Illinois’ success in helping children is in peril, according to an advocacy group. In its annual Kids Count report, the group Voices for Illinois Children finds that Illinois has done well over the years in the areas of access to pre-school and health insurance for the young population, but that’s changing, says Christina LePage of the DuPage County Health Department.
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“The Medicaid stabilization plan enacted last year includes some provisions that could jeopardize access to services and quality of care for Illinois children, particularly those with special health care needs,” she said. As of 2011, only 3.7 percent of children in Illinois were uninsured. The national average is 7.5 percent.
Budget cuts have had an impact on early childhood education. The number served in state-funded preschool programs rose steadily from 5,400 in 1988 to a peak of 95,100 in 2009, but has since declined. Child poverty is steadily rising: It’s now 21 percent, up from 14 percent in 2001, and low-income student enrollment in public schools has steadily risen too, from 33 percent I the 1993-94 school year to 49 percent in 2011-12.