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The lead convening advocacy groups in Illinois are Start Early (formerly the Ounce of Prevention Fund) and Illinois Action for Children. Start Early advances quality early learning for families with children, before birth through their earliest years, to help close the opportunity gap. Illinois Action for Children organizes and supports families and communities where children matter most. IAFC and Start Early work in partnership and coalition with many organizations, including the Quality Alliance, a decades-old coalition of more than 40 early childhood organizations, the We, The Village coalition of over 90 organizations which launched the Right To Care campaign, and Raising Illinois, a coalition of more than one hundred organizations focused on investment and policy change in the prenatal and first three years of life.

2022 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Policy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

The grand total of all appropriations (including new appropriations, continuing appropriations, and reappropriations) is $182.7 billion for fiscal 2023. The budget calls for general fund spending of $44.8 billion in fiscal 2023, a 2.5 percent increase from fiscal 2022. Highlights of the budget includes historic funding for education, human services, law enforcement, and violence prevention. The budget provides $1.83 billion in tax relief including suspending the tax on groceries for a year; freezing the motor fuel tax for six months; providing a one-time property tax rebate; permanently expanding the earned income tax credit; providing direct rebate checks to working families; and providing a “back to school” sales tax holiday.1

Political Alignment: Aligned Democrat

During the session, the state’s Senate and House were both Democrat controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Democrat.2

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 37% (500,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% FPL. This number represents a decrease from 41% (584,000) in 2015.3

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Non-White children 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% FPL.3

Advocacy Landscape:

Key state policy advocacy organizations include:

Early childhood policy advocacy multi-state initiatives present in the state include4:

2022 Policy Progress:

Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly, at the urging of early childhood advocates across the state, approved meaningful state funding increases for several early care and education programs in the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 2023) state budget. The legislature also passed numerous measures that will improve the lives of families with very young children.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include5:

The FY23 state budget (Public Act 102-698) makes new investments in several early childhood programs:

$54.4 million (10.0% increase) in additional state funding for preschool, evidence-based home visiting services, and center-based infant-toddler programs funded by the Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

$7.0 million (6.4% increase) in additional state funding for the Early Intervention program, fully restoring the FY22 funding cut.

$1.0 million (6.0% increase) in additional state funding for the Illinois Department of Human Services’ evidence-based home visiting programs, the first funding increase in nearly 20 years.

$2.0 million appropriation to IDHS for deposit into the newly-created Off-Hours Child Care Program Fund.

$2.5 million appropriation to the Office of State Treasurer to fund the recently created Children’s Savings Account Program, which opens long-term savings or investment accounts for a child at birth.

HB4242  is a bill aimed to better connect families involved in the child welfare system to early care and education programs, does the following:

Extends automatic eligibility to EI for infants and toddlers in the child welfare system

Extends automatic eligibility to the CCAP program for parenting youth in care and families on the DCFS Extend Family Support Program

Requires DCFS to pay child care providers the same reimbursement rates IDHS pays its providers

HB4999 is a bill that codifies into state law the timeline (30 days) by which services for families in the EI program must be initiated after a service plan has been approved.

HB1571 is a bill that creates the Off-Hours Child Care Program at IDHS to identify and access off-hours child care for first responders and other workers whom, on account of their work schedule, need child care outside of the hours when licensed facilities typically operate.

SB157  is now Public Act 102-700, a bill that, among other things, expands the Earned Income Tax Credit benefit for all filers; extends eligibility to the EITC for those aged 18-25, those above 65, and ITIN filers; and provides a one-time child tax credit.

Bills to create a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program were introduced in both chambers. There is hope to move these bills more aggressively in 2023, following fall 2022 elections.


Illinois Advocacy Snapshot:

illinois Early Childhood Policy

Illinois Advocates Centered Lived Experiences to Strengthen Access to Early Care and Education for Families Involved in the Child Welfare System

Illinois advocates worked with the state legislature and the Pritzker administration to pass Public Act 102-926. The approved legislation includes proposals developed by the state’s Early Learning Council, with support from Start Early and Illinois Action for Children. The Council’s recommendations were informed by the lived experiences of parents who access early childhood services for their children.

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National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2023 Enacted Budgets, September 20, 2022.

National Conference of State Legislatures, 2021 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 2, 2022.

Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, December, 2020; NCCP Analysis of ACS 5-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2016-2020.

Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-September, 2022.  

2023 Grantee Policy Agenda:

The Alliance’s lead grantees in Illinois, Start Early & Illinois Action for Children, are working to advance early childhood policies in several areas: 

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

Preschool and Pre-K


Child and
Maternal Health

Early Intervention (Age 0-3)


Paid Family & Medical Leave

Home Visiting


More State Policy Data:


More State Demographic Data: