“This plan fosters greater equity for a workforce entrusted with our most valuable assets—our children.”

CPZCHICAGO – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas’ plan to bolster the early childhood education workforce by creating a statewide higher education consortium passed the Illinois General Assembly May 31. The General Assembly also approved $110 million for standing up the consortium through American Rescue Plan Act federal funds.

“This consortium represents a collaborative effort within the higher education ecosystem to streamline opportunities to upskill incumbent early childhood professionals who are place-based, low wage earners, and comprised of women of color,” Pacione-Zayas said. “We need to remove barriers by expanding access and affordability in this field to show support for the workforce that cares for and educates our youngest while families work and pursue educational goals.”

Now contained within House Bill 2878, Pacione-Zayas' plan forms a statewide higher education consortium consisting of all four- and two-year public institutions, with the option for private institutions to opt in. Signatories would honor any early childhood education student with junior standing provided that they have an associate’s degree of applied science in early childhood from any of the member institutions.

The consortium would create regional hubs that would assess local needs and market demand to determine what kind of education model works best for the last two years of early childhood education students’ needs. The hubs could design bridge models that feature hybrid, fully remote, off-site courses and or non-traditional hours for meeting local needs. This is an effort to expand enrollment, support completion statewide, diversify all levels of the early childhood workforce, and respond to local workforce demands, Pacione-Zayas said.

State Representative Katie Stuart sponsored the bill in the Illinois House.

“I was so happy to work with Senator Pacione-Zayas to pass House Bill 2878 and bring forth opportunities for the early childhood workforce to earn a degree,” Stuart said. “The consortium we created will help Illinois provide high quality educational opportunities to young children across the state.

Illinois Action for Children, a statewide organization focused on the early childhood workforce, supported the initiative, which came out of a working group organized by the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s strategic planning process.

“Illinois Action for Children is thrilled for Senator Pacione-Zayas’ partnership and commitment to the early childhood workforce across Illinois,” said April Janney, President and CEO of Illinois Action for Children. “With her leadership on HB 2878, Illinois will bring both ends of the education spectrum – early childhood and higher education – into alignment in service of a workforce that is majority female and women of color.”

Having passed the General Assembly, House Bill 2878 awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

For a fact sheet on HB 2878, click here.

Category: Press Releases
05302021CM0250SPRINGFIELD – A plan introduced by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) and State Representative Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) to allow for the designation of cultural districts in Illinois cleared its final vote in the Illinois General Assembly Saturday, sending the measure to help affirm the identity of communities in Illinois and preserve their distinct legacies to the governor.
"Communities in Illinois should proudly reflect the identity, contributions and history of the people who have helped build them,” Pacione-Zayas said. “This allows the state to designate up to 15 sites as cultural districts, giving them a chance to pursue community-driven economic opportunity initiatives that ensure our neighborhoods preserve their unique cultures and continue to build legacies.”
An initiative of the Puerto Rican Agenda, the legislation would allow the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to establish the necessary criteria and guidelines for designating such cultural districts. Five such districts could be designated per year, up to a total of 15. The process would be overseen by an advisory board, which the legislation specifies must be made up of a racially, ethnically and geographically diverse group of board members.

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Category: Press Releases

05292021CM0361SPRINGFIELD – An expansion of child care benefits would be permanently codified under a measure introduced by State Representative Lakesia Collins and sponsored in the Senate by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago), raising the income threshold for eligibility to stabilize the program and increase access.

House Bill 3620 raises the income threshold for the state’s Child Care Assistance Plan (CCAP) to 200% of the current federal poverty level beginning July 1. The Department of Human Services is already operating under an administrative rule after advocates, providers, and families urged the increase to open up access. Under current law, the threshold is 185% of the federal poverty level.

“We need to acknowledge the reality that living has become more expensive for families while wages and the federal poverty level have stubbornly remained at the same inadequate levels,” Pacione-Zayas said. “The past year of the pandemic has revealed just how hard families are struggling with child care here in Illinois. We need to make this assistance more inclusive.”

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Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – On Thursday, Latino state lawmakers expressed support for the family of Anthony Alvarez and outrage at another life taken at the hands of police. Deeply frustrated by a system designed to produce these outcomes, lawmakers called for immediate action to eradicate state-sanctioned violence against Brown and Black young people. 

Less than two weeks after the public release of the video footage of Adam Toledo following police orders and still being killed, the lawmakers said this new evidence painfully reinforces that the status quo is unacceptable and reform cannot improve a broken system that does not guarantee public safety, whether you follow directives or as you ask, “Why are you shooting me?”

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability released police body-camera footage and area surveillance videos from the March 31 incident, in which Alvarez was shot and killed during a foot chase near his home in Portage Park. The shooting happened just days after Chicago police fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

“The video of the shooting of Anthony Alvarez is disturbing, and I cannot imagine the sadness and anger his loved ones are feeling right now,” said State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). “Time and again, our communities of color are victim to systemic failures that too often end in tragedy. This failure of the criminal justice system is another indication that we have a long way to go before we see true reform.”

“We are again in mourning, again in shock, again meditating on the last words of someone taken from us by police,” said State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago), who represents Alvarez’s neighborhood, Portage Park. “Those words were ‘Why are you shooting me?’ It is a question police have not answered. As members of Anthony Alvarez’s community, we stand today in support of his family, and to demand answers to that question.”

“Anthony Alvarez, Adam Toledo and countless others killed by Chicago Police should still be with us today,” said State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago). “While confirmed killers like Kyle Rittenhouse are calmly taken into custody by law enforcement, young Black and Brown men are not afforded that treatment. I extend my deepest condolences to Anthony's family and stand with my colleagues in demanding a transparent investigation.”

“I stand by Anthony Alvarez’s family and community as they grieve his death and seek answers on the road to pursuing justice,” said State Senator Karina Villa (D-West Chicago). “There needs to be a full investigation into Anthony’s homicide and an overhaul of a broken system that continues to target communities of color.”

Category: Press Releases

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