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Early-education groups want Illinois lawmakers to reverse cuts

Early-education groups are meeting Friday night with Illinois lawmakers, trying to reverse cuts to childcare assistance.

The General Assembly trimmed $25 million for this current fiscal year from a fund that provides money for preschool programs. The state also lowered the income requirement parents need to qualify for childcare assistance.

Celena Roldan is the Executive Director of Erie Neighborhood House, a youth services organization. She said if parents work overtime or make extra money, that could put them above those income eligibility guidelines.

“A family of two that was able to make $27,000 dollars a year and be eligible for childcare assistance, now can only make $25,000 dollars a year to be eligible for childcare assistance,” Roldan said.

That means that low-income parents have to pay more for their co-pays, or simply may not qualify for help with child care expenses, she said. Advocates want to not only restore the funds, they want to increase the number of people who can get the benefits, too.

Otherwise, according to Roldan, parents have to look for childcare somewhere else.

“It means they have to find a relative to stay at home with them or they find other types of childcare that are not at the higher quality levels,” she said.

Roldan also said child care providers are struggling with low enrollment due to the cuts.

“We get paid per child that we serve, and if we don’t have children in our program, it impacts our budget as well to be able to stay sustainable,” Roldan said.

The Department of Human Services declined comment.

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