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Latino Policy Forum 2024 Springfield Agenda


Through advocacy and analysis, the Latino Policy Forum builds a foundation for equity, justice, and economic prosperity for the Latino community. By catalyzing policy change, the Forum works to improve education outcomes, advocate for affordable housing, promote just immigration policies, and strengthen community leadership.

Latinos are a vibrant and increasingly significant community in Illinois that despite the challenges many in our community face —particularly in accessing affordable housing and education and in navigating a failed federal immigration system— we find a way to prosper and uplift our state. After Whites, Latinos are the largest racial group, and from 2010 to 2020, our numbers in Illinois grew from 16% to 18% of the total population. And in 2018, our community contributed more than $100 billion to the state GDP. Investing in Latinos and finding policy solutions that remove the many barriers to our success will drive prosperity for all.   

This agenda is a guide to the policy, administrative, and budgetary priorities that the Forum has identified as necessary for an Illinois that is more equitable for Latinos. Focusing on education, immigration, and housing, we outline the issues in Springfield that we led, advocated for, and followed closely in 2024.

On Wednesday, May 29, the Illinois General Assembly passed a balanced budget, allocating resources across important priorities and projects for our state. We applaud the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly on a sixth consecutive balanced budget because this ensures that our state’s economy is solvent and strong. At the same time, the Illinois General Assembly has concluded the 103rd legislative session, during which, they have championed important bills and actions that support those most in need. Below we detail where our priorities align with the FY25 budget and legislative victories.


The Latino Policy Forum’s education agenda is focused on equitable access and opportunity for success for Latinos and English Learners from cradle to college completion.

Latino youth, many of them English Learners — students whose home language is not English — are the fastest growing segment of public-school students in the state. Illinois must make appropriate investments in educational programming to provide our youngest students, and all youth in Illinois, with the foundation for kindergarten readiness and future academic success.

Early Childhood

The Forum is proud of the work Governor Pritzker, peer advocates, and the Illinois General Assembly has done to secure a second year of Smart Start, an initiative that includes the critical re-imagining of the Illinois early childhood education and care system under a new department to streamline funding and services.  Illinois’ FY25 budget includes nearly $250 million in new and robust appropriations for the new Department of Early Childhood, the Early Childhood Block Grant, the Child Care Assistance Program, and Smart Start Workforce Compensation Grants. While these are laudable investments, FY25 funding falls short for Early Intervention which identifies and supports young children with developmental delays. Early childhood FY25 allocations include:

  • $14 million for the Department of Early Childhood
  • $75 million increase to the Early Childhood Block Grant
    • As part of Smart Start Year 2, this increased funding will expand access to 5,000 preschool slots in high-need areas. Programming supported by this funding provides birth to three child development and family support services.
    • $122 million for Smart Start workforce initiatives to help raise wages for staff to market rate for their level of education and skills
      • $110 million for workforce compensation contracts
      • $10 million toward quality contracts
      • $2 million for the early childhood apprentice program
    • $36.5 million increase for the Child Care Assistance Program to support caseload growth
  • $5 million increase for Home Visiting Programs
  • $6 million increase for Early Intervention
    • While substantial investment has been made to other programs in early childhood, there is still a gap in funding to facilitate smooth program delivery to children birth to three with developmental delays. The Early Intervention program is currently experiencing unprecedented service delays hindering access to timely assessment and service.

Additionally, several substantive bills passed the General Assembly:

  • Passage of Senate Bill 1, which establishes a new Department of Early Childhood to administer all programming for birth to five early care and education programming by 2026.
    • Illinois is the first state in the nation to extend protections to all children, from birth to five years old, regardless of immigration status.
  • House Bill 4236/Senate Bill 2675: School Construction-Early Child Grant: amends legislation to expand eligibility to school districts. The grant helps fund building renovations, and improvement of early childhood facilities to ensure children have access to quality early learning environments.


Additionally, the Forum strongly supports efforts to increase funding to districts serving Illinois students and lauds strengthened investments in the following:

  • $350 million increase to the Evidence-Based Funding formula, which prioritizes school funding for schools with most need.
  • $45 million increase for the New Teacher Vacancy Grant Program that targets funding to school districts with chronic shortages in recruiting and retaining teachers.
  • $3 million for the implementation of the State Comprehensive Literacy plan.

