Rep. La Ha Supports Reorganization Creating New Department of Early Childhood

Lemont, IL…State Representative Nicole La Ha has commented on the creation of the Illinois Department of Early Childhood, which will transition into existence over the next two State fiscal years. Senate Bill 1, creating this new department, was signed on Tuesday, June 25. The new Department will administer programs that are currently housed at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

“The current system isn’t working,” said Rep. La Ha. “Licenses have been delayed, day care is expensive and hard to find, and DCFS is a mess. I supported this reorganization because we have to try something new. It is clear that no amount of money can fix the systemic issues at DCFS – the agency has been given more and more funds each year and has not improved. Our children deserve only the best care, and our families the best and most comprehensive resources available to them.”

Under the new law, the often-troubled DCFS will be required to give up its supervision of day care centers, day care homes, and group day care homes to the new Department. This could alleviate some of the burden DCFS currently faces. Additionally, the newly created Department is slated to supervise early childhood education programs and care programs for at-risk children and families, including home visitations and intervention services. The transition of responsibilities over to the new Department will be phased in over a 24-month period concluding on July 1, 2026.

A proclaimed policy goal of the new Department will be to prevent very young children from experiencing deprivations, often experienced within at-risk families, that appear to generate an increased risk of long-term effects upon human achievement levels and personalities. In a parallel budget bill, the General Assembly appropriated $14 million in the upcoming fiscal year for initial IDEC startup costs, including hiring executive staff and opening new office spaces.

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