Did you know that in Illinois:
- 3.1 million children (to the age of 18) live in the state;
- 1 out of every 3 children live in a household with only one parent;
- 67 percent of eighth graders are below grade level in math;
- 67 percent of fourth graders are reading below grade level; and
- 16 percent of high school students do not graduate on time with a high school diploma.
Positive Budget Results for Early Care and Education
The voices of America’s Edge members were critical in speaking to policymakers and the public about the importance of early care and education to the business community. Despite the continued fiscal challenges, the Illinois General Assembly prioritized funding for these investments.
- The approved budget protected funding for the Early Childhood Block Grant in the Illinois State Board of Education budget, which supports the state-funded preschool program. Level-funding for this program reverses the trend of nearly $80 million in funding cuts over the last four years.
- The FY 2014 budget also moderately increased state funding of child care assistance programs. The Department of Human Services was given a boost of $7.5 million (about a 1% increase) to support working families, some of whom saw increased co-payments with funding cuts last year.
Our 2013 Policy Priorities
In 2013, America’s Edge members will be urging their state legislators and Congressional delegation to do the following:
a. State Policy Priorities:
- Support funding the FY2014 Early Childhood Education Block Grant (“Preschool for All”) at a level of $300 million, still well below the FY09 level, in the Illinois State Board of Education Budget.
- Support proposed funding for the state child care assistance program in the Illinois Department of Human Services.
b. Federal Policy Priorities:
- Support the state-federal partnership that would increase access to and quality of pre-k to children across the country. This proposal is being discussed as part of the federal budget negotiations that began after the government shutdown. If not included in a budget resolution this year, our work to support this partnership will continue in 2014;
- Fight against cuts, and where possible seek increases, for Head Start, Early Head Start and both the discretionary and mandatory funding streams of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG);
- Work to improve the quality of Head Start/Early Head Start and CCDBG through the reauthorization of these programs.
2012 State Policy Legislative Summary:
- Preschool for All, funded through the Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG), has a $25 million cut.
- State assistance for child care is also being reduced, although not as much as the Governor proposed in February ($85 million programmatic cut). The direct cut is $6 million, and one of our allies is projecting that means an almost $50 million programmatic cut.
Several Illinois Valley business leaders met with State Rep. Frank Mautino on Nov. 12, 2013, to discuss the ways in which strong early learning investments lead to improvements in our workforce and economy. Pictured from left to right at the lawmaker’s Spring Valley office are Tom Welsh, President, MBL (USA) Corp., Ottawa; Rep. Mautino; Sue Isermann, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Workforce Development, Illinois Valley Community College, Oglesby; Boyd Palmer, Executive Director, Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce.
On May 2, 2011, America’s Edge members Kevin Weinacht, President of Weinacht & Associates, Wendi Valenti, Executive Director of the Collinsville Chamber of Commerce and Karen Wilson, Owner of Karen Wilson State Farm met with Representative Dwight Kay (R) and then-Representative Thomas Holbrook (D). Our members introduced America’s Edge to Kay and Holbrook and made the case to maintain funding for Preschool for All.
America’s Edge Releases New Reports
According to the America’s Edge report Making Sangamon County Competitive: Investing in Early Learning to Help Close the Skills Gap released April 23, 2013 by local business leaders, the demand for high-skilled workers in Sangamon County exceeds the supply of those workers by 6,000. And looking forward ten years, the data shows that 84 percent of high-growth, high-wage jobs in Sangamon County will require a two year degree or higher but only 4 in 10 county residents are qualified to compete for those jobs. Expanding investment in voluntary high-quality early care and education programs is the infrastructure improvement Sangamon County and Illinois needs to reverse these startling findings, according to local business leaders.
Steward Sandstrom, President and CEO of The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce; Doug Stewart, Central Illinois Regional President of PNC Bank; Kayla Edwards, Director of Client Services of Express Employment Professionals; and Judy Jozaitis, Vice President of Workforce Development and Community Education at Lincoln Land Community College were on hand today to release the America’s Edge research brief showing that children who attend high-quality early learning programs increase their chances to graduate high school, earn more money, and be prepared with the skills needed for the changing employment landscape.
