July 2015

State Latino caucus speaks out against child care cuts


Good morning. My name is Maria del Carmen Macias and I have been a family child care provider in Chicago’s northwest side neighborhood for over seven years.

I care for 16 children, from 12 month old to 12 year of age, every day while their parents work or go to school.

The parents I care for work in dental clinics, supermarkets, factories, restaurants, nursing homes, and school administration.

I’ve cared for many of these children since they were babies, now they are almost nine years old.

I’m here today to denounce Governor Rauner’s attacks on the Child Care Assistance Program and on working families like mine and the families whose children I care for every day.

When Governor Rauner vetoed the budget and refused to work with the General Assembly, he threw our State into an artificial crisis. Why did he do this? Because Governor Rauner puts his own extreme, political agenda ahead of what’s right for children and families.

First, Governor Rauner announced cuts to the Child Care Assistance Program—which serves more than 100,000 families in Illinois. On July 1st, Governor Rauner put a freeze on new applications, denying 5,000 parents access to affordable child care in the first month alone.

Now, Governor Rauner expects home child care providers like me to work without pay—he’s withholding payments to more than 28,000 home child care providers and almost 13,00 child care centers until there’s a budget deal.

Governor Rauner may be able to work without pay—after all, he made $28,000 per hour last year. But providers like me, who make as little as $6 per hour, don’t have that luxury.

When providers don’t get paid, some of us will have to shut our doors. We have families of our own to support, and many of us don’t have savings to get us through more than a month or two. Most child care providers work 60-70 hours every week—so there’s no time to get a second job.

When providers close our doors, we will have to turn away more working parents and children who need quality care. Eventually, if Governor Rauner has his way, there will be nowhere left for families to go.

We cannot let Governor Rauner destroy the Child Care Assistance Program by freezing intake and stopping payments for child care providers.

Child care providers have a tradition where we ask others, especially legislators, to Walk A Day in our shoes. That’s our way of showing the hard and important work that we do every day for children and their families.

I challenge Gov. Rauner to walk a day in my shoes. I think I could teach him a few things about honesty and respect—two lessons that I teach the children in my care a lesson that it’s clear Governor Rauner missed. When he tells us that Illinois is broke, he’s lying—the truth is that Governor Rauner would rather tear apart the Child Care Assistance Program and wage attacks on working families rather than ask his rich friends, like Ken Griffin and Sam Zell, to pay their fair share in taxes.

I am so proud of the legislators standing up with us today against the governor’s destruction of the Child Care Assistance Program—and I call on other lawmakers to stand with me and other child care providers and working parents to stop Governor Rauner from denying one more working parent the child care they need to continue to work, and from denying one more child care provider payments she needs to keep her doors open to serve the families who count on her every day.

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Sun-Times: Community wants Roseland Hospital to stay open


From the Chicago Sun-Times: 

By Maudlyne Ihejirika

In the wake of a judge’s order that state payments to Cook County hospitals relying heavily on Medicaid funds must continue during the state budget standoff, community leaders rallied at South Side Roseland Community Hospital to demand a resolution that goes beyond that temporary reprieve.

“We’re here today for one common cause, to sound off as a community,” said the Rev. Charles Mickens, one of several South Side pastors who led the rally of over 100 people in front of the Far South Side hospital. “We’re the voices crying in the wilderness. We’re here to say to Gov. Rauner that we do not want a much needed hospital in our community to close under any circumstance.”

Roseland, among less than a handful of hospitals in South Side black communities still serving a largely poor population, was cited in a federal lawsuit brought this week by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty as one hospital that soon could be forced to shut down due to funding delays.

The Shriver Center successfully argued that under a consent decree, the state must continue Medicaid payments to Cook County hospitals during the budget crisis. And a federal judge ruled Thursday that the state has to continue those payments to those hospitals even though the state has no budget in place. The ruling predominantly affects some 700,000 children in Cook County enrolled in Medicaid.

“I sat down with Gov. Rauner yesterday, probably about 30 minutes after the federal courts ruled that he must pay Roseland Hospital, and I can tell you, he wasn’t a happy camper,” said State Sen. Emil Jones III, whose district includes Roseland.

