In Bellwood, Lightford Blasts Rauner’s Veto of Childcare Bill

Lightford Bellwood press conference

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford with childcare providers and parents during a press conference on Monday outside of Sun Children Day Care in Bellwood. | Provided

Monday, August 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) hosted a press conference outside of Sun Children Day Care, 3903 Adams St. in Bellwood, today to blast Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Aug. 26 veto of a bill that would’ve expanded affordable childcare to more families throughout the state.

Senate Bill 730, which was voted on by large majorities in the Illinois House and Senate, would have expanded the Child Care Assistance Program to include families with incomes ranging from 185 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level within two years.

Last year, Rauner changed the monthly income requirements for CCAP eligible families from up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level to up to 50 percent of that level. Later on, he lifted that minimum income threshold to 162 percent of the poverty level.

According to estimates by SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Rauner’s original changes to CCAP eligibility may have forced 55,000 children out of the assistance program. SB 730, they argued, would’ve allowed an estimated 52,000 additional children to benefit from the program.

Explaining his veto, the governor said that SB 730 “irresponsibly imposes an approximately 40 [percent] increase in the overall size of the program without any provision to fund such a broad enlargement.”

During her Aug. 29 press conference, however, Lightford and others said that the governor’s veto spells financial disaster for low-income residents, particularly women and children. SEIU officials noted that women comprise 99 percent of the childcare provider workforce and 94 percent of parents who participate in the CCAP program.

 “Parents in Illinois are paying more per year for infant care than a year of rent or college tuition. Starving the Child Care Assistance Program decreases the pay for providers and increases already high costs for parents,” said Senator Lightford, the SB 730’s chief sponsor. “This legislation creates jobs, and more importantly, creates a path to the middle class for many families.”

“The Child Care Assistance Program is a program that serves and employs women, making it possible for mothers to support their families and to contribute to the local economy,” said childcare provider Faith Arnold, who hosted the event at Sun Children, which she operates out of her Bellwood home.

“Bruce Rauner’s cuts to CCAP are forcing women out of school, out of work, and off the path to greater earnings and advancement,” she said.

Tenai Woods, whose son goes to Sun Children, said she lost her childcare for two months and had to decrease her hours at a local nonprofit just so she could keep her CCAP eligibility.

“Without child care, I can’t work,” she said. “I don’t want to cut back my hours, but without child care, how can I work and support my family?” VFP

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