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Latino Policy Forum 2024 Springfield Agenda

Introduction

Through advocacy and analysis, the Latino Policy Forum builds a foundation for equity, justice, and economic prosperity for the Latino community. By catalyzing policy change, the Forum works to improve education outcomes, advocate for affordable housing, promote just immigration policies, and strengthen community leadership.

Latinos in Illinois do not have equity. Investments in our community have always been woefully inadequate. After Whites, Latinos are the largest racial group in the state, and from 2010 to 2020, our numbers in Illinois grew from 16% to 18% of the total population, thus widening the gap between present resources and the resources required, even further. And as essential drivers of economic growth and stability in our state, our communities do not reap the benefits of the prosperity we make possible. Latinos deserve better.  

This agenda is a guide to the policy, administrative, and budgetary priorities that the Forum has identified as necessary for an Illinois that is more equitable for Latinos. Focusing on the areas of education, immigration, and housing, we outline below the issues in Springfield that we are leading and keeping a close eye on in 2024. 

 

Education

The Latino Policy Forum’s education agenda is focused on equitable access and opportunity for success for Latinos and English Learners from the cradle to college completion.

Latino youth, many of them English Learners — students whose home language is not English — are the fastest growing segment of public-school students in the state. To provide our youngest students, and all youth in Illinois, with the foundation for kindergarten readiness and future academic success, the Forum, in partnership with a coalition of early childhood advocates, is asking the State of Illinois and the Illinois General Assembly for:

  • Early childhood budget increases across four main programs, including: preschool, home visiting, childcare, and early intervention. Annual increased investment in SMART START, which will create 20,000 new preschool slots, enhance access for thousands of families with babies and toddlers from birth to age three, and increase wages for the workforce.
    • $75 million to expand access to preschool in high-need areas and to provide child development and family support services for families with children from birth to age three
    • $160 million for childcare assistance and workforce compensation
    • $20 million for children experiencing developmental delays to get access to early intervention services
    • $5 million for home visiting services for new and expecting families
    • This work is complimented by Governor J.B. Pritzker's legislative efforts in SB3777/HB5451 to authorize the establishment of a new state agency to administer all programming for birth to five early care and education programming by 2026.                                                                                                                    
  • Additionally, the Forum strongly supports efforts to increase funding to empower districts serving Illinois students, including:
    • $35 million for the New Arrival Students Grant Program, legislation that would provide school districts with more resources to serve the estimated 30,000 children from all over the world, who are new to Illinois schools via additional funding to stabilize class sizes, add personnel, and provide professional development and class materials.
    • $550 million increase to the Evidence-Based Funding formula, which prioritizes funding for schools that need it most, which will help to get closer to fully funding Illinois schools.

Latino students understand that a college degree is important to upward mobility, and many want to pursue their dreams of a higher education. However, many of our young people often face barriers to achieving that dream. To ensure that Latino students can access higher education and that there is a career waiting for them after graduation, the Forum is seeking:

  • Flat funding for the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship, awarded to minority students pursuing a post-secondary degree in education.
  • $60 million for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity program, which provides upskilling and higher education support to early childhood staff currently in the workforce.
  • $50 million for the Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) to improve college affordability for students.

The Forum is looking forward to recommendations from the Illinois Commission on Equitable Public University Funding, which we expect will include considerations of college affordability for the state’s Latino and undocumented students entering Illinois four-year institutions.

Additionally, the Forum will seek transparency to ensure funding is directed towards academic success programs and academic advising efforts, critical supportive services that help Latinos thrive and graduate from four-year institutions.


Immigration

Recent events have put into sharp focus where our policies on immigration fall painfully short, for both the over 35,000 new migrants to the Chicagoland area from Central and South America, but also longtime undocumented Latinos and their families.

The Latino Policy Forum advocates for more inclusive and equitable policies and investments for the immigrant community in Illinois, including:

  • Work with the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office to provide a creative framework for the federal government to expand parole to long-term undocumented immigrants and enable them to apply for a work permit.
  • A $2 million increase to the Immigrant Service Line Item (ISLI) for a total of $40 million to assist the ongoing need of low-income families affected by the pandemic with cash assistance and to keep level funding for the New Americans Initiative (NAI) and Immigrant Family Resource Program (IFRP), led by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).
  • $50 million for cash assistance through the Immigrant Family Support Program (IFSP), part of ISLI. The Forum supports ICIRR’s ask of level funding to continue supporting families impacted by the pandemic and who do not qualify for federal public assistance.
  • Continued funding for Illinois Welcoming Centers (WCs) to expand the State’s capacity for culturally and linguistically responsive comprehensive services for the integration of new and long-term immigrants in Illinois.
  • $5 million increase to Access to Justice (A2J), an effort led by The Resurrection Project, for a total of $30 million so A2J can continue providing legal education, expand its geographical reach, and increase its caseload.
  • Creation of a permanent state Child Tax Credit (HB 4917/SB 3329), led by the Economic Security Project Action - IL. If passed, this credit would benefit 1.4 million kids, which is half of all children in the state, including families who file with individual taxpayer identification numbers or ITINs, and their families. Child tax credits are a proven effective strategy to reduce child poverty and boost incomes for people who work but aren’t paid enough to make ends meet.

 

Housing

A safe place to live is essential to stability, security, and dignity in our lives and the lives of our families, not to mention strong communities. Its why housing is a basic human right and housing choice is protected by law. The Forum works to ensure that all Latinos in our state have access to quality affordable housing.

Among those in Illinois who are homeless, 11% are Latino. Although lower compared to other racial and ethnic groups, we know that Latinos experiencing homelessness or who live “doubled up” are severely undercounted. And many more, approximately 50% of Latino renters and homeowners in the state, spend more than 30% of their total income on housing costs, which forces families to make difficult decisions between paying for housing or paying for other essential needs such as food, childcare, transportation, or health care.

The Latino Policy Forum, Housing Action Illinois and partners, call on those in Springfield to advocate for more inclusive and equitable housing investments for the Latino community in Illinois, including:

  • $85 million overall increase of new funding to the HOME Illinois plan to be distributed as follows:
    • $20.1 million increase for the Emergency and Transitional Housing Program
    • $11 million increase for Supportive Housing Services
    • $10 million increase for the Homeless Prevention Program
    • $8 million increase for Homeless Youth Program
    • $35.9 million for expansion of current initiatives (e.g. shelter diversion, street outreach, rapid rehousing)
  • The Forum is also advocating for extended funding to ensure that everyone experiencing homelessness, including new arrivals and the existing homeless population in our state, are eligible for these vital services.

Read the press release HERE.

Posted In: Education, Infant & Toddler Services , Preschool, K-3, Families & Communities, Housing, Homelessness, Immigration, Immigration Reform & Policy, State Investment, Access & Resources, Educators, Representation in Government, Immigrant Integration

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