While the Forum celebrates robust investments to the State Board of Education to advance important K-12 priorities, more attention is needed to support districts experiencing fluctuation in newcomer student enrollment. While projected need is $188 million, the budget does not reflect any state appropriation to address school district funding gaps.

Higher Education

Latino students and their parents understand the significance of obtaining a college degree for achieving upward mobility, and many aspire to pursue their dreams of higher education. However, many young people from the Latino community encounter obstacles in accomplishing this goal. To ensure that Latino students have access to higher education and a promising career after graduation, the Forum is pleased that the following was prioritized in the FY25 budget:

  • Sustained investment of $8 million for the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship, awarded to minority students pursuing a post-secondary degree in education.
  • $10 million increase for the Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) to improve college affordability for students.
  • $5 million for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity program, which provides upskilling and higher education support to early childhood staff currently in the workforce.
  • Senate Bill 461 - In-State Tuition bill passed both chambers. Once Governor Pritzker signs the bill, it will go into effect on January 1, 2025. SB 461 adopts new eligibility standards for non-resident in-state tuition in Illinois public universities—starting in the 2026-2027 academic school year—for immigrant students. Under the new eligibility standards, students that attend and complete at least 2 years of high school or at least 3 years of high school and community college will be eligible for in-state tuition, if available, at an Illinois public university.

The Forum also commends recommendations from the Illinois Commission on Equitable Public University Funding released on March 1, 2024. The considerations include improving college affordability for students entering Illinois four-year institutions. The Forum continues to analyze the implications of these recommendations for Latino and undocumented students. Further analysis will also consider how Illinois can provide transparency and accountability in spending to support Latino retention and completion. This includes funding for academic success programs and intensive academic advising efforts. The Forum looks forward to working with the Latino Caucus, other decision-makers, peer advocates and key stakeholders.


Earlier this year, the Latino Policy Forum advocated for a budget that centered on supporting all immigrant families in Illinois - the over 42,000 new migrants to the Chicagoland area from Central and South America, but also longtime undocumented Latinos and their families. The Forum applauds the work of the Governor and members of the Illinois General Assembly in their commitment to this goal. During this legislative session, we monitored the following substantive bills and budget line items. The results are as follows:

  • We are immensely pleased that the General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution 69, the “Work Permits for All Resolution,” which urges the President of the United States to authorize the establishment of a parole and work authorization program for long-term immigrant workers who are undocumented and residing in Illinois to address the State's critical need for labor and to secure the lives of tens of thousands of mixed status families in Illinois.
    • We wish to thank the Coalition members for their tireless work and advocacy, as well as House Deputy Majority Leader Lisa Hernandez and Senator Karina Villa for their leadership in getting this past the finish line. The work continues, however. President Biden must now act to make this a reality for our families and community members. See our full statement here.
  • We congratulate Advancing Justice | Chicago and other advocacy organizations for their success in passing the Language Equity & Access Act (SB 3762), alongside Reps. Mah, Avelar, and Sen. Karina Villa. The bill strengthens language access requirements for state agencies by requiring the Governor's Office of New Americans to create a statewide language access policy and support state agencies in creating and implementing their own language access plans. It requires agencies to provide timely oral interpretation and written translation for languages that are spoken by at least 1,000 limited English proficient individuals. As we continue to welcome more new arrivals with diverse language needs to our state, this forward-thinking policy will become critical.
  • $182 million to support Chicago and Cook County with sheltering and caring for asylum seeking migrants. We applaud the State for their continued support of asylum seekers. As many struggle to secure housing and work authorization in a timely manner, this funding will become significant to maintaining their livelihood and fostering long-term integration.
  • Funding for a child tax credit for qualifying IL children under the age of 12. We thank the Economic Security Project of IL for their hard work in negotiating a child tax credit with the General Assembly and the Governor’s office. The budget now includes a child tax credit (CTC) for qualifying children under the age of 12, providing parents with a credit of 20% of the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit in calendar year 2024 and 40% in 2025, including Individual Taxpayer Identification Number filers. That would come at a cost of $50 million in FY25 and $100 million the following year, up from the $12 million proposed by Governor Pritzker. We look forward to continued negotiations and adjustments to ensure the most efficient and equitable CTC possible.
  • $38 million in level funding for Immigrant Integration Services. We thank the State for continued level funding of these critical programs. We will continue to support the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in their advocacy for additional funding to the Immigrant Service Line Item (ISLI) for a total of $40 million to assist the ongoing need of low-income families affected by the pandemic with cash assistance and to keep level funding for the New Americans Initiative and Immigrant Family Resource Program.
    • We will also support their ask of $50 million for cash assistance through the Immigrant Family Support Program (IFSP), part of ISLI, to continue supporting families impacted by the pandemic and who do not qualify for federal public assistance.
  • $170 million for Illinois Welcoming Centers. Increased investments for Illinois Welcoming Centers (IWCs) will help expand the State’s capacity for culturally and linguistically responsive comprehensive services for the integration of new and long-term immigrants in Illinois. As new immigrants continue to resettle throughout our state, especially outside of Chicago, it will be important to ensure that IWCs are well-equipped to meet their needs as well as those of the current immigrant population they serve.
  • $25 million in level funding for Illinois Access to Justice (A2J) this fiscal year. The Forum will continue to support The Resurrection Project in their ask of a $5 million increase for a total of $30 million, so A2J can continue to provide legal education, expand its geographical reach, and increase its caseload.


