childcare

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Child care facilities will be able to operate again once Illinois enters the third phase of its reopening plan, which is expected Friday. 

Michelle McAnarney said she realized her daughter Darby was different than other children soon after she was born.

"She was always a little delayed physically," said McAnarney, a Springfield resident. Darby was well over a year old when she started walking, but "once she could walk, I'm not even joking the next day she was running," she said.

If McAnarney and her husband took Darby, who is now four years old, to loud or chaotic places, she'd become overwhelmed -- tip a plate over in a restaurant, throw a tantrum in a grocery store -- in an attempt to exit the situation.

Amanda Vinicky

Low-income, working parents are fighting to once again get help from the state for childcare.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Illinois has more jobs than qualified workers, a group of business leaders say.

To bridge that gap, Sean Noble of ReadyNation says Illinois needs to improve its education system, primarily by expanding early childhood education.

"Current education and labor market trends indicate the Illinois workforce faces an increasingly serious skills gap," Noble said. "That's the gap between two important numbers: job postings and the workers who are skilled enough to fill those positions."

Lawmakers are scheduled to consider a new plan introduced by House Speaker Michael Madigan to end weeks of negotiations over plugging a $1.6 billion hole in this year's state budget.

Tennessee Department of Human Services

Gaps in the current year's budget mean that the state has stopped paying for its Child Care Assistance Program, and day care providers are worried about more issues in the future.

The program that provides assistance for parents to pay for child care could experience more financial problems if Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposals become next year's budget.

Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, says cutting government assistance to day care has negative consequences in other areas.

childcarecenter.us

Gov. Bruce Rauner has consistently said he's waiting to give details on his plans for Illinois' finances until his budget address, on February 18th. But decisions by previous lawmakers may force him to make closely-watched decisions sooner.

Illinois has a program that helps low-income parents pay for day-care. But -- because the previous General Assembly cut funding for it by millions from the current state budget - state money for has run out.

That's alarming for advocates like Emily Miller, who is with Voices for Illinois Children.

Cheryl Harvey has been taking care of her seven grandsons since they were born. The 60-year-old Chicagoan is the only parent Corwin, Cameron, Christian, Cole, Kimani, Malik and Branden have known. The oldest is 18 and preparing for college. The youngest is 21 months and showing symptoms of the terrible twos.