In March 2021, Illinois Governor, JB Pritzker, signed a historic legislative package designed to eliminate sources of systemic racism and advance more equitable practices in multiple areas of the state system. In total, the bills address education, criminal justice reform, and economic development. Provisions of the education bill recognize that policies that improve access to key early childhood services and supports help to ensure equity.
In particular, the Education and Workforce Equity Act establishes the Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultations Act, which will both increase the availability of Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation services in the state, and require behavioral health services providers to use DC: 0-5™ diagnostic codes for children under 5. Additionally, the bill establishes the Early Childhood Workforce Act which offers targeted supports to those interested in increasing their credentials, while prioritizing diversity of the workforce and communities experiencing the greatest shortages. Finally, the bill will extend Part C early intervention services to three-year olds until their next school year begins, minimizing gaps in services and increasing continuity of care.