The Carole Robertson Center for Learning commends the Illinois General Assembly for prioritizing the needs of our state’s children and families by approving Governor JB Pritzker’s Smart Start Illinois plan as part of our state’s FY24 budget. Smart Start, an ambitious, multi-year plan that invests in early childhood education, will increase preschool access, provide much-needed wage increases for the early childhood workforce, and expand access to supplemental supports for more families.
Included in Illinois’ FY24 budget is a historic investment of nearly $300 million in early childhood education and care funding. Key investments are:
- $170 million for Workforce Compensation Contracts and the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) through the Illinois Department of Human Services
- An additional $75 million towards the Early Childhood Block Grant through the Illinois State Board of Education
- An additional $40 million for Early Intervention through the Illinois Department of Human Services
- An additional $5 million for home visiting services through the Illinois Department of Human Services
The Carole Robertson Center’s dedicated workforce anchors the programs and supports we offer. We applaud the Governor’s administration for its commitment to increasing wages across our sector through investments in the Workforce Compensation Contracts. We look forward to continuing to elevate the role of community-based organizations in early learning, as well as the needs of our hardworking staff.
Research has proven that the first five years of life play a critical role in children’s development and learning, and we thank Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly for their demonstrated commitment to centering the needs of our state’s children and youth, and those who care for them.
As a youth development program provider, we were also pleased to see the following investments in school-aged youth included in the FY24 budget:
- $25 million for the Illinois State Board of Education’s After School Programs grant
- $17.82 million for Teen REACH after school programs
- $9.11 million for afterschool program funding from COVID state funds
The Carole Robertson Center remains committed to centering the needs of our children, families, and staff as we enter year one of Smart Start and beyond. Together, we can work towards the Governor’s vision of making Illinois the best state in which to raise a family.