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Illinois stiffs daycare providers, parents in limbo

4:54 PM, May 3, 2012   |    comments
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By Leisa Zigman I-Team Reporter

(KSDK) - Desperate pleas for help coming into the information center from daycare providers and parents throughout Illinois.

Wednesday state officials emailed the following urgent notice:
"The Department of Human Services regrets to inform you that there is not enough money in the state budget to pay for child care services for the rest of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. We have requested additional funds from the General Assembly but to date we have not received any additional dollars. Without additional money, we can't continue to pay for child care services. Effective immediately, you should expect a delay in payment for April services. We will continue to receive and process bills on a first in first out basis until funds are depleted. If additional money is made available, we will process bills in the order they were received. Without more money, bills for most of April services and all of May and June services will be held until July 2012. Payments will resume in July when the FY13 budget is available. We are sorry for the hardship this creates for you."

Daycare providers told the I-Team's Leisa Zigman that they can't last three months for the new fiscal year to begin. They say they are planning to lay people off or shut down.

Susan Sloat, who cares for 12 children, said the news was devastating.

A fellow daycare provider in Centralia, Illinois, Kari Schriefer said, "If we don't get paid, we can't survive. We will have to close and my kids will go, I don't know where? I really don't. How many kids to you have? I care for 37 children, 22 families."

According to Sessy Nyman, with the non-profit early education advocacy group Illinois Action for Children: "The state running out of child care funds will create a disaster for thousands of children and families. In a time when the two overriding conversations in our state are economic development/job readiness and education - by not paying child care - we will undermine both of those priorities..."

Jessica Berry is working and going to school to be a nurse. She has three children in daycare. Through tears she said, "If I don't have a day care, I don't have a job. I have children I have to support. I'm trying every day. It's hard to believe when you have all these things keep happening, you have to worry about your job and daycare closing and everything around you is closing and they are laying off so many people."

A spokesperson for Governor Pat Quinn says they are working with lawmakers and might have a bill introduced next week that could free up money from other areas, to cover the payments. That is little comfort to those I talked to today who say they don't have a lot of faith in their government.


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