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In Honor of Children's Day, Here Are Five Early Childhood Gains from the FY23 Budget.

By Judith Palma, Social Media Coordinator, Latino Policy Forum

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On April 30th, we celebrated Children's Day. In honor of this holiday, we celebrate five gains from the Illinois fiscal year 2023 budget that benefit the education and health of Latino and English Learner children across our state.

#1: The budget for the Illinois Department of Human Services increased funding for the Early Childhood Block Grant to $598.1 million, a 10-percent increase from last year.

The investment provides funding for two programs that increase access to health and early learning services for children from birth to age 5. The first program, known as the Illinois Prevention Initiative, provides funding for child care programs such as community-based programs, center-based care, school districts, community agencies, federal programs and health departments. Increasing the budget for these programs will make it possible for more children ages birth to three to receive these services. It will also help improve the quality of child care programs. 

The second program that will benefit children through this budget increase is known as Preschool for All. The program is for children ages 3 to 5 and focuses on providing high-quality preschool. A new University of Chicago Consortium on School Research study on ELs found that English Learners receiving full-day preschool for up to two years had better attendance, reading and math grades, and test scores, and were more likely to demonstrate English proficiency in the third grade, these outcomes were augmented for English Learners receiving bilingual support in their preschool program. 

#2: The FY23 budget includes an increase of $350 million to be distributed to the state's K-12 school districts.

Tier 1 and Tier 2 school districts get priority funding, and analysts at the Latino Policy Forum find that more than 70 percent of the state's Latino students are in Tier 1 and Tier 2 districts. The budget for the $350 million annual increase brings our state closer to achieving equitable funding and eliminating disparities in districts across the state.

#3: The Healthy Families Illinois program, which works to improve the safety of children while providing support to families, received 5.3-percent increase.

Expectant and newborn parents receive home visits where they learn how babies grow and develop, how to keep babies safe and healthy, and valuable parenting skills. The program also connects families with medical, dental, mental health, and other community resources.

#4: Another budget increase will provide funding for IDHS's Parents Too Soon program, newly renamed the Mother and Child Home Visiting Program.

At $480,000, that's a 7-percent increase in funding for the fiscal year. This program provides support services to new and prospective low-income parents. Through home visits, support groups, and education, the program helps parents develop practical parenting skills, improve the relationship between mother and child, and promote healthy growth and development for the baby with the ultimate goal of strengthening the family.

#5: Lastly, the state department of human services' Early Intervention program regained funding after a $7 million cut last year.

The Illinois Early Intervention (EI) Program provides a variety of services for families of infants or toddlers with a disability or developmental delay from birth to age 3. Families receive support in discovering the best ways to help their child develop and are also mentored by professionals in the Early Intervention program to reach their goals and help their children get the best start in life. Services in this program include hearing rehabilitation, developmental therapy or special instruction, medical services, physical therapy, sign language, transportation, and more.

We congratulate the state of Illinois for supporting the development and education of our Latino children through budget funds. Happy Children's Day to all the children of Illinois. Our organizations and legislators fight for you to have a better future.