Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday reversed some of his most controversial restrictions to the state’s social service programs. Back in July, when the first-term governor’s eligibility changes to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) went into effect, many child care advocates across the state predicted that up to 90 percent of the families reliant on the program, which helps pay for daycare services, would be rendered ineligible.
Rauner’s reversal would undo many of what child care advocates and service recipients considered the most damaging changes. Eligibility for CCAP will be returned to 185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, or up to $3,098 a month in earnings for a single mother of two. The income threshold for a family of two will be raised from $664 to $2,151 a month. Background checks will no longer be required for childcare providers who are relatives of children.
“Parents were pressured to either choose between remaining employed or staying at home with their children,” according to a statement released by Child Care Advocates United in the wake of Rauner’s reversals.
“Without access to child care, many college students with children abandoned their higher education aspirations. Child care businesses closed their doors, laid-off staff, and excluded children from their facilities in record numbers.”
In August, Carolyn Newberry Schwartz, the executive director of the Oak Park-based Collaboration for Early Childhood, said that the cuts had “been devastating for families and children and it’s creating a lot of instability in the childcare world in terms of knowing what your business will look like.”
“I commend the governor for his decision to protect children and families in Illinois,” said state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (8th) in a statement about Rauner’s new direction.
“He put politics aside for the best interest of Illinois families who rely on the program for child care so they may go to work or school. [This] action shows that the governor recognizes the value of child care for Illinois’ families.”
In addition to restoring former CCAP requirements, Rauner also reversed course on restrictions that would have limited access to home-based and community care for elderly and disabled residents.