“He wasn’t excited that as long as Roseland was still getting some funds, negotiations could still continue. These are federal funds that come from Washington, that have nothing to do with our state budget,” Jones said. “He could have just passed the funds through to these safety net hospitals without a problem. But he had to be forced to do it. What does that tell you? He’s a narcissist. With your help, we will fight these cuts, and let Gov. Rauner know we will not accept this.”

Speaker after speaker, including Roseland CEO Tim Egan and patients at the hospital, railed against Rauner’s proposed cuts in social services, before rally participants linked arms and lined up along 111th street, some holding up signs reading, “#BlackLivesMatter” and “#RoselandMatters.”

Read the full article from the Chicago Sun-Times

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Peoria Journal Star: Rauner administration asking if state retirees would work in event of strike


From the Peoria Journal Star

By Doug Finke of GateHouse Media Illinois

SPRINGFIELD — The administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner has been contacting retired state employees to determine if they would be willing to return to work on short-term contracts in the event of a strike.

The calls apparently have been made over the last several weeks as the Rauner administration and the largest state employee union, Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, have continued negotiations on a new labor agreement.

David Scheina, 65, of rural Sangamon County said he got a call from an administrator at the Department of Children and Family Services about two weeks ago. He was not available to take the call, and the employee left a voice mail message.

“The message asked me to call her back if I was interested in going to work should the possibility occur that the employees go out on strike,” Scheina said.

Scheina said he did not return the call.

“I was somewhat appalled by it,” he said. “I feel it was wrong, an employee on state time trying to line up retirees to cross a potential picket line that I didn’t see being suggested. I thought it wasn’t bargaining in good faith.”

Read the full article in the Peoria Journal Star

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State Representative Carol Ammons Holds a “Walk-a-Day” Event with Local Child Care Provider to Highlight Vital Programs that Support Working Families


Carolyn Smith, a licensed child care provider in Champaign, Illinois, invited State Representative Carol Ammons (D-103rddistrict) to attend a “walk-a-day” on July 24th to see firsthand the hard work and the essential value of her early learning program.

Representative Ammons led a game of educational BINGO, engaged children during play time, and served lunch to the kids ranging in age from one to eleven years old. Throughout the visit, Rep. Ammons heard about the uncertainty and hardship that Ms. Smith and the parents she serves are currently experiencing because of Gov. Rauner’s rule changes to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and payment delays from Rauner’s government shutdown.

“Slashing our state’s child care program will create a domino effect across our communities. Denying child care assistance to low-income parents leaves them with few options: either quit your job, or leave your children home alone. No parent should face that. And for myself, I don’t know when I will receive my next paycheck at this point, I can only keep the doors open for so long like this,” said Carolyn Smith.

Ms. Smith shared a story of one family she serves who started off at her day care three years ago. “They were homeless when the kids first started coming here, but thanks to the Child Care Assistance Program, that mom went back to school, got her education, and now has a job she’s supporting her family on. Examples like that are why we must protect these critical services,” said Smith.

“The Child Care Assistance Program plays a vital role in our communities,” Representative Ammons said. “It allows parents to continue to work and support their families, while simultaneously ensuring that their children receive safe, quality care.”

According to research from Illinois Action for Children, “On July 1, 2015, Governor Rauner made harmful changes to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) that will hurt thousands of families and young children. These changes are not connected to the state budget. The biggest change is that new applications for child care assistance will be denied for 90% of the population. Only families that fall within one of the four priority populations may receive Child Care Assistance: 1) families on TANF; 2) having a child with special needs; 3) earning below 50% of the federal poverty level, or 4) a teen parent.” Low-income families currently utilizing CCAP will also face increases in co-payments that will place greater economic hardships on already struggling parents.

Each day Gov. Rauner’s government shutdown continues, tens of thousands of child care providers worry when they will receive their next paycheck, heightening economic insecurity for these low-wage workers. Since July 1st, it’s estimated that more than 2,500 families have already been denied access to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Those parents now face the difficult decision of going to work and leaving their children at home, or quitting their jobs to stay home and look after their kids.

