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No longer a leader in early childhood investments

A new FPC report lays bare the significant erosion of Illinois’ investments in early childhood.

For example, past progress has been eroded in:

  • Access to preschool. After making steady progress from fiscal years 2003 to 2009, nearly $80 million (21%) has since been cut from the Early Childhood Block Grant. As a result, 20,000 fewer three- and four-year-olds are able to attend preschool this school year than in 2009 – 2010.
  • Child care assistance. When established in 1997, the Child Care Assistance Program created broad access to assistance for low-income, working families. Having child care assistance enables parents to keep their jobs and high-quality child care contributes to children’s healthy development and well-being. Unfortunately, in recent years, funding and income eligibility have been reduced, and family co-payments have increased substantially.

Rise-and-Fall-of-Preschool-Funding

The report warns of an “ominous” outlook for early childhood investments for fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1. This is because current income tax rates are scheduled to automatically decline at midnight January 1, 2015. If the General Assembly does not maintain stable and sustainable revenue,

Illinois would lose more than $2 billion in revenue in FY 2015 and close to $5 billion in FY 2016…Such huge revenue losses would require enormous cuts in nearly every part of the state budget. But programs not protected by federal funds or federal mandates — for example, the Early Childhood Block Grant — would be especially vulnerable.

This erosion of funding for early childhood is symptomatic of Illinois’s poor fiscal health. In order to support the healthy development and education of our most valuable resources—our children—Illinois must get its fiscal house in order. It is crucial that Illinois maintain stable and sustainable revenue to get our state back on the right track.

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