CNE hosts Child Care Matters policy forum
On Thursday, Feb. 26, Childcare Network of Evanston called together community members to voice a battle cry: “Child Care Matters.”
The evening included a policy forum featuring State Sen. Daniel Biss, Sessy Nyman from Illinois Action for Children, child care expert Jeanna Capito, and a Q&A with local residents and child care providers.
The forum was held in response to the State’s recent budget proposal and cuts made to the Child Care Assistance Program, which will affect Illinois families who depend on child care to keep their jobs, make ends meet, and provide a solid educational foundation for their children.
“We are united in our passion for what we do, and in partnership, we know we can continue to change the early childhood landscape for the better,” Andrea Densham, executive director for CNE said. “We are standing at a unique moment for early childhood education.”
Densham added that 85% of voters think “ensuring children get a strong start” should be a top national priority.
“At the same time, our state, national, and local budgets are cutting or flat-lining early childhood education funding,” she said. “We have a disconnect between what we know works and what we fund.”
Biss served as a liason on the State budget process and its history in Illinois.
“The [Child Care Assistance Program] is so underfunded that it’s already run out of money,” Biss said. “That’s catastrophic.”
Many audience members applauded his honesty and candor during the Q&A session, citing that while it wasn’t easy to hear, it was good to hear the truth.
“You have to make the decision to stand and fight or watch and hope,” Biss said. “And it’s the most important decision we’ll make in this.”
Nyman, the policy and strategic partnerships vice president of IAFC, encouraged audience members to fight for “grassroots movements” that are effective when people refused to be intimidated.
On Feb. 19, IAFC held a rally in Springfield, where about 400 people advocated for child care.
“We wanted to get folks together to get that energy, to know they are in this fight together,” Nyman said.
Rep. Robyn Gabel, who was unable to attend the forum, sent along a quote to CNE expressing why she believes child care is important.
“Quality child care services Illinois families in two ways,” Gabel said in an email. “It gives a solid social/educational foundation to our children and allows both parents to participate in the workforce which provides the opportunity to improve their lives.”
Studies show that for every $1 invested in child care, there is a $2.13 economic return.
To send a letter to elected officials supporting child care funding in Illinois, visit http://bit.ly/CNELetter