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The Forum Brings Leaders and Parents to the Capitol to Advocate for Early Childhood Education Funding

By Manny Gonzales

Spring is here and Illinois remains in a budgetary limbo. Human service organizations and non-profits that help Illinois’ most vulnerable communities continue to feel the pain of nearly two years of no full-year budget. Some organizations have been forced to cut staff and a few have shuttered completely. Unfortunately, without community based programs, working families will not be able to access high quality child care to support them.

Cornell Brisco is a Chicagoland father whose three-year old daughter, Naomi Ivory, is excelling in bilingual courses at Carole Robertson Center for Learning in Southwest Chicago. He has seen the costs of some pre-schools triple in recent months: “I’ve seen a lot of parents not able to afford preschool anymore because their monthly rates jumped from $77 to $250 just in 2017.”

Mr. Brisco felt that it was time to get answers so he decided to participate in the Latino Policy Forum’s Early Childhood Advocacy Day. On April 5th, Mr. Brisco joined 45 neighborhood leaders and parents who traveled to Springfield and met with lawmakers at the Capitol to express their concerns about early childhood education funding. 

 Cornell Brisco

Illinois Governor, Bruce Rauner, and the state’s Education Secretary, Beth Purvis, met with a portion of this year’s group of parents, who implored them to pass a budget. Mr. Brisco asked pointedly about the budget stalemate and noted that the longer the state goes without a budget the more damage is done to organizations that provide human services, including those that focus on pre-Kindergarten programs. “It’s scary to me that these little ones are being left behind and end up being more exposed to the crime and violence in our neighborhoods.” Brisco said.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses the Forum’s ECE Advocacy Day group about funding for pre-Kindergarten services

Brisco, a former truck driver who now drives for Uber, conveyed the importance of early childhood education for getting kids a head start on their public education experience. His daughter already speaks English and Spanish. Brisco is proud of his daughter and admires the skills she has acquired thanks to the early education she’s received at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning: “It’s a language skill I wish I had, and I see her able to understand and appreciate other cultures. Her future opportunities are wide open.”

Although advocacy day typically focuses on requests for funding early childhood education, the lack of a full state budget and its various negative effects was a widely discussed topic this year. One parent spoke about the Illinois Department of Human Services Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and how budget cuts have made her ineligible for assistance despite working and trying to go to school to advance her studies.  Another parent spoke about how two of her college age children are no longer receiving Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, which provide financial support for college tuition.

While these are trying times in Illinois, the Forum’s Advocacy Day helps empower the community to address legislators directly which may influence their upcoming decisions. “It is important for parents to meet and speak to legislators about their personal experiences and it is equally important for legislators to hear from the people they serve.” said Karen Garibay-Mulattieri, Manager of Education and Policy Research at the Forum.

Join the Forum and urge state legislators to pass a fully-funded and balanced state budget. Remind them that Illinois’ families cannot afford to wait. Click here to find out who your legislators are and how you can contact them.

Forum ECE Advocacy Day members talk to Illinois Education Secretary Beth Purvis about the importance of supporting early childhood education. 

Participants in the Forum’s ECE Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Springfield.

Representative Lisa Hernandez meeting with community members from Family Focus and Chicago Commons at the Capitol.

Senator Sandoval meeting with Forum Education Manager Karen Garibay-Mulattieri, and parents representing Chicago Public Schools’ Bilingual Parent Advisory Council.

ECE Advocacy Day Group in the Capitol 

Advocacy Day 2017 group photo.

Posted In: Parent Engagement, Preschool, Strengthening Leadership, State Investment, Education