Over the course of an election year and two gubernatorial administrations, one Republican and one Democrat, Children’s Home & Aid secured several concrete legislative victories on behalf of the children of Illinois, highlighting the effectiveness of nonpartisan activism and commitment to higher principles, like child welfare and resilience. Working closely with the Republican Bruce Rauner administration and two leading Democratic state representatives in 2018, the organization’s policy arm, The Ahlquist Center, helped develop HB 4885, a piece of legislation aimed at increasing the number of young children in the child welfare system who attend high-quality early care and education programs. Enacted into law in August 2018, the bill has already resulted in more children who experience abuse or neglect receiving early care and education services.
The Ahlquist Center also worked with the Rauner administration to pass PA 100-0818 in August 2018. They then worked the following year with succeeding governor, Democrat J.B. Pritzker, to implement one of its main elements, the Youth Budget Commission, which built upon the Ahlquist Center’s prior work of reimagining the state budget process, embodied in the Fiscal Scan of Public Investments in Children and Youth ages 8-15. Looking at the budget from a lens of positive youth outcomes, the commission will use the scan’s methodology to annually track public funding that supports programs for youth and young adults and compare these investments to program outcomes. This scan represents the first time the state’s budget is organized by goal rather than line item. It serves as an official tool to recommend policy and practice improvements to support positive outcomes for all youth in Illinois.
Children’s Home & Aid shows how nonpartisan advocacy can create positive, concrete change for children at scale by staying committed to children and families and building principled arguments to support its policy prescriptions. The organization continues to stay focused on state budget-related advocacy, including creating a 26-member policy action team that mobilizes staff to reach out to elected officials. Influencing public policy has been core to the organization since its founding. Through the Ahlquist Center and its nonpartisan activism, Children’s Home & Aid continues to fight for its vision of children, youth, and families thriving in strong communities across Illinois.
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About Children’s Home & Aid
Children’s Home & Aid is a leading child and family service organization in Illinois, serving nearly 40,000 children and families each year in over 60 counties. It partners with at-risk children, youth, and families to create hope, opportunity, and bright futures. Since 1883, Children’s Home & Aid has been a leader in responding to the changing needs of children and families in Illinois. It has paved the way in establishing best practices and shaping laws in child welfare, early childhood, and juvenile justice. This work continues today through the organization’s Alquist Center for Policy, Practice & Innovation, which lifts up the voices of children, youth, and families—as well as staff, volunteers, and partners—to inform elected officials and influence policies affecting the communities they serve.