Gov. Pritzker signs measure creating new state agency for early education

Pritzker, who has made early education a focal point of his second term, said the state agency is intended to help simplify an overcomplicated process for parents.

SHARE Gov. Pritzker signs measure creating new state agency for early education
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs legislation to create a new state agency for early education.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs legislation to create a new state agency for early education.

Screenshot

Come July 2026, all Illinois early education programs will be overseen by a newly created state agency.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday signed a measure that will create the Department of Early Childhood. The department will oversee early education programs, including the Preschool For All program, child care assistance programs and day care licensing. Those programs are currently being administered by three agencies: the Illinois State Board of Education, the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Human Services.

Pritzker, who has made early education a focal point of his second term, said the state agency is intended to help simplify an over complicated process for parents.

“It’s hard enough juggling all the responsibilities that fall on the shoulders of parents. And on top of that, they shouldn’t have to navigate a complex bureaucracy to get the care that they and their children deserve,” Pritzker said. “Today, as I stand here among parents, legislators, advocates, providers, I am truly very proud to usher in the beginning of a new era for early childhood education and here in Illinois, as we create the Department of Early Childhood our first ever unified state agency dedicated to supporting Illinois’ youngest children and their parents.”

This year’s budget included $14 million to create the new department, but Pritzker said it’s unclear whether it will require additional dollars once it’s up and running. A task force is responsible for developing a plan for the new agency.

“We don’t think that there will be a truly large measurable difference in the amount of money that gets invested as a result of having a new department, but I know there are people who want to complain about, you know, creating a new agency and will that end up costing the taxpayers. I really don’t think it will,” Pritzker said. “I think there’s real efficiency in taking programs that are disparately located in different department and bringing them all together.”

The governor last year created the multi-year Smart Start initiative, which is aimed at improving access to preschool, increasing funding for child care providers and investing in early childhood facilities. This year’s budget also included $200 million for childcare workforce compensation contracts, which will help give childcare workers a raise.

The Latest
CPS made a mistake when it put temporary federal pandemic aid into its permanent spending base. Now, the money’s running out. A bailout seems unlikely.
At least 28 people in a dozen states have gotten sick. All of the people known to be part of the outbreak have been hospitalized.
El aclamado grupo de salsa colombiano actuó en la noche inaugural de un festival de cuatro días en el Pabellón Jay Pritzker para celebrar el 20º aniversario del Parque Millennium.