Pritzker’s budget highlights major investments in higher and early childhood education, child care

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As Governor J.B. Pritzker delivered his State of the State Address Wednesday, he unveiled major investments in higher and early childhood education, and child care.

Part of his proposed budget would put $100 million more into the MAP grant, which provides financial aid to students helping them afford the cost of college.

Jaichan Smith, a UIS student and a MAP grant recipient, said he wouldn’t have been able to go to school without one.

“Without the MAP grant, I probably would be in and out, take a semester, take some years off,” Smith said. “The MAP grant really allows me to stay in college to focus on college, and honestly, it’s likely that I probably wouldn’t be in college, if I didn’t have it.”

The money Pritzker allocated for MAP grants brings the state’s total investments into the program to more than $700 million dollars, up 75% from when Pritzker took office five years ago.

“I think the governor realizes that there are a lot of people who would go to college if it wasn’t for those obstacles and when the state recognizes that, it is important for the state to work to remove those obstacles,” Mboka Mwilambwe, the mayor of Bloomington and another one of Pritzker’s guests, said.

Another item on top of the governor’s budget priorities: greater investments in early childhood education and child care through Smart Start Illinois adding up to $250 million.

“Those resources help us ensure that we’re providing high quality programs to children and families,” Sonja Crum Knight, the chief programs and impact officer for the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, said. “They also ensure that we’re paying above a living wage that we’re paying our workforce wages that they can be proud of, and not just live but build a life.”

In 2021, the state began a program offering unemployed people three months of childcare.

The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) helped Itanzia Dawson, a teacher’s aide at the center and guest at the address, as she was looking for work.

“It would have been more hard for me to even find help because my family is not big, so I don’t have the extra help from people to keep my kids outside of them being in the center,” Dawson said.

The budget breaks down the $250 million going to Smart Start for different items: putting an extra $75 million into the Early Childhood Block Grant, $130 million for child care workforce compensation contracts, and an additional $45 million to other early childhood education and care programs. 



February 15, 2023 at 07:57PM

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