Gov. Pritzker Commits to Universal Home Visits for Eligible Families by 2025
Joined by leading advocates for early childhood education and care, Governor JB Pritzker announced a plan to reach universal home visits for eligible families in Illinois by 2025. This announcement follows the governor's historic investments in early childhood funding in the FY20 budget and builds on his commitment to making Illinois the best state in the nation for families raising young children.
"Home visitation supports parents in their all-important role as their child's first teacher and I'm so proud to announce that we're putting Illinois on a path to providing universal home visiting services for our most vulnerable families and kids," said Governor JB Pritzker. "By doing so, we are helping children become better prepared for success in school — expanding their vocabularies, fostering their love of reading and helping them develop social-emotional learning skills. Illinois is now on a path to be the best state in the nation for families to raise young children and this administration will not rest until we reach every child in need."
Voluntary home visiting programs provide eligible families with coaching and support, beginning with pregnancy and continuing throughout the first years of the lives of their children. These programs currently serve 20,000 families in Illinois and will be expanded to an additional 12,500 families over the next five years as a result of the governor's commitment.
Early childhood experts point to the first three years of a child's life as critical developmentally; 80 percent of a child's brain is developed by age 3.
This year, the administration will expand the program by an initial 500 families with $4.25 million in funding, as well as develop the plan to maximize federal dollars and expand the program to universal access for eligible families. This planning will also include an assessment of compensation and other factors relevant to attracting and retaining the necessary staff for this expanded program.
The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development will work closely with all relevant state agencies in this work, including the State Board of Education and the Departments of Human Services, Children and Family Services, Public Health and Healthcare and Family Services.
The Governor directed agencies to build a plan that will accommodate the following approximate increases in enrollment:
• FY22: expand by 2,000 slots
• FY23: expand by 3,000 slots
• FY24: expand by 3,500 slots
• FY25: expand by 3,500 slots
In late December, the administration announced that it secured $40.2 million in federal funding over the next three years to improve early childhood programs across Illinois. Priorities for that funding include investment in the early childhood workforce through scholarships and increased funding to programs to raise staff salaries, particularly in rural areas of the state.
The state received notification last week that it will also receive $18.6 million per year in additional federal child care funding. Today, the governor also announced that he is directing the Department of Human Services to use the entirety of the additional funding to strengthen quality in child care programs. These funds will be used to build increased coaching and supports for child care professionals, expand training and skills for those caring for our youngest children and improve compensation to continue attracting quality teachers to the profession.
Also in December, the Governor convened a commission of leading early childhood experts to make recommendations to revamp the state's approach to early childhood funding efforts to make them more equitable. He also announced that he was increasing child care reimbursement rates for all center and home-based providers statewide by 5 percent and by 20 percent in rural areas.
In the bipartisan state budget that the Governor signed into law in June, he increased early childhood funding by $50 million, expanded child care assistance to serve 20,000 more children and made the state's largest investment ever in early childhood programs and facilities.