Studies have shown that parents receiving Child Care Assistance Program subsidies are more likely to choose a higher quality child care setting, and have more stable child care that results in fewer job-related problems. Child care has a stronger economic multiplier than many other industries. For every $100 spending in child care in Illinois, there is an estimated $213 in regional economic impact.
Child care providers and community leaders say they will continue to call on state lawmakers to end the government shutdown and pass a state budget that protects critical programs like child care assistance. Rep. Carol Ammons pledged her support to protecting the Child Care Assistance Program, and called on Republican State Representative Chad Hays (R-104th District) to stand with working families and kids by doing the same.

“Without these essential programs, parents would be forced into the unemployment line or even worse, the well-being of children would be endangered,” Ammons said. “I urge my colleagues in the General Assembly to join me in calling on Gov. Rauner for a restoration of funding to these vital state functions that help protect our state’s future leaders.”

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Hoosiers to Rally to Raise the Wage

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At Statehouse and Across the State, Working Families and Community Allies Call Upon Governor Pence to Take Executive Action to Raise Wages for Struggling Workers, Including 37% of low-income Hoosiers.

Responding to raising prices and stagnant Indiana wages, Hoosier working families and community allies rallied to Raise the Wage on July 24 at the statehouse and in locations in South Bend and Gary.

Participants protested Indiana’s last-place status among neighboring states, pointing out that her near neighbors all have raised the wage on behalf of working families.

The rally was held on the anniversary of the last federal minimum wage increase nine years ago, at which time the minimum wage was increased only 70 cents.

Here’s why a living wage is so important to Indiana:

  • 37% of Hoosiers are struggling to support themselves
  • 49% of Hoosier direct care givers and 45% of fast food workers have to rely on some form of public assistance
  • Hoosier CEOs make 306 times more than the average Hoosier
  • Hoosier purchasing power lags behind national average, ranking 31st
  • Over 7 billions of Hoosier taxpayers’ money has been used for corporate welfare since 2009

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State Senator Steve Stadelman and Representative Litesa Wallace Release New “Innovation Illinois” Study Showing the Dramatic Economic Impact and Jobs Created By Illinois’ Vital Programs for Working Families

As Gov. Rauner’s Government Shutdown Persists, Working Families Urge State Lawmakers to Work Together to Pass a Responsible Budget that Protects Child Care and Home Care Services

State Senator Steve Stadelman and Representative Litesa Wallace joined child care providers and home care workers at the Ken Rock Community Center’s child care program to release a new statewide research study from Innovation Illinois that found that the state’s vital services generates enormous economic benefits and creates thousands of jobs.  Child care providers and home care workers spoke about why these programs are so essential to their livelihoods and communities and how their services support working parents, single moms, seniors and adults with disabilities.

For example, some of the dramatic research from the new Innovation Illinois statewide report found that:

  • Every dollar of spending on the programs generated $3.74 in economic activity..
  • The $1.4 billion invested in child care and home care programs in 2013 generated $5.3 billion in economic activity throughout Illinois.
  • Illinois’ child care and home care programs created more than 144,000 jobs directly and 67,000 jobs indirectly.

Child Care Assistance Program

The report found that the CCAP program:

  • Directly created 77,000 jobs in Illinois, with 43,000 jobs indirectly created.
  • Generated $7.96 in economic activity for every dollar of general revenue spent.

You can read the full study here. 

Here is the breakdown of workers in child care and home care programs by House districts in the greater Rockford area.

House Districts Child care providers Public Home Care Agency Home Care Totals
67th-Wallace 777 614 266 1657
68th-Cabello 213 272 97 582
69th-Sosnowski 122 153 55 330
70th -Pritchard 132 95 28 255
89th-Stewart 256 246 102 604
90th-Demmer 146 162 108 416


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DNA Info: Illinois Ordered To Pay Health Care Providers Despite Budget Stalemate


From DNA Info Chicago:

by Andrea V. Watson

ROSELAND — A federal judge has ordered the state to pay health care providers despite the budget impasse in Springfield.

The state had told providers earlier this month it couldn’t pay them without a budget for the 2016 fiscal year.

