Governor Protects Early Childhood in Difficult State Budget
Statement from Nancy Radner, Director of Illinois Policy at Ounce of Prevention Fund
CHICAGO, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "We were pleased that today, in the face of difficult budget decisions, Gov. Quinn affirmed his support for early childhood education. However, the budget still reflects Illinois' fiscal difficulties with unfortunate ongoing cuts to elementary and secondary education.
"The governor noted that early education for the youngest among us must remain a top priority. In doing so, he supported four key early childhood programs, proposing level funding for the Early Childhood Block Grant and home visiting, and modest increases in child care and early intervention.
"The Early Childhood Block Grant had been cut by $80 million over the last four years, so Gov. Quinn's proposal is a welcome sign that we are reversing course on cutting funding. However, this year's flat funding does not help our state gain lost ground. Over these last four years, 22,000 at-risk children have been forced out of their preschool classrooms.
"It was also welcome news that Gov. Quinn proposed level funding for home visiting programs. These programs are proven, effective models for children ages birth to three and their parents, providing cost savings such as healthier births and improved school readiness, and matched by $23 million in federal funds.
"The governor's FY14 budget provides a $9 million increase to child care funding, which will allow working families to continue to access this important work support. The governor also proposed a $7.8 million increase in funding for early intervention services, which helps ensure that our youngest children receive screening and services for developmental delays.
"While early childhood programs were spared, the overall education picture for children is troubling, with proposed cuts to General State Aid of more than 3%. General State Aid is the formula grant that makes up the largest amount of state assistance to local school districts.
"Strengthening our state's economy requires investing in education, starting during the birth-to-five years.
"We thank Gov. Quinn for his support of young children in his FY14 budget proposal and urge Illinois lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle to invest in our state's future by protecting education funding."
Ounce of Prevention Fund
The Ounce of Prevention Fund works to ensure that all children, particularly those in poverty, have quality early childhood experiences from birth to age five. Educare Chicago, the Ounce's state-of-the-art school on the South Side, has become a national model of high-quality early childhood education. Learn more at www.ounceofprevention.org.
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SOURCE Ounce of Prevention Fund