This year, the Start to Finish Coalition developed and championed HB5202, which passed unanimously out of the Illinois General Assembly and was signed into law August 11 on Kids Day at the Illinois State Fair. The new legislation establishes the Youth Budget Commission, to be comprised of a diverse group of experts in the needs of youth and young adults ages 8-25 across the state, including members of the state legislature. The first of its kind in Illinois, the Youth Budget Commission will oversee an annual fiscal scan of the State budget across six goals—stable, safe, healthy, educated, employable and connected—that all youth need in order to thrive.

The Illinois budget, like other budgets, is typically organized by individual state agencies and not the outcomes that are the focus of the funding. By categorizing funding according to the six goals in the fiscal scan, state agencies can focus on where their work connects and view funding for youth programs through its shared purpose. The Forum for Youth Investment provided guidance and the framework for the initial fiscal scan, which was developed by advocates in Illinois to create a statewide advocacy and policy change movement for older youth and young adults. That document, the Fiscal Scan of Public Investments in Youth Ages 8 to 25, served as the impetus for the Illinois Youth Budget Commission and the public act requiring the state to support and produce the scan on an ongoing basis.

Armed with the information in the fiscal scan, the Commission will make recommendations to the governor, the Illinois General Assembly and state agencies regarding policy solutions and other investments to improve outcomes for youth and young adults ages 8 to 25. The Commission will also serve as a resource to the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Youth, which was established by Executive Order in 2016. Since its inception, the Governor’s Cabinet has focused on cross-agency collaborations that impact young people from birth through age 25. Recent projects include a workforce readiness program and a statewide mentoring network. Advocates who supported the establishment of the Governor’s Cabinet continue to advance a statewide agenda to improve outcomes for youth and young adults as the Start to Finish Coalition.