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Ready Nation March Newsletter

ReadyNation Illinois Newsletter | March 1, 2018
Making the economic case for investing wisely in kids

As another legislative session opens in Springfield, Illinois business leaders are speaking-up to help ensure policymakers understand the workforce-development significance of key investments in children. More than 80 business execs joined ReadyNation’s Jan. 30 letterto Gov. Rauner and the General Assembly, focusing on several related priorities for the state budget – an important demonstration of support for a number of research-proven programs and policies.

Will Illinois' FY2019 state budget prioritize workforce improvement?

In his Feb. 14 budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, the Governor suggested maintaining current state investments in Career & Technical Education as well as voluntary “parent coaching” services for the families of at-risk infants and toddlers. He also recommended:
  • A $10.5 million increase in preschool and birth-to-3 resources. While a welcome boost, this nonetheless would fall shy of the funding that ReadyNation and the Illinois State Board of Education had requested to cover more unmet needs, as well as the amount that’s called for in our state’s federal preK grant agreement. It risks the loss of vital federal resources for preschool.
  • Funding child care assistance for working families at a level about $100 million less than in FY15, before the Administration reduced program eligibility and tens of thousands of kids lost access. After two years of encouragement from ReadyNation and partners, officials restored eligibility standards to their original levels last August. However, the program still serves about 30,000 fewer kids than a couple years ago, and eligibility restorations will prove meaningless without the resources necessary to help families secure the services for which they’re once again qualified.

As legislators work this spring to finalize a new Illinois budget, ReadyNation will continue to weigh-in with our research and feedback on what best supports development of a skilled workforce and strong economy.
Meanwhile: Federal-level policy victories for kids & the economy

ReadyNation’s business leaders across the country were proud to join with our partners from the fields of law enforcement, retired senior military leadership, and beyond in persuading Congress to reach a bipartisan federal budget deal that meets several business-friendly aims. This includes significant extension of support for:
  • The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, whose “coaching” help for the parents of young, at-risk children produces great outcomes in health and learning.
  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which strengthens workforce productivity.

MIECHV and CHIP authorization had expired last September before Congress revisited CHIP and then several other key priorities. In fact, the February budget deal also allows for bolstering child care assistance by $5.8 billion the next couple of years.
Meeting with new policymakers

A wave of turnover has brought a number of new state legislators to Springfield, even between elections. Our network of business leaders has been busy meeting with them to introduce them to ReadyNation and the resource we can plan in providing them with research about the connections between workforce development and investments in children’s well-being.

In December, Barbi Brewer-Watson of the Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce (right) joined local law-enforcement leaders in chatting with state Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst (R-Kankakee, second from left). 

Also that month, Tricia O’Brien of the Hoffman Estates Chamber of Commerce & Industry (left) met with state Sen. Tom Rooney (R-Palatine) and Arlington Heights Police Chief Gerald Mourning.

Steve Gaus of the Palatine Area Chamber of Commerce visited state Rep. Jonathan Carroll (D-Buffalo Grove) at his local office in February.

HR professionals + ReadyNation = support for workforce quality

“Investing in children and youth is critical to strengthening our workforce. ReadyNation has been an invaluable resource and partner in these efforts,” Joni Duncan says in a new, national briefthat details the way cradle-to-career investments can boost the kind of skills that employers seek in their hires. The report is primarily intended for Human Resources professionals; Duncan is Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

“Swimming upstream of the workforce skills gap” was the theme of a presentation ReadyNation made to the Talented Workforce Committee of the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce in February. The committee consists largely of HR officers from area businesses, and six of them joined ReadyNation membership following the event. Our thanks to the Oak Brook Chamber’s Tamryn Hennessy for this invitation to present!
Register now for ReadyNation's November summit

Registration is now open for ReadyNation’s Global Business Summit on Early Childhood,Nov. 1-2 in New York City. This event convenes business people, policymakers, funders and other leaders to learn more about the contributions that early childhood investments can make to improving our workforce and economy. This is the only business-to-business gathering that inspires and equips executives from companies of all sizes and industries to promote solutions that prepare young children to succeed. 
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