For years we have been repeating “When We Fight, We Win.” This statement is absolutely true.
We have been putting pressure on Governor Rauner all summer long to demand he stand up for child care. We have marched to his mansion in Winnetka, held pop-up preschools and delivered thousands of postcards to his office. Child care providers have spoken to state legislators and alderman in Chicago. On top of this, union members have been working together to defend child care.
All of this was to push back against Governor Rauner’s callous attacks on the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) since 2015.
We all remember in 2015 when Governor Rauner slashed CCAP by changing the eligibility for the program- 40,000 children lost care, parents lost their jobs or dropped out of school, and many child care providers cared for those children without pay. When those cuts happened, not even a full-time minimum wage worker could be eligible for CCAP. The program was left in total devastation, but we kept fighting.
Thanks to the pressure we put on Rauner for years, we have finally won. CCAP eligibility has been restored to 185% of the poverty level
Although, restoring eligibility to 185% of the poverty level adds thousands of children back into CCAP- the program is still devastated and deadlines on mandatory training still loom. In April 2017, family child care providers who receive payments from CCAP were notified that they had to complete 21 hours of mandatory training by September 30th. This announcement came after years of cuts to CCAP at the hands of Governor Rauner’s administration. IDHS has implemented these training requirements with no support for providers to complete these hours by the deadline. The trainings have been inaccessible and affordable for many providers. This consequence of these mandatory trainings is nothing short of a backdoor cut on CCAP.
After a long summer we received notification from Secretary Dimas of the Illinois Department of Human Services that they have applied for an extension for the mandatory training. Their notice provided very little detail and only told us that they applied for an extension with the federal government- NOT that they were providing an extension.
The most important take-away from the letter from Dimas was this:
“I want you to know that the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has been listening to your feedback, and we hear your concerns. Our decisions to seek the following extensions were based on careful consideration of your feedback and guidance in the context of the current budgetary and operational constraints facing the program.”
This tells us everything we need to know.
OUR ACTIONS ARE WORKING.
We cannot stop though; the administration has never truly acted to defend and expand child care in Illinois. Right now child care providers under CCAP are still facing a looming deadline, relatives have not been exempted from training. On top of all of this- the Governor has made veiled comments that when he cuts the budget, CCAP is on the line. We need to continue to demand that affordable child care is accessible to all Illinois children, and that child care providers and teachers are paid living wages. We can and will win.
When we fight we win!