Chante Morrison: We have a child care crisis in Illinois. It’s happening right now.

chante morrisonChante Morrison, Galesburg mother of two, gave the following testimony in front of the DHS hearing on rules before JCAR today:

Hello my name is Chante Morrison and I’m from Galesburg, Illinois. I appreciate the opportunity to voice my opposition to Governor Rauner’s eligibility rules changes to the Child Care Assistance Program today. 

I want everyone here to understand that we have a child care crisis happening in Illinois. And it’s happening RIGHT NOW. When Governor Rauner implemented his eligibility rule changes it was done without any public input or regard for the impact on single, working moms like myself.

I have two beautiful daughters, Jelunni is 3 years old and Chantierra is 7. I want my girls to have a better life than I do; I want to help them achieve all of their hopes and dreams just like any other parent. Chantierra wants to be a teacher one day, and I will do anything in my power to help her reach that goal. It’s a constant struggle as a single parent though. I didn’t plan on raising two children alone, but life happens. 

Over the summer I was working at a big box store in Galesburg doing everything I could to support my kids. I didn’t earn much there, just a little over $10 an hour. My daughters and I were living with my sister because the $1100 a month that I earned at my job wasn’t enough to cover rent, child care, and put food on the table. My three year old also has a condition which has required her to go through multiple surgeries so I always need to think about possible healthcare costs that could arise for her as well.

When I first started my job, my child care situation was very difficult. I had a family member look after my older child, but the three year old required more care than that family member could provide. For as long as I could, I was paying out of pocket for child care for my youngest, but the $320/month was becoming too much to cover. I was constantly trying to find reliable care for my girls so I could keep my job and get back on my feet. It wasn’t a good situation for any of us though – a revolving door of caregivers and constantly shuffling them from one house to another in between my shifts.

Around July 10, I heard about the Child Care Assistance Program and thought my prayers would finally be answered. I went and applied as fast as I could, only to find out that eligibility rules had changed and I could only earn $838 a month to qualify. I was denied the child care assistance I so desperately needed.

Soon after, I lost my job because I couldn’t find affordable child care. Had I not been denied from the Child Care Assistance Program this could have all turned out differently and I could still be working and supporting my family right now.

I don’t want to rely on public assistance, none of the parents who utilize this program do. We are parents who want to work or go to school to improve our lives and the lives of our children. But now, Governor Rauner is forcing us on to welfare.

I am just one example, 90% of families applying for child care assistance are now being denied due to the Governor’s eligibility changes statewide.

I am not a policy expert, but I am a mother and I can tell you firsthand the terrible struggle that my children and I have been going through the last few months due to Governor Rauner’s rule changes.

Now is a time when we need as many people in the workforce contributing to the tax base as possible. The Child Care Assistance Program enables parents like me to work, but it also creates and supports many jobs in the child care industry.

As more and more child care providers see their enrollments dwindle due to these cuts, they will be forced to close their doors. The devastation to the Illinois child care system continues with each passing day that these rules remain in place.

I pray that our lawmakers will stand up for families like mine and roll back Governor Rauner’s rule changes. In the meantime, families are continuing to suffer though. There needs to be action taken, and it needs to happen immediately.

Thank you so much for your time and for listening to my story.

 

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