CHICAGO – A longtime advocate of enhancing early childhood support in Illinois, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford stood in support of a proposed new state agency to administer early childhood education programs.

“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 new agency – which would be created legislatively – would focus on administering early childhood education programs. It 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.”

Lightford has long been a champion of early childhood education legislation – including making Illinois the first state in the nation to make preschool available for all children, as well as strengthening early childhood funding.

During the spring legislative session, Lightford expects to support a measure to create the new early childhood agency.