(WSIL) -- 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.
“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.”
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.
To expand degree pathways, the legislation specifically:
- Grants ‘junior status’ to child care workers who have earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in early childhood education
- Determines how to assign college credit for incumbent child care workers who have a child development associate credential
- Standardizes methods to award credit for prior learning
To ensure lasting benefits in the education workforce, the bill also creates a 30-member advisory committee for the consortium to submit a report to the General Assembly and the Governor’s office on an annual basis.