Latino Policy Forum Early Childhood Advocacy Day 2012

Just as jobs, unemployment and the economy were identified as a “top issue for vote” by 47 percent of Latino voters in a recently-released poll , more than 40 local Latino parents will travel to Springfield to voice concerns about pending cuts to the Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which currently enables 85,000 families to work. Worried about rising child care copays and cuts that may eliminate the possibility of preschool for their children, parents will meet with state legislators on May 2 in an advocacy day organized by the Latino Policy Forum.

Under the “doomsday” budget proposed by Governor Quinn, families would have to make even less to qualify for CCAP and would pay more to access dramatically reduced services. The FY13 budget could increase the required co-pays up to 350 percent, lower the qualifying income threshold to 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (which means that a single mom with two kids must make less than $27,000 to qualify, for example), and threaten the quality of programs with a pay reduction for child care providers, along with other cuts. Currently, 160,000 Illinois children are served by community- and home-based child care.

“Access to reliable child care allows working families to do just that—to work,” said Martin Torres, senior policy analyst with the Latino Policy Forum. “Under the proposed budget, thousands of Illinois families that currently depend on child care—many of them Latino—will be forced to make tough decisions between being able to continue to work outside of their homes or caring for their young children. Illinois simply cannot afford put more families out of work: Our state budget can’t be balanced by cutting programs that help fill coffers.”

Parents will also call on legislators to restore funding to Illinois’ Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG), which funds vital early childhood education programs across the state. ECBG was cut by $17 million last year, adding thousands of children to the already-long list of 18,000 young learners that have been denied preschool based on a cumulative $55 million in cuts over the last three years.

“As Illinois continues to spiral in fiscal crisis, child care and early education are economic engines: In addition to enabling thousands of families to work outside the home, the early childhood education workforce itself is a significant jobs creator in Illinois, adding valuable employee, sales and individual tax to state coffers,” said Tracey Young, site director of the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, one of the many groups sending parents to Springfield with the Forum.

Research shows that academically-oriented child care and early childhood education lay solid cognitive foundations for Illinois’ youngest learners, which translate into reduced remedial education, criminal justice and health-related costs down the road. The University of Chicago’s Dr. James Heckman suggests that each dollar invested in such programs yields a $7 return.

Access to preschool and child care is particularly important to preserving the vitality of Illinois Latino community: 2010 Census data shows that Illinois’ Latino population has increased by nearly 500,000 since 2000, the largest growth of any group in the state. The youth of the Latino demographic means that Latinos now represent one-in-four Illinois children under the age of five and nearly one-in-five students in Illinois classrooms.

Parents traveling to Springfield with the Latino Policy Forum are affiliated with the following Latino-serving child care and early childhood education providers: Carole Robertson Center for Early Learning, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, El Hogar del Niño, El Valor, Erie Neighborhood House, Family Focus Nuestra Familia, Gads Hill Center, and Through a Child’s Eyes Pre-K.

About the Latino Policy Forum
The Latino Policy Forum is the only organization in the Chicago area that facilitates the involvement of Latinos at all levels of public decision-making. The Forum conducts analysis to inform, influence and lead. Its goals are to improve education outcomes, advocate for affordable housing, promote just immigration policies, and engage diverse sectors of the community, with an understanding that advancing Latinos advances a shared future. For more information, visit www.latinopolicyforum.org.

Recent Video

SHARE