CHICAGO – Building on the administration’s ongoing work to make Illinois the best state in the nation to raise young children, Governor JB Pritzker announced a $200 million investment of federal funds in additional training, mentorships, and scholarships to pursue advanced credentials for the childcare workforce over the next two years. The governor also signed HB 2878, establishing a statewide early childhood consortium to strengthen access to high-quality child care and direct this funding to where it can be most effective.

Roughly $150 million in funding will be directed towards resources for child care workers and nearly $120 million will go towards financial support — including scholarships — to encourage child care workers to pursue advanced credentials. An additional $30 million will provide coaches, mentors, and navigators the tools needed to help child care workers pursue their degrees. This allotment of federal funding has the potential to upskill about 20 percent of those in need, or about 5,600 child care workers, who may not be able to otherwise complete a postsecondary degree by 2024.

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“I’m proud to announce a $200 million investment to bolster the education, training, skills, and credentials of Illinois childcare workforce over the next two years,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We are improving the lives of children across our state by giving them a new level of quality care by upskilling our early childhood workforce. We are providing educational opportunity for 5,600 people to earn degrees that will advance their careers. And we are advancing our pandemic economic recovery. All of these investments will pay dividends for years to come.”

This investment builds on the governor’s commitment to make Illinois the best state in the nation for families raising young children. Earlier this month, the state increased payment rates to providers for the third time since the governor took office. During the pandemic, Illinois dedicated $290 million to 5,000 childcare centers and homes in 95 counties. Due to the success of the program, the administration also expanded federal COVID-19 relief dollars to provide another $280 million in grants to support families and childcare providers.

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Furthering the state’s mission to upskill child care workers, the governor signed HB 2878 creating the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity to help strengthen childcare workers’ career trajectory.

The bill authorizes the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) and the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) to create the Consortium to help child care workers earn advanced degrees and strengthen the pipeline of early childhood educators. With the childcare industry predominantly staffed by women, and particularly women of color, this initiative aims to advance equity while meeting the needs of early childhood educators to help better serve children and families.

“I’m thrilled that the Governor is investing $200 million in the child care workforce and launching the Consortium,” said IBHE Executive Director Ginger Ostro. “Early childhood teachers told us they want opportunities to grow and learn but they want to do it while still teaching, caring for their families, and supporting their communities. Through this collaboration of community colleges and public universities we will make that possible.”

“The early childhood education consortium represents a groundbreaking partnership between the state’s community colleges and public universities,” said ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham. “The consortium approach recognizes the important role that community colleges play in training the early childhood education workforce. In particular, the requirement that the Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood transfers seamlessly to any public four-year institution across the state will empower these workers to upskill efficiently and with minimal disruption, positioning them for higher wages and career advancement.”

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