A safe place to live is essential to stability, security, and dignity in our lives and the lives of our families, not to mention strong communities. Its why housing is a basic human right and housing choice is protected by law. The Latino Policy Forum works to ensure that all Latinos in our state have access to quality affordable housing.

Among those in Illinois who are homeless, 11% are Latino. Although lower compared to other racial and ethnic groups, we know that Latinos experiencing homelessness or who live “doubled up” are severely undercounted. And many more, approximately 50% of Latino renters and homeowners in the state, spend more than 30% of their total income on housing costs, which forces families to make difficult decisions between paying for housing or paying for other essential needs such as food, childcare, transportation, or health care.

The Forum, Housing Action Illinois, and partners commend Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly for their commitment to addressing these critical issues. The recently passed 2025 Illinois State Budget includes an overall increase of new funding to the HOME Illinois plan alongside sustained and modest investments into some homeless prevention and support services. However, most allocations did not see significant increases. The Forum is particularly focused on the following distributions:

  • The $90 million overall increase of new funding to the HOME Illinois plan marks a significant step in addressing housing challenges. The majority of these increased investments were allocated to extending the court-based rental assistance program, expanding legal services to prevent evictions, and creating a new initiative aimed at addressing Black homelessness. The Forum celebrates these concerted efforts to protect families on the brink of eviction and to address long-standing housing issues and needs to mitigate racial disparities in homelessness.

New and existing funding allocating to current HOME Illinois plan initiatives are as follows:

  • Sustained $42 million for the Emergency and Transitional Housing Program to expand staffing and operations of existing programs and to make further strides towards eliminating the severe shortage of emergency shelter beds across Illinois. While appreciative of the efforts made, a $20.1 million increase would have significantly helped close existing gaps.
  • Over $16 million for Supportive Housing Services. Although an additional increase of $11 million was needed to develop more permanent supportive housing and other affordable housing options, the allocation remained unchanged from the proposed FY25 budget.
  • $5.4 million increase for the Homeless Prevention Program from the FY24 budget to assist families in staying housed. While the Forum welcomes this modest increase, it falls short of the $10 million requested to address the needs of more households.
  • $4.5 million investment for the Homeless Youth Program to meet the housing and supportive needs of youth. We commend the $1.5 million investment increase from the FY24 budget. However, an additional $6.5 million could have greatly benefitted new providers across Illinois, particularly those not currently offering youth services, by enhancing their capacity to integrate youth service programming.

These investments represent a substantial step towards more inclusive and equitable housing for the Latino community in Illinois. The Forum looks forward to continued collaboration to ensure that all Illinois residents have access to safe and affordable housing.

Posted In: Education, Infant & Toddler Services , Preschool, K-3, Families & Communities, Housing, Homelessness, Immigration, Immigration Reform & Policy, State Investment, Access & Resources, Educators, Representation in Government, Immigrant Integration