ISWE picEVANSTON – In recognition of her continuous work in education policy, State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D- Chicago) was awarded the Early Childhood Champion Award at the 50th Anniversary of the Infant Welfare Society of Evanston’s Baby Toddler Nursery.

“The community sets up children to be who they are. Children learn in context to the web of relationships around them – their parents, caregivers, and teachers,” Pacione-Zayas said at the ceremonial event. “Their environment helps shape them: the care they receive, the community around them, and the city where they live.”

The celebration took place last week and was held to commemorate the anniversary of the nursery as well as to recognize the hard work of the ISWE’s staff, teachers, and parents in uplifting families and educating children.

Pacione-Zayas holds a Ph.D. in educational policy studies and has prior experience with the Latino Policy Forum’s Education Department, was director of community schools at Enlace Chicago, and was the associate vice president of Policy at Erikson Institute. This background has informed her work in the General Assembly, leading her to sponsor legislation to provide more support to those receiving early childhood education degrees.

“Today’s society is nothing without our early childcare work force, and the pandemic definitely proved how essential childcare is,” Pacione-Zayas said. “The work ISWE is so important for preparing children for school while also honoring the identity and home language of the child.”

Learn more about the work ISWE does on their website.

Category: Press Releases

CHICAGO – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas released the following statement on Friday’s sentencing of Derek Chauvin, who was convicted in April for the murder of George Floyd, to 22.5 years: 

“Today, my heart goes out to family of George Floyd who were forced to witness his murder and will have to live without their loved one for their remaining years. While some may interpret the sentencing as a form of justice, let’s not forget that true justice would mean that George Floyd would still be alive today. 

“The law enforcement system too often produces outcomes that result in the systematic harm inflicted on Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities. While the court system has returned a verdict and sentence that is rarely applied to police, we still have much work ahead with addressing the root causes of police inflicted violence.” 

Category: Press Releases

ISWER Event banner

EVANSTON - The Infant Welfare Society of Evanston will be hosting an Early Childhood Champion Award Ceremony on Thursday, June 24th from 9:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. to honor its amazing staff and celebrate 50 years of their Baby Toddler center as the first licensed infant and toddler facility in the state of Illinois. State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D- Chicago) will speak on her work in early childhood policy and recent legislation as well as be presented with an Early Childhood Champion Award.

“I am so excited and honored to be speaking at this event recognizing the hardworking teachers and caretakers at the IWSE Baby Toddler center,” said Pacione-Zayas, who has been a longtime advocate for early childhood education and support. “The past year was incredibly challenging for kids and teachers alike, and those at IWSE have continued to create a welcoming, supportive environment for families in the community.”

The Infant Welfare Society of Evanston runs two full-day, NAEYC accredited child care and early education facilities — Baby Toddler Nursery and Teen Baby Nursery — and provides comprehensive parenting support and education through our Family Support Program. Their centers keep class sizes small, encourage family participation, and celebrate each child’s uniqueness and individuality.

Besides serving as state senator for Illinois’ 20th district, Pacione-Zayas serves as the Senior Policy Advisor for the Erikson Institute with a demonstrated history of effectively working in schools as well as community and advocacy organizations where she utilizes her skills in Early Childhood Policy, Family Engagement, Policy Analysis, Latinx Studies, Political Strategy, Restorative Justice, and Education Policy.

“As the first licensed infant and toddler center in Illinois, ISWE has a long legacy of offering services to children, parents, and parents-to-be,” Pacione-Zayas said. “I look forward to continuing my work to secure organizations like ISWE the resources they need.”

In addition to Senator Pacione-Zayas, other speakers will include: IWSE Board Chair Robert Jones, Executive Director Stephen Vick, and Baby Toddler Nursery Site Director Pamela Staples. They will share the history, current impact, and vision for the future that the IWSE and Baby Toddler Nursery have for our youngest learners in the Evanston, Skokie and Morton Grove Communities.

A light breakfast, coffee and refreshments will be provided at 9:45am and the program will begin at 10:00am. The event will take place in the back play area of the Infant Welfare Society of Evanston (2200 Main Street · Evanston, IL 60202), parking is available in the front lot and on Main Street.

RSVP to the event by Wednesday, June 23 at midnight here.

Category: Press Releases

“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

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