ILDOCC just came out of what has to be the most successful legislative session in our short history. While the results outlined below speak for themselves, its an example of what this organization has built over a short time in terms of grassroots power, legislative savvy, and development of additional legislative champions who are committed to our cause.
Most notably, our efforts to make the “3-Hour Rule” permanent appear to have been successful. With the help of key champions like Rep. Harry Benton, House Early Childhood Committee Chair Rep. Joyce Mason, and her counterpart Chair in the Senate, Sen. Christine Pacione Zayas, they successfully moved HB 3566 unanimously through the process in both chambers in an effort to get the administration to make the 3-Hour Rule permanent. As of this writing, both chairs have now been given assurances by the administration that there will be no interruption in the 3 hour rule, and that emergency rules are expected to be filed by next Friday to immediately implement this change in the Illinois Administrative Code. This not only protects the 3-hour rule policy going forward, but this outcome is consistent with ILDOCC’s long standing position that the agency use the rule making process, rather than policy guidance, to make substantive changes to the regulations that govern our industry.
While this arrangement rendered the need for HB 3566 irrelevant, the legislation remains poised in the House for a final concurrence vote should that become necessary. But our ILDOCC team, other childcare advocates, and our legislative champions have helped us score a major victory.
Teacher Qualification Standards:
ILDOCC has been attempting to advance this issue since the organizations inception — specifically our proposal seeks to open a new path for lead teachers that puts fair value on actual work experience in the determination of teacher qualifications. In the past, we have been stymied by the refusal of opponents — in particular DCFS — to even entertain the idea. This year, however, with a new legislative champion in Rep. Harry Benton, we have finally started to gain real traction.
This was evidenced by Rep. Benton’s work with Chairwoman Mason to hold a single-subject matter hearing on our teacher qualification initiative before the House Early Childhood Education Committee. This was a hugely important and effective step, as we had the opportunity to use extensive time before the committee to hear stories shared by our members, and to help legislators focus on the fact that current standards refuse to give value to on-the-job experience. In addition to our members, legislators heard the testimony from our President Sarah Stoliker, and our State Coordinator Dezaray Brookshire. Members asked thoughtful questions, and formerly skeptical members seemed to finally understand that what we are asking is not a reduction in standards, rather a alternate path to lead teacher certification that gives credit to workers who have already show ample commitment and capacity for the profession. We look forward to working with our champions over the summer on next steps to keep this momentum going.
Smart Start Initiative:
While not part of the ILDOCC agenda this year, members will no doubt be hearing more in the coming weeks and months about the Governor’s new “Smart Start” initiative. This was one of the Governor’s key goals for the session, and the new budget appropriates $250M to fund the first year of a new early childhood plan with funding increases intended to eliminate preschool deserts, stabilize the childcare workforce, expand the Early Intervention Program and Home Visiting programs, plus funding to begin the overhaul of the childcare payment management system. This initiative includes:
- A DHS operated workforce compensation program for eligible licensed day care centers, licensed day care homes, and licensed group day care homes to be implemented by no later than October 1, 2024. The program is intended to operate separately from the CCAP program — so both programs are ultimately intended to work in tandem with each other. Issues related to the ultimate program design, eligibility and funding calculations must be adopted by Administrative Rule by October 1, 2024 — which gives advocacy groups in the Day Care sector ample opportunity to review, comment, and impact the design of the program.
- The creation of the Smart Start Child Care Program, which may include, but is not limited to, providing funding to increase preschool availability, providing funding for childcare workforce compensation and/or capital investments, and expanding funding to the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Scholarships.
It should be noted that, with implementation timelines looking toward late next year, there are many details to be worked out by the administration in the coming months — nearly all of which will need to go through the public administrative hearing process, giving stakeholders the opportunity to review, make recommendations, and lobby the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) prior to implementation.
In short, this was an unambiguously strong year for ILDOCC, and as we continue to grow our advocacy with each passing year, with your help we will become more successful as well.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dezaray with any questions you might have.
Thank you for your continued support and dedication to our industry, and thank you to all our paid members whose dollars have supported this important work over the last few years.
Please visit Join Us link to join as a member and help us continue on this fight!