Late last week, I was contacted by the editor of the opinion page of the Southern regarding my stance on legislation dealing with changes to the Child Care Assistance Program. CCAP, as it is known to many, provides low-income families with assistance to help bridge the financial gap when trying to afford childcare.
In that interview, I explained that I believed strongly in the program, but found it disingenuous to support funding levels we can’t afford. I also expressed my concern that the bill would prevent the administration from being able to take management steps in the case of a financial emergency.
Last year, CCAP came up $300 million short and Republicans and Democrats had to come together to find a solution to fund the program. At that time, I gladly took votes to shore up the CCAP program. Other worthy programs were swept and funds were diverted to fix the budget gap that Democratic leaders fully admitted were shorted on purpose. Our finances are even worse this year, and with the ongoing budget impasse things are only deteriorating further.
As a mother, I don’t take this issue lightly. While raising my young family, my husband and I had to work on a tight budget, and often sacrificed sleep and career opportunities as we swapped schedules. Often times, we couldn’t afford child care. As State Representative I have become very familiar with this program because daycare providers and the working families that depend on CCAP have done a tremendous job of organizing and getting their message to me.
This was a complicated issue, one I worked on with my colleagues behind the scenes to urge the Governor to strike a compromise. Those efforts yielded a commitment to change the emergency rules implemented by the administration, and the income requirements will be raised close to the level they were at previously. This compromise will open the program back up to thousands of families that were facing the prospect of the loss of child care assistance.
I did not vote yes on SB 570, as I was implored to do. The Southern article was noted, but the bill was ultimately unnecessary. A compromise has been reached and the program will once again be available to thousands of working families. Despite this compromise, the legislation was voted on anyways in what can only be described as a cynical display of the very reason we are in this mess, an unwillingness to compromise and an incessant desire to score political points.
Yesterday was a step in the right direction, and the Governor showed a strong willingness to compromise. Hopefully this progress is not met with the same cynicism moving forward in the Illinois House; Illinois can’t afford it.