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Dear neighbors,

The $300 million shortfall in the state's Child Care Assistance Program represents not just a budget crisis, but an immediate human crisis.

This morning, I chaired an appropriations committee hearing where we heard testimony from Jennifer Addington, a mother who was able to earn an associate's degree while her son attended a high-quality preschool because of CCAP and from Chandra Ankoor, a single mom of three who works four jobs to make ends meet and fears unemployment and homelessness if she loses her child care subsidy. We also heard that many child care centers and in-home providers will be forced to close their doors or drastically reduce services in a matter of months or even weeks with continued delays in state funding.

CCAP eligibility is limited to low-income parents who work or are enrolled in school. Failure to fill the funding gap will force many parents to quit their jobs or put their education on hold. It will increase reliance on other forms of government assistance for families no longer bringing in an income. It will also cause many children to lose access to high-quality early learning programs proven to get kids ready to learn by the time they start kindergarten.

I understand the human and economic consequences of losing access to child care, and I'm continuing to work to resolve this crisis as quickly as possible. There are funds we can move to the CCAP immediately, without borrowing or generating new revenue. I was disappointed that today, top Rauner budget advisers testified that they want the General Assembly to give the administration unprecedented emergency budgetary authority – the power to move money around in ways that could seriously undermine the legislature's role in the process and upset state government's balance of power – before they take action on child care assistance.

I'm participating in the ongoing negotiations in good faith, but I also think the Rauner administration owes the public an explanation of how it intends to keep low-income workers with children on the job. The possibility of passing narrowly tailored legislation to save CCAP while we have the broader budget conversation is not off the table, and it's one I'll continue to pursue. I certainly hope the Rauner administration does not intend to hold child care assistance hostage in the service of its overall agenda.

Please feel free to contact me through my website or at 773-769-1717 about this or any other legislative matter, and I also urge you to call the governor's office to voice your concerns.



Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Legislative District

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