Governor Rauner deprived 70,000 families of child care in July…Vote on Tuesday could over turn

Date: 
11/10/2015
AldermenPhn

Alderpersons: Ricardo Munoz (22nd), (sitting)Scott Waguespack (32nd), Toni Foulkes (16th), Roderick Sawyer (6th) and John Arena (45th) on their phones calling State Representatives

The trickle down effect of Governor Rauner's July enrollment freeze for 70,000 low-income families leaves a trail of wasted opportunities and lives. "It is a travisty," says 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack. Monday aldermen, child care providers and center directors, advocates and low-income parents spoke and called their State Representatives to pass bill SB570 on Tuesday.  

Bill SB570 will restore child care for 90% of the children deprived of an education since July. As described by Ireta Gasner, assistant director of Illinois Policy at Ounce of Prevention, "Every day this continues, families are being forced to choose between providing for or caring for their children, children are not receiving the quality early experiences they need to thrive, centers are unfilled or closing and employees are losing their jobs."  

"Without Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) funds, there is not enough money for these kids to go to day care. The parents then have to quit their jobs or lose time from work to take care of the kids. It not only jeopardizes the small daycare businesses but the economy as a whole. It has a ripple effect through the whole economy," explained Waguespack.  

"Couple this cut in funding with the whole City Colleges situation where they are consolidating all the early childhood classes up at Truman. It means that anyone involved in early childhood development whether a parent losing out on employment opportunities or a teacher who is forced away from children to travel to Truman for classes before the end of the school day. The whole system is being torn apart both by City Hall and the Governor and the Governor needs to come to the table and do what is right. He is the one, ultimately, who is holding up all the funding for these children. 

"Bottom line, if these children's growth is stunted at all because they are sitting at home or not learning in early childhood care system, they are missing out on two to three years of development with other children and that hurts everyone in the long run."  

Geographically when speaking of how many children are affected by this, Waguespack said that down in the other parts of the City where "the economy has been battered for decades, you're probably  talking about 90% of the kids. In our area, including Wicker Park and Logan Square it is more like 50 to 60% of the children.

Nieves

Marisol Nieves speaks at City Hall press conference as her husband Jose looks on (left frnt)*

City and State leadership destroying system
"It is a travesty and it's what is frustrating about the leadership across the board at the City and State where the people who are in charge are destroying the system deliberately. They are beyond ideologues, their  vested interests have taken over the interests of the City's population and our economy," said Waguespack.     

Involved in daycare ownership since (2003), Marisol Nieves, owner of Little Einstein Daycare, 3644 W. Wrightwood Ave, provided more history.   

On the parents' side, they are put into the chicken-or-the-egg position, you need a job but, to get the job you need daycare which requires you to have a job. The process for a parent to get the funding used to take up to 30 days. Now it takes up to three months.  

In the meantime, parents pay what they can (which is usually 50% or less of the tuition) for as long as they can. Once approval actually occurs, if the child is still enrolled, then CCAP sends the daycare a bulk payment. The daycare then has to refund the parent or use it as a credit for future copays. 

“This puts a strain on the daycare because the teachers still need 100% of their salary during this waiting period. Most times parents cannot afford to continue paying 50% tuition for extended periods of time.  In some cases, parents get denied, so providers never receive full payment even after waiting months for an approval. In these cases, parents pull the child out and the daycare never sees payment for those discounted months,” explains Nieves.  

To be a daycare center in Illinois, the center has to be licensed. But to be part of the ExceleRate Illinois program, which makes quality a priority, you are held to a higher standard. Payments from the state per student are greater with each level a center achieves.  

Schools are rated bronze, silver and gold. Those levels are determined by the qualifications of the teachers. If a center is in an affluent neighborhood where parents can afford to pay $400 per week income per child, those centers can afford degreed teachers. But if a center is depending on CCAP dollars, they can not be assured when or if they will be paid.  

As Nieves points out, that puts the center into an untenable financial position and often drives the centers out of business, employees looking for new work and children without proper education. 

Nieves, mother of five, who began her business working with low-income families, now has only 10% of her students on State funding. The rest are private pay. While that does not allow her and her husband to realize their founding vision of helping only under-privileged children succeed, they do what they can when they can. 

Currently the inconsistency of the CCAP program is so bad that, if she had two open spots and brought in two children to be CCAP funded, she cannot be assured of ever receiving event partial payment for three months of service by teachers who are paid 100% every day.

*Photo courtesy MNieves

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Comments

SB570 Bill

Why try to so call fix something that was not broken? The future of our children are in your hands. Give them the chance to also enjoy their childhood in a safe and educational environment while their parents work to pay their taxes to continue running the city and all that depend on the taxes to get paid. It was always indicated that keeping a consistency in the lives of the children is a good thing. But How can we maintain consistency? With the cuts we may need to let go of good teachers that are willing to work and help in the development of the children in care. Please restore the SB570 bill so we can all know that the cuts will not take place. Please!

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