Five years ago, the Illinois Invest in Kids Act was enacted to ensure that children from under-represented minority communities and low-income households could access the school that best meets their needs by removing financial barriers. Since that time, thousands and thousands of children have accessed their best-fit school thanks to a tax credit scholarship.
With the Invest in Kids Act now up for renewal, we have the opportunity to build on its successes and make the Tax Credit Scholarship Program even more impactful moving forward. Our broad coalition of families, schools, and community leaders have raised their voices about this program’s importance and the need to see it continue for generations of students. As a coalition, we support policy changes that would create stability for already participating families by building onto the existing Tax Credit Scholarship Program and strengthening the program’s support for the most vulnerable students.
Lawmakers are listening and are seeking ways to support the very children the Tax Credit Scholarship Program was intended to serve, as well as narrow the program’s focus onto those families and kids who face the greatest disadvantages. The Invest in Kids Act was designed to provide increased support for families with greater economic need, students with unique learning needs, and economically challenged communities. Importantly, however, disproportionately impacted neighborhoods are most often those Black and Latino communities call home. While over 50 percent of current tax credit scholarship recipients are currently Black and Latino children from low-income households, policy changes could increase their participation significantly. If legislators take action, these policy changes could substantially increase access to best-fit private schools for under-represented minority groups through a life-changing tax credit scholarship.
We are committed to ensuring the Tax Credit Scholarship Program remains a constant and steady lifeline for the tens of thousands of children from under-represented and under-resourced communities who rely on it. Further, we are ready to reaffirm on our commitment by advancing policy changes that provide additional opportunities to communities that are all too often denied quality options.
Toward that end, and in direct response to concerns raised by legislators, we have developed a revised policy that would increase scholarship opportunities for families in under-represented communities in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. If enacted by the legislature, this policy change would achieve the coalition’s goals, importantly keeping the Tax Credit Scholarship Program alive and helping even more students. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing the framework of this policy and related language. We look forward to further discussing the important impacts of this policy moving forward.