081815DM0004Lake 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.

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Category: In The News

The Daily Herald - Aug. 3, 2015 | Original article

by Mick Zawislak

The Lake County Forest Preserve District could go to market with a portion of its general office building in Libertyville after a change in state law.

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday signed Senate Bill 791, which allows the district to lease or sell all or part of its former Motorola office building at 1899 W. Winchester Road that is not required for its purposes. The forest district is exempt from property taxes and the amendment to the Downstate Forest Preserve District Act will allow it to rent the space to a commercial enterprise that will pay property taxes.

"We may be in here for the very, very long term but if we want to change something in the future, now we have the possibility," said Ty Kovach, the district's executive director.

There have been no conversations with potential tenants, Kovach added, but the goal is to lease the second floor that comprises about 30,000 square feet.

"If we have a resource, we want to maximize the use for it. We went the legislative route so there were no questions," forest board President Ann Maine said.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a former county board and forest district member, sponsored the bill. She said estimates showed the district could save millions in operating costs and maintenance over 20 years.

"It's a really good savings," Bush said.

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Category: In The News

Senator Bush visits children at Dortha Rivers' daycareLake County News-Sun - July 17, 2015 | Original article

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.

The overall budget cut to CCAP includes three key elements: the elimination of care for children ages 6 and older; no future funding for relatives who stay home to watch children; and an increase in parent co-pays, 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.

In hopes of sending a message to legislators and to the governor about the importance of maintaining CCAP funding, the Rivers recently welcomed state Rep. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, to their home.

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Category: In The News

Lake County News-Sun - July 13, 2015 | Original article

By Dan Moran

In a ceremony that saw traffic on the busy roadway slowing down to pass just feet from the gathering near John Mogg Drive, Joey Dimock was remembered as a fun-loving boy who grew into a focused and accomplished young man.

"Spc. Dimock was not only an American hero, but he was dedicated to his faith and his community. Joey's service to the Wildwood Presbyterian Church was admirable for such a young man," said John Christian, chief of the Grayslake Fire Protection District, who has known Ellen Dimock and her family since she joined the district's board of trustees in 1999.

"I can say without any doubt that Joey was a well-rounded young man that left us way too early in life. I am still in awe of all that he accomplished in his short life," added Christian, noting that Dimock became an Eagle Scout with Wildwood-based Boy Scout Troop 672, graduated from Army Ranger school and served three tours in Afghanistan.

Dimock has been honored previously in the area with the naming of an exercise facility at Grayslake Fire Station 3 in 2010 and the dedication of a memorial at Wildwood's Willow Point Beach in October 2011. Ellen Dimock said Friday's honor was the result of a 2014 chance meeting with state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, and a discussion about what could be done to commemorate his life.

"The first time I met (Bush), she asked me if there was anything that I needed or wanted," Dimock said. "I said, 'Yes. It might sound a little strange, but I would love to name just a little bit of Route 120 after my son, Joey, and after all the other soldiers — for if you name it for one, you name it for all.'

"She knew of my loss," Dimock added, "and as we began to talk, we ended up in tears. As we said our goodbyes for the day, she said she would look into it and get back to me. And here we are today."

Bush was accompanied at the ceremony by state Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, who joined her in sponsoring the measure to dedicate the roadway. Bush also recalled the conversation with Dimock and how "she told me about the life (Joey Dimock) had lived and the work that he did."

"I learned pretty quickly about the strength of Ellen Dimock and her family and the love that she has for this community, this country and this world," added Bush, who asked the gathering to join her in a moment of silence before presenting the Dimock family with copies of the formal resolution dedicating the section of Route 120.

Just before state workers unveiled the roadside sign, Ellen Dimock said Friday's experience was one of many that gives her strength "short of having my son with me" as the years pass.

"We are given opportunities to share with you our story," she told the crowd, "and in doing so, Joey is with us. He is always with us."

Read the full story at the Lake County News-Sun.

Category: In The News

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