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Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Republicans have put Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress; state legislatures are missing people from working-class jobs, and FDA has advice for formulating the next COVID vaccine for a new strain.

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House Republicans vote to hold AG Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The Senate battles it out over federal protections for in vitro fertilization. North Dakota becomes the first state to impose an age cutoff to run for Congress.

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Rural America's job growth is up, but still hasn't recovered from the pandemic, about one in five rural Americans lives in a town with a prison, rural women seeking birth control have a new option, and dark skies beckon as summer arrives.

Report: Childcare Biggest Challenge for IL Families

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Wednesday, June 14, 2023   

Having access to reliable, affordable, high-quality child care benefits both children and adults, but a new report said it is not the norm for families in Illinois, or nationally.

The new Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Illinois 19th among states for overall child well-being, and the report found the cost and shortage of child care is affecting families and the economy.

In Illinois, day care for a toddler can take 11% of a couple's median income, and up to 40% of a single parent's income.

Katelyn Jones, vice president of policy, research and evaluation at the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, said it is estimated the state loses $4.9 billion a year, given the current child care challenges.

"Parents are forced to miss, quit or scale back work to take care of their children," Jones explained.

The report showed the child care workforce dropped by more than a third in the first few months of the pandemic, and has not yet fully rebounded. Low pay for child care workers and burnout are among the challenges.

Jones pointed out Illinoisans can help by sharing their stories with policymakers, through events like the YWCA's Advocacy Days. She emphasized local employers, lawmakers, and Congress all have roles to play.

"We're also focused on Congress reauthorizing and strengthening the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, and increasing funding for public pre-Kindergarten and Head Start," Jones outlined. "I think those are really important actions, especially to happen at the federal level."

The block grants partially offset child care costs for some lower-income parents. The Kids Count rankings are a combination of factors, from economic well-being and education, to health and family and community supports. Illinois ranked highest this year in Education, at eighth among the states, and lowest in the category of Family and Community, at 26th.

Disclosure: The Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, and Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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