NORMAL, Ill. (WGLT) — Here’s something you don’t hear every day: Child care in Illinois just got more affordable.
Years after a sharp decline in enrollment, the state is now investing more money into the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which helps low and moderate-income families. Income eligibility limits are being relaxed, maximum co-pays are being lowered, and the state has earmarked more money to train and pay child care workers—a notoriously underpaid profession.
In all, the Illinois Department of Human Services is investing $32 million in new money into child care. It hopes to increase CCAP enrollment by 20,000 children by June 2020.
“We think it’s a worthwhile investment for the state,” IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou told WGLT’s Ryan Denham on The 21st show.
Child care experts across Illinois call these good first steps—in contrast to how neglected CCAP became in recent years. In July 2015, former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration significantly lowered the maximum income a family could make to qualify for CCAP. It only lasted a few months, but the program lost over 30,000 families as a result, said Maria Whelan, president and CEO for the Chicago-based Illinois Action for Children.
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