CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced $9.5 million in funding to consolidate all of Illinois’ early childhood programs and mental health services under a new state agency.

Currently, the services are provided by three separate agencies. Pritzker said he believes that unifying them all will make it easier for providers and families to get help.

The funding is primarily from the CDC’s COVID-19 Public Health Workforce Supplemental Funding program authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) plus $500,000 in state dollars. It is being offered to help schools and local agencies improve student care through workforce enhancements, developing frameworks to prevent adverse childhood experiences, interventions to assist children suffering from trauma, and training for medical and school staff to expand adolescent mental health resources.

“We recognize that the last few years have presented numerous challenges for all of us, and this is especially so for our youth,” Pritzker said. “Thanks to this infusion of federal funding, we are strengthening school-based programs and local agencies that serve the mental health needs of young people all across Illinois. I applaud the Biden Administration for recognizing the need to direct resources to these kinds of programs that support our youth.”

A transition advisory committee has been set up to gather input from parents, providers, and other stakeholders.

The creation of the new unified state agency will require legislation. Pritzker said he plans to work with the General Assembly next Spring.