Three America’s Edge members released a new report which highlights how ensuring investments in voluntary high-quality early care and education programs is the infrastructure improvement Illinois needs to reverse the growing skills gap in its workforce.
Earned Media after Report Release
- QUINCY JOURNAL: Quincy business professionals stretch high-quality early education
- QUINCY HERALD-WHIG: Education touted to reverse skills gap in future workforce
- Facing an underqualified workforce, leaders calling for early education focus
- Click here to read the report entitled, “Strengthening Illinois Business through Investments in Early Care and Education”
Earned Media from 2011 Report Release
- The Belleville News-Democrat‘s story about the release: “Local business leaders say early learning programs are key to economic recovery“
- The Collinsville Herald Journal’s story about the release: “Local leaders call for more education money”
- The Alton Telegraph‘s story about the report release: “Leaders urge state to invest in early education“
- The Suburban Journal‘s story about the release: “Local leaders call for more education money“
America’s Edge Illinois in the News
“Cutting early child care and education programs would be short-sighted and bad business for Illinois.”
–Bill Cox, The Brown Drug Company, Quincy, IL
- November 19, 2013. McGuire, Brian. “How should Illinois invest in its future? Here’s where to start.” Crain’s Chicago Business.
- November 17, 2013. “Business leaders meet with Mautino.” My Web Times.
- September 28, 2013. Stewart, Douglas. “Perspectives on helping kids succeed in school and life.” The State Journal-Register.
- September 4, 2013. Sanchez, Manuel. “Building a pipeline of skilled workers.” Chicago Tribune.
- August 31, 2013. “SJ-R to take a look at ‘skills gap’ project.” The State Journal – Register.
- August 4, 2013. “Closing skills gap critical to good jobs.” The State Journal – Register.
- June 6, 2013. Sherman, Derek. “Letter: Early childhood education is essential.” Rockford Register Star.
- May 18, 2013. Welsh, Thomas G. “Funding for critical programs- including preschool- must remain.” News Tribune.
- May 17, 2013. Stewart, Douglas. “Preschool is an investment that will pay off for state.” Journal Star.
- March 8, 2013. Hendrian, Brian. “Legislators need to invest in our children, the future workforce.” Quincy Herald-Whig.
- April 23, 2013. Landis, Tim. “Skills gap affects thousands of local jobs, says workforce study.” The State Journal-Register.
- April 23, 2013.“Local business leaders discuss closing educational skills gap.” WTAX News Radio.
- May 8, 2012. Miller, John. “Illinois must invest in children for benefit of future workforce.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- May 8, 2012. Woodman, Jess. Letter to the Editor May 8, 2012.The Alton Telegraph.
- December 5, 2011. Cribbs, Jeffrey G. “Wisest investment”. “Wisest investment.” Chicago Business.
- September 28, 2011. Weinacht, Kevin and Cindy Warke. “Closing the skills gap.” Edwardsville Intelligencer.
- May 22, 2011.Valenti, Wendy. “Early educations aids economy.” Belleville News-Democrat.
- April 18, 2011. Nelson, Justin. Letter to the Editor. Canton Ledger Daily.
- March 28, 2011. Cribbs, Jeff. “Invest in Early-Learning Programs.” Chicago Tribune.
- September 2010. Towery, Missy. Chamber Presentation Newsletter. Canton Chamber Courier
- August 24, 2010. Brandon, Ted. Letter to the Editor. Canton Daily Ledger.
- May 17, 2010. Barichello, Monica. ”We all Benefit from Preschools.” The Herald-News.
- May 4, 2010. Cox, Bill. “Increased Support for Quality Early Childcare and Education Establishes A Foundation for our Future.” The Quincy Herald-Whig.
Communications with Policy-Makers
December 9, 2013. As Governor Quinn considers priorities for his FY2015 state budget proposal, nearly 40 America’s Edge members wrote to recommend that he invest in a strong workforce and economy by defending and improving Illinois’ evidence-based support of young children’s learning and development.
May 6, 2011. Illinois business leaders sent a letter to Senator Mark Kirk asking him to consider several important reforms and investments that will ensure businesses have a workforce with the 21st-century knowledge, skills and abilities businesses need. More than 30 America’s Edge members signed onto to the letter.