early childhood

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

In his budget address today, Gov. J.B. Pritzker listed education as one of his top three priorities, requesting increased funding for programs across the educational spectrum, from babies to grade school to colleges and universities.

Now all he has to do is persuade lawmakers to go along with his plan to pay for it.

Judge Sharon Johnson, Diana Rauner and Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The cause near and dear to the First Lady of Illinois' heart has taken a hit. She said so herself Thursday with her husband, Gov. Bruce Rauner, looking on.


Education may once again receive special treatment from Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. He's set to unveils his plans for the state budget later Wednesday.

Rauner is in an unprecedented position: he's required to present a plan for a new, balanced state budget when Illinois is eight months into its current fiscal year without one and is running a $6 billion deficit.

But a document from Rauner's office shows he'll again propose a windfall for pre-K through high schools.

Wikimedia Commons

Families with babies, from birth until they're three years old, are eligible for state assistance to help their children learn and grow. It's called early intervention. But without a budget, Illinois stopped paying the therapists who provide these services. Now, the comptroller and the governor's administration says they've come up with a way to pay again, even though Illinois still has no budget in place.

When Tamiko Schaefer's baby Daniel was about six months old, she started noticing something.

  Suspended payments for early intervention services will resume, even though Illinois still has no budget. 

Early intervention is just that -- therapists intervening in disabled children's lives when they're infants or toddlers.

Chicagoan Naomi Shapiro's 8-month old has a genetic disorder.

"He received physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, hearing therapy and soon he'll start developmental therapy," she says.

Therapy she says has little Leor Braun smiling, and responding to his own name.