Sen. Michael E. Hastings

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois will soon see the creation of the Department of early Childhood, thanks a new law supported by State Senator Michael E. Hastings.

“Our children’s early education experiences set the trajectory for their future learning outcomes,” said Hastings (D-Frankfort). “This new agency will support our mission to prioritize students across our communities by providing them with opportunities to be successful.”

Senate Bill 1 furthers Hastings’ priorities by enlisting the Department of Early Childhood — which will be created July 1, 2024 — to be the lead agency for administering and providing early childhood education and care programs and services to children and families across Illinois.

During Hastings’ time in the Senate, he has fought to secure funding to support Illinois students through the establishment of the state’s bipartisan, historic funding formula fix that helps ensure schools are funded fairly regardless of a child’s ZIP code, steadily increasing school and education funding through the state budget, and increasing the amounts for need-based student assistance at the state’s community colleges and public universities.

Studies have found that from birth to age 5, children’s brains develop at an extraordinary speed. During these crucial years, Hastings believes it is essential for the state to institute programs that support children’s cognitive and behavioral skills to set the tone for their future educational outcomes.

Hastings, as the father of two young children, sees the advantages of a well-rounded education and learning experiences on a daily basis.

“I am astonished by how quickly my children absorb information and are eager to learn about the world around them,” said Hastings. “I am truly grateful to be able to watch them grow and develop as they learn new fun facts and skills. It is absolutely crucial that all children are given the opportunity to cultivate the skills needed to grow up and go on to become whatever they wish.”

Senate Bill 1 was signed into law on Tuesday. All relevant programs and services will be transitioned to the Department of Early Childhood by July 1, 2026.