The Case for Change


Understanding Funding

While Illinois spends much less than is needed on ECEC, the current system actually costs more than it would appear on the surface. The system has ‘hidden costs’ — that is, costs that do not show up on the financial costs of the ECEC system but exist and are borne elsewhere. When these hidden costs are added in, the system’s true costs are much larger.

Hidden Costs of the Broken System

  • Families pay high fees for care or suffer lost wages after leaving the workforce because they cannot afford childcare
  • ECEC workers subsidize the system by being paid significantly below the market average for their level of education and skill, with many eligible for public benefits such as SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid, despite their education and certifications
  • Costs associated with children’s lack of kindergarten readiness, including extra investment needed in K-12 public schools and the long-term social costs that stem at least partially from insufficient ECEC.

Much of this cost is borne by families with low or moderate incomes, by communities of color, and by women of color who make up much of the ECEC workforce. These economic and racial equity challenges were the focus of the work of ECTT.