From Voices Executive Director Tasha Green Cruzat
We are on the verge of spring and it does seem to be bringing some hope.
With each passing week, additional COVID-19 vaccines are available.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed legislation to reform criminal justice practices and education in Illinois and hopefully bring greater racial equity with those changes.
President Joe Biden has signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law bringing billions of dollars to the state to help us address the impacts of the pandemic that include health, education, and housing needs. (You can find a summary of the major provisions of the Rescue Plan on our website.)
Yet, there’s a great deal of work ahead of us. Hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents lost their jobs last year. Many of those job losses are permanent. Particularly hardest hit were low wage individuals in the leisure and hospitality industries who could least afford it. Children have fallen behind in their education with remote learning. More Illinois residents face food insecurity than at the start of 2020.
Of course, we cannot forget the thousands of Illinois resident who have lost their lives in the past year due to the coronavirus. The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that as of Saturday there have been 20,924 Illinois deaths from COVID-19 with another 2,264 probable deaths. Many of these individuals were parents and grandparents.
Voices will be working with our fellow advocates, legislators, and the Governor’s administration to help address the outstanding issues the coronavirus is leaving behind. Furthermore, the pandemic has exposed the economic, health, and educational inequities that existed in our state before COVID-19 arrived. While we can inoculate ourselves against the virus, we still need to root out the barriers that prevent every child from succeeding.