Preschool class

SPRINGFIELD – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford is leading the charge to create a new state agency – the Department of Early Childhood – to streamline the administration of early childhood education care programs and services.

“The foundation of a child’s success and well-being is built starting the moment they are born,” said Lightford (D-Maywood). “As a state, it is our duty to provide the necessary support and resources to build such stability. The creation of this unique agency will break ground on our transition to a whole, trauma-informed approach to meeting children’s diverse needs.”

The Department of Early Childhood – which would be created through Senate Bill 1 – would focus on administering early childhood education programs. The new agency would be dedicated to making access to such state programs easier for parents and providers to navigate.

Combining streamlined oversight to state-funded early childhood programs within the State Board of Education, Department of Human Services and Department of Children and Family Services, the new agency would house the responsibility of the Early Childhood Block Grant – which funds the Lightford-backed Preschool for All initiative – among other items.

“Illinois has become a national leader in the fight to enhance support for our most vulnerable children,” said Lightford. “However, we also acknowledge we can’t stop our work until every child in the state has access to the best, all-around care – and the creation of this agency would be a grand step toward that goal.”

Senate Bill 1 will be heard in the Senate Executive Committee.