Sen. Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois is just a few months away from having a new state agency to streamline the administration of early childhood education care programs and services thanks to Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford.

“The foundation of a child’s success and well-being is built starting the moment they are born,” said Lightford (D-Maywood). “As a state, it is our duty to provide the necessary support and resources to build such stability. The creation of this unique agency will break ground on our transition to a whole, trauma-informed approach to meeting children’s diverse needs.”

The Department of Early Childhood – which will begin its creation July 1, 2024 – will focus on administering early childhood education programs. The new agency will be dedicated to making access to such state programs easier for parents and providers to navigate.

Combining streamlined oversight to state-funded early childhood programs within the State Board of Education, Department of Human Services and Department of Children and Family Services, the new agency will house the responsibility of the Early Childhood Block Grant – which funds the Lightford-backed Preschool for All initiative – among other items. All relevant programs and services will be transitioned to the Department of Early Childhood by July 1, 2026.

“Illinois has become a national leader in the fight to enhance support for our most vulnerable children,” said Lightford. “We are taking yet another positive step to ensure every child in the state has access to the best, all-around care through the creation of the Department of Early Childhood.”

Senate Bill 1 was signed into law Tuesday.