But although lawmakers can’t agree on a budget, that doesn’t mean that children covered by Medicaid should suffer, U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow said in her ruling Thursday.

“Nothing has changed that would allow the state to violate the law,” she said.

The court ordered the Illinois Department of Health Care and Family Services to pay health care providers for services rendered to Medicaid beneficiaries in Cook County.

Health care providers who had seen their funding held up in state coffers praised the decision.

“This federal court ruling was a wonderful victory for the entire New Roseland Hospital family,” hospital CEO Tim Egan said Thursday.

Egan on Wednesday ripped lawmakers, saying the hospital only had enough money to make its July 31 payroll. The hospital at 45 W. 111th St. faced the loss of $2 million in Medicaid payments for July and would have had to suspend operations, according to a press release by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, which brought the legal action along with the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago.

The action was brought on behalf of children covered by the Medicaid program in order to enforce access to health care guaranteed by a lawsuit in 2005.

“We are eternally grateful to the Illinois Hospital Association and the wonderful people at the Shriver Center,” Egan said.

” … Our mission is to make sure we deliver the highest quality of healthcare to patients. We won’t let a budget impasse or petty party politics impede our mission.”

Approximately 700,000 children are covered under Medicaid in Cook County, according to the Sargent Shriver of the National Center on Poverty Law.

Tiffany Foster-Mitchell, who works at Roseland Community Hospital as a medical assistant in the Emergency Room, said if the hospital would have closed, it would have been “an absolute disaster,” she said.

Foster-Mitchell, who also lives in the community, said that that the ruling is a victory, but she’s worried about the 85-year-old institution’s future.

“It’s a small victory,” she said. “It’s enough to get some breathing room, but there’s still not a budget. By there not being a budget, once that breathing room is over with, you still have to worry about what’s coming next. So it’s a small step towards a bigger problem. We’re protected for right now, but what’s in the future?”

Read the full article from DNA Info Chicago

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BREAKING: Roseland Hospital Funding Cuts Show “Black Lives Matter” to Bruce Rauner-As Political Pawns

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News is breaking that Gov. Bruce Rauner is refusing funding for historic Roseland Hospital as part of a budget crisis meant to achieve non-budgetary political ends.

Roseland is the only hospital within miles of a far South Side community.

Following is the statement of Jaquie Algee, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Director of External Relations:

“The news that Bruce Rauner is relying on bald political calculations to put the survival of Roseland Hospital in jeopardy and place the welfare and well-being of a poor, African-American community at risk again raises questions of whether he truly believes #BlackLivesMatter.

“And what looks like political score-setting also has an even uglier under-belly when you consider that the vast majority of Rauner’s other cuts and demands disproportionately fall on communities of color.

“The hospital has been a life-saving anchor in the community for some 90 years, serving a community that has suffered from the ugly racial politics of our city and state and the ill effects of trickle-down economics. Closing the hospital is an act of violence on the community, which will be left a desert for medical care. For Rauner, who made his millions through mass layoffs and closures, to come in and sentence this community to a lack of service that will surely lead to death and despair is despicable on its face.

“We were told at one point that Rauner would actually be BETTER for inner-city African Americans than the status quo. His strong-arm politics behind the Roseland Hospital show that sometimes black lives DO matter to Bruce Raunerwhen they are political pawns.”

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A Crisis Not in Theory: Bruce Rauner’s Back-Door Destruction of the Illinois Child Care Program

keith speaking

From the Huffington Post

by Keith Kelleher

Maybe you’ve heard about what’s happening in Illinois, but chances are you haven’t. If the local headlines are to be believed, the shutdown threatened by our new Gov. Bruce Rauner is a theoretical crisis, far off in the future.

In fact, Rauner’s refusal to sit down with legislators of both parties to produce a budget has already created devastating pain for working families, with effects that are sure to ripple outward, damage our economy and threaten the stability of the Illinois working class.

Our union has been on the front line of this fight for the future of Illinois, representing more than 90,000 workers who, each and every day care for more than 100,000 children in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP); serve more than 50,000 seniors in the state’s Community Care Program (CCP); care for more than 30,000 people with disabilities in the state’s In-Home Services Program; and more than 10,000 residents in nursing homes and tens of thousands in our state’s vital Safety Net hospitals.

