As Illinois faces another state budget crisis, funding for critically important early care and education programs are in jeopardy. Despite clear evidence that high quality, affordable early care and education leads to better health, social well-being, and economic success, Illinois has continued to slash both the Child Care Assistance Program and Pre-School For All budgets.
In Aurora, the state's budget crisis has left the school-based Pre-School For All program underfunded and has drastically decreased access to other, vital early childhood services.
In our community our combined four Pre-School For All programs currently are funded for 1,230 Pre-School For All slots, much less than what is actually needed to serve the 5,175 children ages 3-5 who are eligible for these programs. We must ask: where are these children receiving care and how are they spending their days?
The current outline of the state budget is moving in the direction of another $1 billion in cuts to early childhood and K-12 education, and more than $700 million in cuts to human services including child care. If these cuts are made, low-income working parents in Aurora will face even more challenges in providing for their families and affording stable, high quality, early learning programs for their children.
Worse yet, early care and education -- along with other vital human services already cut in recent years -- is further threatened by the upcoming expiration of the 2011 tax increase. We call on our legislators to adopt a long-term solution that both addresses Illinois' structural debts and creates sustainable revenue -- the future of the families, communities, and economy of our state is at stake.
SPARK Aurora Early Childhood Collaboration