state begins to move toward a clean energy economy.

In addition to expanding student counseling on CTE, Pacione-Zayas has introduced a measure, SB 3988, to lower the age requirement for educator paraprofessionals from 19 to 18 for paraprofessionals who work in pre-K to eighth grade classrooms.

“Not only will this measure give new graduates interested in careers in education an opportunity to do so even quicker, it will also help address the need for teachers and teacher assistants,” Pacione-Zayas said. “The ongoing teacher shortage is hurting students, especially those who might need individualized support, so allowing more interested candidates to apply is more important than ever.”

SB 3990 and SB 3988 passed the Senate Education Committee and head to the full Senate for additional consideration.

Category: Press Releases

testingSPRINGFIELD – A measure spearheaded by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) that would prohibit standardized tests for Illinois’ youngest students passed the Senate Education Committee Tuesday.

“Studies show that younger children are best engaged when encouraged to explore and play, and that’s not prioritized when teachers are worried about preparing students for a test,” said Pacione-Zayas, a longtime advocate for education. “Even more, young children are still in the throes of intellectual and emotional development, making standardized tests developmentally inappropriate.”

Currently, the federal government requires standardized testing for students in third grade and older but does not mandate it for students in pre-K through second grade. The Illinois State Board of Education is considering allowing optional standardized tests for those younger students.

Senate Bill 3986, also known as the Too Young to Test Act, would prohibit ISBE from developing or administering standardized tests for students pre-K though second grade, except for the case of diagnostic tests including determining eligibility for special education services, bilingual services, dyslexia interventions, observational tools like the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey, and the federally mandated English Learner assessments.

Pacione-Zayas is working in collaboration with an organization, Illinois Families for Public Schools, to advance this legislation. They say that in a time when children are rapidly developing, their tests scores are not reliable to where they may actually be developmentally.

“Standardized tests at the upper grade levels are already stressful enough. Younger students and their parents should not be pressured into taking optional tests to prepare for those future required ones,” Pacione-Zayas said.

SB 3986 passed the Senate Education Committee and now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

Category: Press Releases

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