State's New Policy Supported by $74 Million in ARRA Funding
Governor Pat Quinn and Michelle Saddler, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), today announced new policy and administrative changes designed to provide greater assistance to low-income working parents struggling to keep their jobs while coping with child care needs.
"We must ensure our families have affordable, quality child care," said Governor Quinn. "These changes will help accomplish that important task and make life more manageable for parents and their children."
The changes, which were unveiled at El Valor in Pilsen Little Village, are being implemented because Illinois has received $74 million in one-time child care funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The funds will invest in low-income working families with young children who are fighting to keep their jobs.
The ARRA funds for child care will help parents:
- Reduce the share of their cost, or co-payment, by 15 percent. Families are required to share in the cost of care and are assessed a fee or co-payment based on family size, income and number of children in care;
- Extend time allowed for job search from 30 to 90 days for currently enrolled families. If families enrolled in the Child Care program lose their job, they currently get 30 days to look for another position. This change expands the job search timeframe to 90 days;
- Keep enrollment in the IDHS Child Care Assistance Program open for families needing child care to help avoid the need for a waiting list. The ARRA funds will allow the state to serve more families despite the tight state budget;
- Help to improve quality of programs caring for children from birth to the age of three by enabling IDHS to create a statewide network of Infant Toddler Specialists.
"Good child care plays a crucial role in the long term economic success of families," said Secretary Saddler. "These ARRA funds will help parents keep their jobs and continue to provide for their families during these tough economic times."
The ARRA funds will be received as a supplemental allocation to the IDHS federal Child Care and Development Fund and will run through September of 2011.
The IDHS Child Care Assistance Program provides more than 90,000 low-income, working families with access to quality, affordable child care that allows them to continue working and contributes to the healthy, emotional and social development of the child. Families are required to cost-share on a sliding scale based on family size, income and number of children in care.