Child care workers decry threatened three-month delay in state payments, delay affects local YWCA

May 4, 2012

Editor’s note: May 2, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration said it has begun to delay payments to more than 40,000 child-care providers, warning that the $73 million shortage in anticipated revenues for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) could stall payments to providers for three months.

Locally, the YWCA of Rockford issued the following release May 2:

YWCA OF ROCKFORD TO NOTIFY OF INSUFFICIENT IDHS FUNDS FOR CHILD CARE

Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) directed the YWCA of Rockford and other Illinois Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, statewide, to notify parents and providers of insufficient state funding for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) through June 30, 2012.

The IDHS Child Care Assistance Program serves more than 150,000 children in community and home-based child care programs, enabling 85,000 families to continue employment and education. May 1, IDHS directed agencies to notify child care providers whose clients afford services through CCAP funds with the following statement:

The Department of Human Services regrets to inform you that there is not enough money in the state budget to pay for child care services for the rest of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. We have requested additional funds from the general assembly but to date we have not received any additional dollars. Without additional money, we can’t continue to pay for child care services.

Effective immediately, you should expect a delay in payment for April services. We will continue to receive and process bills on a first in, first out basis until funds are depleted. If additional money is made available, we will process bills in the order they were received. Without more money, bills for most of April services and all of May and June services will be held until July 2012. Payments will resume in July when the FY13 budget is available.

We are sorry for the hardship this creates for you.”

Agencies were also directed to inform clients with further comments or requesting additional information to contact their local legislative representatives.

A $73.6 million Supplemental Request Fund Bill is now been presented forward as a response to this issue. The bill will not be on the floor until approximately May 18.

Since 1891, the YWCA of Rockford has remained dedicated to its mission, “eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.” YWCA of Rockford provides programming and advocacies for more than 6,500 women, children and families each month who seek economic self-sufficiency through child care subsidy, job skills and computer training. Proceeds also assist with community racial justice work that promotes a clear commitment to equality.

For questions regarding the YWCA of Rockford events and programming, contact Laura Pagles, lpagles@ywca-rockford.org, or call (815) 316-6126.

In response to the state’s delay in child-care payments, Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, which represents more than 35,000 home child care providers, issued the following statement:

It’s hard to solve a state budget crisis by putting people out of work. Unfortunately, that’s precisely the predicament Illinois could put itself in, now that state officials have warned child care providers that they may not be paid for three months.

In the wake of yesterday’s announcement that the state has exhausted nearly all of its child care funding three months before the end of the fiscal year — leaving a $73 million shortfall that could incapacitate child care program for the foreseeable future — lawmakers should pass a supplemental appropriation to recover the money, before our already high unemployment rolls start to swell.

More than 35,000 home child care providers could see their businesses crippled by the funding shortage. These are not large commercial enterprises. They are small, independent providers who are already wrestling with fragile finances and simply cannot withstand a delay in their state payments. If they are forced to disrupt service, there will be a ripple effect of unemployment for the 85,000 working families who rely on the child care program to hold down a job and contribute the state’s ailing economy.

Let’s remember that the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is a key source of economic development, providing these 85,000 low-income families with a safe, secure learning environment for their children every day that allows them to go to work. If we allow funding for this program to dry up, we cripple the capacity for these parents to remain employed, which will only exacerbate the state’s budget woes both in the short and long run.

Even worse, the funding delay represents the first blow in a one-two punch that could cause the child care program in Illinois to collapse altogether. Gov. Quinn has proposed $85 million in cuts to CCAP in his FY 2013 budget. These reductions would reduce access to the program at a time when the state should be redoubling efforts to help people stay on the job and rebuild our economy.

We urge lawmakers to not only pass a supplemental appropriation to plug the CCAP funding gap in the current fiscal year, but to restore the money that the governor has threaten to purge from next year’s budget. Failing to do so will cost us even more in the future.

Posted May 4, 2012

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