That amounts to more than 200,000 consumers who are being held hostage by Rauner’s proposed cuts to these vital programs, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of parents, family members and spouses who are placed in a bind when these programs are threatened.

But it’s been more than threats or hypothetical harm for many families who already are struggling to stay out of poverty. That’s because on July 1, Gov. Rauner’s administration totally halted new admissions into the state’s highly successful Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) – this means that an average of 5,000 families per month are now being denied childcare assistance, with preliminary reports suggesting the dropoff amount is likely higher, with many parents not even bothering to apply anymore.

The result is a permanent diminishment of the program, which has enjoyed broad and bipartisan support, without so much as a budget or any real public debate. This is a deliberate attack on the program through attrition, a way to remove a tool that helps working parents without any fingerprints.

And for what? Don’t let Rauner tell you this has anything to do with the budget because it does not. He repeated this myth at another press conference recently. The fact is that Rauner’s demands are firmly rooted in a desire to end labor peace in Illinois and attack collective bargaining, making outrageous contract demands on top of his dangerous proposed cuts.

This deliberate attempt to destroy a successful program like CCAP without debate or public knowledge is a terrible way to govern. It’s even worse for the security and welfare of tens of thousands of children and the economic security of tens of thousands of Illinois’ working families.

Childcare workers have a tradition where they ask others, especially legislators, to Walk-A-Day in their shoes. That’s their way of demonstrating that the hard work they do requires a high degree of love and compassion to those who receive their services.

Childcare providers develop a bond with the children they care for and their families. They become like family themselves. The pain that parents and their children feel from these cuts is felt by parents even as I write this, and it’s a shame.

I challenge Gov. Rauner to walk a day in the shoes of those parents or the childcare providers they count on. I would like him to see the immense value of the services they provide and what it means for them to be left twisting in the wind.

Gov. Rauner’s wealth seems to have blinded him to the pain of others to the point that he is willing to let them suffer so he can advance a set of “reform” goals that are untethered from the immediate needs of our most vulnerable populations.

He has put Illinois on a dangerous path. I hope he has the wisdom to turn around before greater damage is done.

Originally published in the Huffington Post

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Chicago Tribune: Day care providers face uncertain future in absence of state budget

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From the Chicago Tribune:

by Yadira Sanchez Olson

Dortha and Estern Rivers’ days for the past 21 years have been filled with songs, games and nap times.

In their Rivers Home Daycare in Zion, the couple cares for kids ages 1 to 6 while their parents are at work or school. Now, because of uncertainty over state funding, the Rivers are facing tough choices when it comes to their business and their livelihood.

The couple say they may have to say good-bye to families whose little ones they’ve cared for since birth, like Jasmine Williams’ 2-year-old son Cameron.

Williams depends on the Department of Human Services’ Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which provides parents with subsidies for some or all of their day care costs.

The state-funded program has been in jeopardy of losing funding since the last fiscal year when it was deemed underfunded by $300 million, said Maria Whelan, president of the Illinois Action for Children.

“We’re looking at $177 million in cuts,” Whelan said.

Illinois lawmakers have been unable to agree on a state spending plan for the fiscal year that started July 1, and it’s uncertain if or when a new state budget will be in place. Providers will be paid for the month of June, but state funding beyond that is unclear.

Until lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner can agree on a budget that funds the program, 612 Lake County home day care providers, like the Rivers, will have to wait and see wether they will receive payments from the state this month. In Illinois about 32,000 day care providers would be affected by the cuts, Whelan said.

For the Rivers that could mean that more than 50 percent of their monthly income would be shorted, since only 3 out of the 10 children they care for are not in the child care assistance program.

Although Dortha said she wouldn’t close the day care to the three families who don’t depend on CCAP, she’s not sure whether she’ll continue to work with the families who can’t afford to pay.

Williams said her toddler, Cameron, would miss out on being with the people he’s known all of his life.

“I wouldn’t know who to take my son to while I work,” Williams said. “I need to work to pay my bills.”

Dortha’s not ready to give up yet.

Read the full article from the Chicago Tribune

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