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Child care providers navigating a tough economy

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Low-income parents in Illinois were breathing a sigh of relief after lawmakers scrounged up money Wednesday so parents can keep subsidized child care. It was a bill being threatened by budget cuts.

On Saturday, Lt. Gov. Shelia Simon spoke to area child-care providers at an expo at the UIC Forum about how to keep money coming in during a tough economy.

Child care providers are trying to figure out how they could keep their business going during a tough economy, and, for some, how to start a new one all together.

"The issues of child care are greater than ever and the need for quality affordable, safe, secure, child-care is important, yet what we've seen all over the country is that budgets are limited," said Hedy Ratner, co-president of the Women's Business Development Center.

Many child care businesses in low-income areas, were threatened this week when the state developed a $73 million shortage in funding available for the Childcare Assistance Program and no one knew where the money would come from.

"I'm hopeful that we'll able to ensure a continued provision of state support for child care providers," said Cook County board Present Toni Preckwinkle.

Legislation passed this week calling for funding to be restored, which means tens of thousands of Illinois residents who benefit from childcare assistance will continue to get it. The legislation allows unspent general revenue funds to be used to pay for the program.

Simon insists there is another way -- through public pension reform.

"We are struggling...everywhere, but we have to identify what our priorities are and I think this group of people were a great expression of the importance of child care to keep everyone going," Simon said.

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