SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) issued the following statement after chairing a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing this morning on the urgent need to resolve a nearly $300 million funding shortfall in the Child Care Assistance Program:
Losing access to child care is not just a budget crisis; it's an urgent human and economic crisis. Failure to fill the funding gap will force many parents to quit their jobs or put their education on hold, increase reliance on other forms of government assistance and keep at-risk children out of high-quality early learning programs.
There are funds we can move to the Child Care Assistance Program immediately so providers that serve mostly low-income families won't be forced to close their doors due to delayed state payments. I was disappointed that today, top Rauner budget advisers testified they want the General Assembly to give the administration unprecedented emergency budgetary authority 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 parents 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.