State Legislators Call for Increased Funding for Early Childhood Programs

Apr 25, 2001, 01:00 ET from Fight Crime: Invest In Kids Illinois

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill., April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- A bipartisan group of state
 legislators gathered in Springfield today to urge their fellow lawmakers and
 Governor George Ryan to increase funding for early childhood programs.
     "Illinois is missing an opportunity to apply recent scientific research on
 how quality early experiences impact a child's ability to learn and grow,"
 said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago).  "We should be investing in our children
 now so that we can help improve the quality of life for everyone in Illinois
 instead of paying for our mistakes in the future."
     Studies show that quality care, nurturing and education for children
 between birth and age 5 results in more emotionally secure and successful
 teenagers and adults and fewer treatment costs down the road.
     Legislators said Illinois' proposed FY2002 budget fails to make adequate
 investments in quality early childhood care and education to foster healthy
 emotional and educational development. The group called for increased funding
 for programs that assure every child is ready to learn when he or she enters
 elementary school.
     "It's pretty simple. Our most powerful weapons against crime are the child
 development, child abuse prevention and after-school programs proven to help
 kids become good citizens instead of criminals," said Charles Reynard, McLean
 County state's attorney and co-chair of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois.
 "If our legislators fail to make these proven investments in prevention,
 innocent citizens will continue to pay dearly in jails and prisons and fear."
     Legislators and child advocates are requesting that $47 million in state
 child care funds be restored to the FY02 budget to improve the quality of and
 access to care for more than 75,000 young children. The money should be
 directed to increasing funding for Great START (Strategy to Attract and Retain
 Teachers), a program that addresses the staffing crisis at child care centers
 and homes; creating a Baby/Toddler Child Care Initiative that expands access
 to and quality of care; and updating the income eligibility for the state's
 child care subsidy.
     "We are spending more money than we should and at the wrong time," said
 Rep. Bill O'Connor (R-Riverside). "Because we are acting reactively instead of
 proactively, we're also putting our children at risk for poor physical and
 emotional development. Increasing investments in young children's programs
 makes more sense -- financially and morally."
     The group also is requesting:
 
     -- A $4 million increase for the Intensive Prenatal Performance Project,
        which provides intensive family case management and WIC services for
        highest-risk pregnant women. In FY 1999, Illinois' Medicaid program
        spent more than $325 million on health care costs during the first year
        of life for about 50,000 births.
 
     -- A $3 million increase for voluntary home visiting programs such as
        Healthy Families Illinois that help foster healthy parent-child
        interactions and prevent child abuse and neglect.
 
     "We know that early childhood prevention programs work," said Rep. William
 Delgado (D-Chicago). "We also know that the state's proposed FY 2002 budget
 fails to make much-needed investments in young children to assure that every
 Illinois child is ready to learn when he or she enters elementary school. As
 part of a group of bipartisan legislators and child advocates, I support
 sensible additional investments that would put us on the right track."
     The legislators were joined by Voices for Illinois Children, Fight Crime:
 Invest in Kids Illinois, the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the Day Care Action
 Council of Illinois.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X50083154
 
 

SOURCE Fight Crime: Invest In Kids Illinois
    SPRINGFIELD, Ill., April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- A bipartisan group of state
 legislators gathered in Springfield today to urge their fellow lawmakers and
 Governor George Ryan to increase funding for early childhood programs.
     "Illinois is missing an opportunity to apply recent scientific research on
 how quality early experiences impact a child's ability to learn and grow,"
 said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago).  "We should be investing in our children
 now so that we can help improve the quality of life for everyone in Illinois
 instead of paying for our mistakes in the future."
     Studies show that quality care, nurturing and education for children
 between birth and age 5 results in more emotionally secure and successful
 teenagers and adults and fewer treatment costs down the road.
     Legislators said Illinois' proposed FY2002 budget fails to make adequate
 investments in quality early childhood care and education to foster healthy
 emotional and educational development. The group called for increased funding
 for programs that assure every child is ready to learn when he or she enters
 elementary school.
     "It's pretty simple. Our most powerful weapons against crime are the child
 development, child abuse prevention and after-school programs proven to help
 kids become good citizens instead of criminals," said Charles Reynard, McLean
 County state's attorney and co-chair of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois.
 "If our legislators fail to make these proven investments in prevention,
 innocent citizens will continue to pay dearly in jails and prisons and fear."
     Legislators and child advocates are requesting that $47 million in state
 child care funds be restored to the FY02 budget to improve the quality of and
 access to care for more than 75,000 young children. The money should be
 directed to increasing funding for Great START (Strategy to Attract and Retain
 Teachers), a program that addresses the staffing crisis at child care centers
 and homes; creating a Baby/Toddler Child Care Initiative that expands access
 to and quality of care; and updating the income eligibility for the state's
 child care subsidy.
     "We are spending more money than we should and at the wrong time," said
 Rep. Bill O'Connor (R-Riverside). "Because we are acting reactively instead of
 proactively, we're also putting our children at risk for poor physical and
 emotional development. Increasing investments in young children's programs
 makes more sense -- financially and morally."
     The group also is requesting:
 
     -- A $4 million increase for the Intensive Prenatal Performance Project,
        which provides intensive family case management and WIC services for
        highest-risk pregnant women. In FY 1999, Illinois' Medicaid program
        spent more than $325 million on health care costs during the first year
        of life for about 50,000 births.
 
     -- A $3 million increase for voluntary home visiting programs such as
        Healthy Families Illinois that help foster healthy parent-child
        interactions and prevent child abuse and neglect.
 
     "We know that early childhood prevention programs work," said Rep. William
 Delgado (D-Chicago). "We also know that the state's proposed FY 2002 budget
 fails to make much-needed investments in young children to assure that every
 Illinois child is ready to learn when he or she enters elementary school. As
 part of a group of bipartisan legislators and child advocates, I support
 sensible additional investments that would put us on the right track."
     The legislators were joined by Voices for Illinois Children, Fight Crime:
 Invest in Kids Illinois, the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the Day Care Action
 Council of Illinois.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X50083154
 
 SOURCE  Fight Crime: Invest In Kids Illinois