- Published: Tuesday, August 18, 2015 11:53 AM
Lake County News-Sun - Aug. 17, 2015 | Original Article
by Lauren Zumbach
Nykki Harris has two weeks to figure out who will take care of her three week old son before starting a job as a cook and bartender at a golf course.
A few months ago, Harris, a single mom of two from Waukegan, said she would have qualified for a government-subsidized child care program. But cost-cutting measures that took effect in July sharply reduced the amount parents applying to join the Child Care Assistance Program can earn.
Harris said she needs the job to support her family, but she'll be caught between earning too much to qualify for the subsidy, while not earning enough to afford quality child care.
"My cry as a single mother to the government system is to implement something…so parents like myself will be able to go to work, take care of our children, pay our bills, and not just have to be single parents leaning on the state," Harris said at a press conference organized by SEIU Healthcare Illinois, a union representing child care and healthcare workers, State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, and State Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan.
Bush, Mayfield and area childcare providers urged lawmakers to provide more funding for the Child Care Assistance Program while reversing changes they said would leave 10 percent of families once considered eligible able to qualify.
Previously, a family of three earning about $37,000 a year or less would be eligible, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. While families already enrolled in the program will continue receiving subsidized childcare, a family of three applying after the changes took effect July 1 wouldn't qualify unless they earned less than about $10,000 a year.
"Basically, if you are working today, you can't even get minimum wage and be able to get help," said Bush, speaking at a Grandwood Park Park District preschool in Gurnee.