Senator Bush visits a daycare facility
Lake County News-Sun
, Nov. 5, 2015 | Original article

By Frank Abderholden

Two state legislators from Lake County are pushing a bill to reinstate child care benefits that were curtailed in an emergency executive order signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner earlier this year.

With Senate Bill 570 scheduled for its third house vote next week, state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, and state Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, got together in Gurnee on Thursday to sign a pledge in support of the bill.

"You have a single mom going to work doing the right thing, but if she makes minimum wage (during a 40-hour work week) she is making too much money (to receive child care assistance). So what are you going to do?" Bush asked. "She's trying to do the right thing, and we're saying to her, 'Stay at home and collect welfare.'

"We want to be the hand-up and not the hand-out state," added Bush, explaining that about 90 percent of the people who used to be eligible now don't qualify due to the governor's action July 1. "It's a temporary hand-up program, one the Republicans started. You can only receive it for a limited time."

According to Stand for Children Illinois, more than 3,600 children have been rejected by the Child Care Assistance Program since July 1. Scott Vogel, spokesman for Service Employees International Union, cited that statistic as well as the governor's office's statement that 90,000 children remain covered by CCAP benefits. But Vogel said the 90,000 means CCAP now supports about half the number of children it did last year.

Sharing additional statistics, Vogel said 600,000 children are living in poverty in Illinois. He then cited a study from the Economic Policy Institute that found a full-time, minimum-wage earner would need to spend 74 percent of his or her wages on child care for an infant.

According to Bush's office, CCAP eligibility for new applicants is broken down into four categories: those who qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; teen parents in high school; families with children who have special needs; and working families who make less than 50 percent of the federal poverty level.

To be eligible for CCAP, a family of two must live off less than $664 per month. A family of five is ineligible if they make over $1,184 per month. Families who qualify for CCAP pay a portion of the child care costs on a sliding scale.

Before the changes July 1, a family of four could earn $3,739 per month and would could still qualify for CCAP support. Those families would have to pay a $380 monthly co-pay for child care.

"They are looking for programs to cut, and these are the wrong programs to cut," Mayfield said.

Bush said she was at the train station in Round Lake Beach on Thursday morning when she met a young woman who is working part time and going to college with hopes of becoming an attorney. Without the program, Bush said, she would not be able to do it.

"These are exactly the type of people we want to support," Bush said.

"We're hurting a lot of people because of a political agenda. If leadership doesn't bend on ideology, then we are going to stay stuck," she said.

Jose Aguilera, 38, and his wife, Christine, have run Khris' Day Care in Waukegan for more than five years. As members of the SEIU, the Aguileras plan on going to Springfield with other local child care providers Tuesday to support Senate Bill 570.

"We've had some new parents looking for child care, and unfortunately because of the new state maximums right now they don't qualify. Just last week a woman with a 4-month-old baby came looking and was not aware of the state changes, and she was surprised she didn't qualify while working full time at minimum wage," said Jose Aguilera, who added that their child care business has a capacity for 12 children during the day and eight at night.

"I think it's a valuable program for allowing families to work without having to worry about where their kids are at," he said.

Category: In The News

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