Daycare Centers Are the Latest Casualty in the War on the Poor

The budget crisis in Illinois has taken an outsized toll on kids in low-income families.

In These Times and Kartemquin Films May 30, 2017

Illinois' budget crisis has led to child care services being severely cut across the state.

The Illi­nois bud­get cri­sis has dec­i­mat­ed child care ser­vices across the state. In July 2015, after a bud­get failed to pass, Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Bruce Rauner made an emer­gency rule lim­it­ing eli­gi­bil­i­ty for the Child Care Assis­tance Pro­gram. Income guide­lines for work­ing fam­i­lies changed from 185 per­cent of the pover­ty lev­el to 50 per­cent, elim­i­nat­ing access to 90 per­cent of families. 

"We have so many people in our past who fought to make sure we live better than they did. And yet, in so many ways we’re nowhere."

While pub­lic out­cry helped raise eli­gi­bil­i­ty guide­lines, at least 10,000 pre­vi­ous­ly eli­gi­ble chil­dren remain shut out of the pro­gram. This episode of Strand­ed by the State fol­lows a child care cen­ter in East St. Louis to tell the story. 

We have so many peo­ple in our past who fought to make sure we live bet­ter than they did,” says Bren­da Crisp, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Uni-Pres Kinder­cot­tage. And yet, in so many ways we’re nowhere.” 

Illi­nois has not passed a real bud­get in near­ly two years, the first state to go that long with­out a bud­get since the Great Depres­sion. Repub­li­can Gov. Bruce Rauner has refused to sign off on any bud­get that doesn’t also cur­tail col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights, lead­ing to a show­down with the state’s Democrats. 

Strand­ed by the State—an 8‑part video series pro­duced in part­ner­ship with Kartemquin Films — fol­lows the fam­i­lies, work­ers and stu­dents liv­ing through these de fac­to bud­get cuts, show­ing the ways they dete­ri­o­rate the fab­ric of Illi­nois com­mu­ni­ties. The series incor­po­rates data con­nect­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Illi­nois to long-term trends of aus­ter­i­ty nation­wide, includ­ing the stag­ger­ing cuts pro­posed in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s first budget.

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