Illinois Ranks Last In Child Care Assistance Payments

Oct 29, 2015

Illinois fares poorly in a recent national report looking at access to child care assistance. In fact, the state ranks dead last after after cuts were made in July to drastically reduce maximum income levels for families to qualify. The report, by the Washington, D.C.-based National Women’s Policy Center, compared policies between the states as well as the District of Columbia.

As the report notes, Illinois, which served all eligible families that applied as of February 2015, froze intake for nearly all families with incomes above 50 percent of the 2015 federal poverty level ($10,056 a year for a family of three) as of July.

In September, lawmaker missed by one vote a chance to overturn Gov. Bruce Rauner’s action, but another vote is expected in November.

In fact, 90 percent of parents throughout the state who tried to sign up after July 1 are no longer eligible, according to estimates of lawmakers and advocates.

The state assistance program was created after the 1996 federal Welfare-to-Work initiative. Prior to July 1, it had served families that earned up to 185 percent of the federal poverty line, which would be $51,634 for a family of five or $29,101 for a parent and child. Under the new emergency rules enacted by the administration, a single parent with one child earning more than $7,968 would not qualify.

A spokesman for Gov. Bruce Rauner responded in a email when we sought comment on the report: "One of the governor's first actions in office was to save child care from the deliberate underfunding by the Democratic majority in the last fiscal year, and as far as the governor is concerned, the state's fiscal crisis should have been solved in May. He continues to work with the legislature to pass structural reforms to grow the economy and right the state's fiscal ship. Changes were made to CCAP to responsibly manage the state's finances after the Democratic majority passed a budget that was $4 million in the hole."

To read the report, go to http://www.nwlc.org/resource/building-blocks-state-child-care-assistance-policies-2015.