Included in the state’s budget for the coming year is increased funding for evidence-based home visiting programs across the state, the first funding increase in nearly 20 years. Also included in the budget are meaningful increases for center-based infant-toddler child care programs and the Early Intervention program.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will see a budget increase of $54.4 million (10%), a portion of which will go to fund home visiting programs through the Early Childhood Block Grant Prevention Initiative program. The Early Childhood Prevention Initiative program (PI) provides grants to programs that offer comprehensive child development and family support services including home visiting. Families expecting a new baby or those with children birth to age 3 may participate based on eligibility factors that could put children at risk for later struggles in school.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has two home visiting line items, both of which received an increase in the budget. Healthy Families Illinois follows the Healthy Families America model and received $536,000 (a 5.3% increase). Maternal Child Home Visiting (formerly known as the Parents Too Soon program received $480,000 (a 7% increase).
Advocates in Illinois are strongly encouraging ISBE and IDHS to allocate a sizeable portion of these funding increases to boost compensation for home visitors and other early childhood professionals working in community-based organizations.