Child Care For All Coalition Launched as New Report Shows Depth of Child Care Crisis
New report shows there are not enough child care spots available for half of Illinois children under six.
CHICAGO — As surging child care costs continue to push parents out of the labor market, Representative Delia Ramirez (IL-04) and Representative Lakesia Collins (IL-09) joined together with Illinois parents, teachers, and childcare providers at a press conference this morning to announce the grassroots Illinois Child Care for All Coalition and launched a statewide campaign to establish universal child care in Illinois.
A video of of the full press conference is available here.
The Illinois Child Care for All Coalition is made up of parents and child care workers, including members of the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois, the Chicago Teachers Union, Southsiders Organized for Unity & Liberation, Community Organizing & Family Issues, and more.
“If we ask ourselves every single day, ‘what about the children?,’ because if we ask ourselves ‘what about the children?’ then we will push and make it possible to have universal child care in Illinois,” said Representative Delia Ramirez (IL-04). “It is time for us to invest in what we believe to be the future of our country: our children.”
During the press conference, the Illinois Child Care for All Coalition also released a new report revealing the depth of the childcare crisis in Illinois, with data that show there are twice as many children ages 0-6 with all parents in the workforce as licensed child care slots (609,430 vs. 279,048 in 2020).
“Parents can’t afford to pay. Child care providers can’t afford to stay, and let me add, it doesn’t have to be this way,” said child care provider and SEIU Healthcare Illinois member Tosha Kelly. “If corporations paid what they owed, we could have free child care for all. And every child care worker could receive living wages and benefits.
The grassroots movement led by parents, families and child care providers from across the state demanded that Illinois elected officials invest in child care to ensure that Illinois families have access to the affordable care they deserve, and that child care workers are protected, respected and paid. Nearly 20% of early educators in Illinois live in poverty, with many making the equivalent of less than half of minimum wage.
“We knew that childcare providers were essential before the pandemic. We knew that the system was broken before the pandemic. And so it is our duty as lawmakers, as elected officials to make sure that we are investing our dollars – your dollars – into the right place. And that is into our kids and our working families,” said Representative Lakesia Collins (IL-09) and SEIU Healthcare Illinois member, sharing a personal story about her own struggles to afford childcare while working two jobs. “We have to make sure that we have universal child care. We have been fighting for this for years. The time is now.”
The new report also shows that child care capacity in Illinois was in decline before the pandemic, which accelerated the trend. The number of licensed child care slots declined each year from from 2016-2020, with 52,516 licensed child care slots lost in total. The decline in the number of license-exempt child care homes serving children in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) has been more rapid, a 65% decrease between 2012 and 2019
“I know, like so many other parents, that the cost of childcare forces difficult decisions for parents,” said Susanna Salgado, a parent and leader with Community Organizing & Family Issues. “That is why parents and providers must work together to ensure every child has the opportunity of early learning. Any kid can grow up to be special, any kid can be president, and therefore we must make sure every child has the opportunity of early learning.”
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