Synopsis As Introduced Amends the Higher Education Student Assistance Act. Provides that, beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission must implement and administer a program to award Early Childhood Workforce Free College grants to all eligible child care workers seeking an associate or bachelor's degree from a public institution or a regionally accredited, online-only early childhood education degree program; defines terms. Specifies grant eligibility and renewal requirements. Creates the Early Childhood Workforce Advisory Committee to advise the Commission on all matters relating to the Early Childhood Workforce Free College grant program and on the ways to improve and expand the early childhood workforce in this State. Provides for the membership and support of the Committee and requires the Committee to (i) study and make recommendations to the Commission that are related to the implementation of the Early Childhood Workforce Free College grant program, (ii) conduct an analysis from data received by the Commission to ensure the program is at full utilization, (iii) address access issues to the program, including, but not limited to, geographic, financial, cultural, and workplace settings, and (iv) address ways to expand the early childhood workforce in this State. Amends the State Finance Act to create the Early Childhood Workforce Free College Fund. Effective immediately.
Senate Committee Amendment No. 1 Expands the definition of "child care worker". Changes the definition of "early childhood degree program" to a regionally accredited degree program (rather than online degree program) administered solely through an Illinois-based, not-for-profit organization or through a public institution through which a child care worker may attain a degree or credential or maintain a classroom role in any child care or early childhood education setting, including a Child Development Associate Credential program or an Early Childhood Education (ECE) degree program. Requires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to implement and administer the Early Childhood Workforce Free College grant program beginning with the 2020-2021 (rather than 2019-2020) academic year and subject to appropriation. Provides that, if other eligibility requirements are met, an eligible child care worker seeking to enroll in an alternative educator licensure program under the School Code is eligible for a grant under the program. Removes a provision allowing for exceptions to a student's initial enrollment in a public institution or an early childhood degree program for extenuating circumstances as provided in rules by the Commission. Provides that, in awarding grants under the program, if, in any fiscal year, the amount appropriated for the grants is less than the amount determined necessary to cover the cost of attendance for all eligible applicants, then the Commission must proportionately reduce the grants accordingly (rather than must develop the selection and renewal criteria for students). Requires the Illinois Early Learning Council (rather than the Commission) to provide the Early Childhood Workforce Advisory Committee with administrative and other support. Makes other changes.
Senate Floor Amendment No. 2 Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Reinserts the provisions of the introduced bill as amended by Senate Amendment No. 1 with the following changes. Changes the definition of "early childhood degree program". Provides that if a student chooses to enroll in a private institution, the grant awarded to the student under the program shall be no more than 150% of the highest rate paid on behalf of students in a similar program at a public institution to cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees, less all other student aid. Provides that after completion of or disenrolling from his or her program of study, a student must reside and work within this State in a child care or early childhood education setting for a minimum of one year. Provides that if the student does not reside and work within this State for a minimum of one year, the student must repay the total grant amount awarded to him or her through installments in accordance with rules adopted by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. Creates the Early Childhood Workforce Free College Advisory Committee (rather than the Early Childhood Workforce Committee), established by the Illinois Early Learning Council; changes the membership of the Committee and the Committee's duties. Makes other changes. Effective immediately.