The Carole Robertson Center for Learning commends Governor Pritzker for his continued commitment to allocating resources toward the state’s youngest learners as reflected through the proposed multi-year Smart Start Illinois investments outlined in FY24’s budget. These transformative investments include an initial $250 million toward early childhood education, to continue over the next four years.

Watch the full video here: State of the State February 15, 2023
(State of State address begins at the 30-minute mark, Itanzia’s Spotlight begins at the 44-minute mark)

Notable budget allocations include: 

  • $130 million for child care workforce compensation grants that will help community-based providers pay livable and competitive compensation to their staff 
  • An additional $75 million for the Early Childhood Block Grant – a 12.5% increase over FY23 
  • An additional $40 million for Early Intervention – a 34.5% increase over FY23 
  • $5 million to expand home visiting services through the Illinois Department of Human Services - a 27.9% increase over FY23 
  • $100 million for capital improvements through the Early Childhood Construction Grant 
  • $70 million expansion of the Child Care Assistance Program, which will make permanent a 3-month extended CCAP eligibility period for caregivers who are seeking stable employment, allowing more families to access high-quality child care while they look for work 

The Center also looks forward to learning more about the Governor’s proposal to make important changes to the reimbursement formula for CCAP that will stabilize this funding and make it a more predictable source of revenue for all providers. 

In January, Governor Pritzker visited the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, where he emphasized his goal of making Illinois the best state in which to raise young children. We applaud the administration for these historic, bold investments that will expand families’ access to early learning programs, while contributing to a vibrant local economy. 

During Governor Pritzker’s visit to the Center, he learned about our “Grow Your Own” apprenticeship model from Itanzia Dawson, a Carole Robertson Center parent and GYO Teacher Aide. Because of parents like Itanzia, the Carole Robertson Center continues to thrive and to advance our mission of working by, for, and with families. We were delighted that Governor Pritzker invited Itanzia to be his guest in Springfield today for his State of the State and budget address, and that he spotlighted Itanzia during his remarks and invited those in attendance to “recognize Itanzia for the work she’s done and her ability to care for her family.” At the address, she received a standing ovation.

We especially laud the Governor’s targeted investment in the early childhood workforce, which will help ensure that teachers like Itanzia are paid livable and equitable wages for the critical work they do.  

Within the coming weeks, our Illinois legislators will work to finalize the budget. We are optimistic that they will uphold these early childhood investments and champion the needs of children and families across our state.    

We look forward to seeing a final budget that advances Governor Pritzker’s vision to make Illinois the best state for families by embarking on a multi-year trajectory that prioritizes early learning and development. In partnership with families, providers, and the workforce, we will continue to work together to reimagine a system that provides equitable, accessible, and affordable high-quality learning programs for all of Illinois’ young children and youth.   

About the Carole Robertson Center: 

The Carole Robertson Center for Learning is a nonprofit organization that reaches more than 2,500 children, youth, and their families across Chicago, with a significant presence in the North Lawndale, Little Village, and Albany Park communities. The Center is one of the largest early childhood organizations in the City of Chicago, serving linguistically and culturally diverse populations across 27 communities. With recent growth made possible by federal funding, the Center has become the city’s largest birth-to-three program provider. Our programs reach children at every stage of development, from before birth to age 17. 

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Since 1976, the Carole Robertson Center for Learning has been dedicated to educating, enriching, and empowering children and families through comprehensive child and family development programs.