In this issue of eAdvocate, review an impactful 2018 and look ahead to several of our advocacy goals for 2019. We at Illinois Action for Children want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. Let’s all rest up so we can hit the ground running with our advocacy efforts in January!
Looking back on 2018, the early learning advocacy community can be proud of many policy victories. Throughout the 2018 legislative session in Springfield, IAFC worked collaboratively with our advocacy partners to pass a handful of bills aimed at improving the early childhood system for children, families, and practitioners. Grassroots advocacy was instrumental in passing legislation, as evidenced by the 1,000 witness slips filed and hundreds of calls made to legislators.
As a result, several bills had between 30 and 70 co-sponsors, all legislation passed unanimously or with veto-proof majority, and each bill was signed into law by the Governor.
Specific legislative accomplishments include:
In January, new legislatures begin their work in Springfield and Washington, as well as a new Governor of Illinois. As you all probably know, last month’s midterm elections brought many new faces to the policymaking process. In Washington, there will be at 111 new members of Congress, including three from Illinois, while Springfield will have a new Governor, a new Attorney General, and 38 new legislators. For more information on the election results—and to get to know the new elected officials we will be directing our advocacy efforts towards—check out IAFCs Midterm Election Results Breakdown. With the legislative session beginning again in January, there are plenty of opportunities for you to take action. Illinois Action for Children’s Policy Team will be meeting with each of the new legislators to provide education on early childhood issues in our state, as well as our policy priorities. Let us know if you are interested in meeting your new legislator or having him or her tour your program! Early learning advocates will have a busy 2019 legislative session both in Springfield and Washington. For instance, CCAP is still serving 30,000 fewer children than it was in June 2015, and the state of Illinois did not spend its full FY18 appropriation amount due to low enrollment. Policy changes such as lowering copays and increasing the eligibility threshold and graduated phase-out period, as well as workforce supports like raising reimbursement rates and simplifying the licensing process—will help increase access to and enrollment in child care throughout the state. Illinois Action for Children is excited to work with dedicated early learning advocates throughout Illinois in 2019 to accomplish these goals.