Report: Childcare Biggest Challenge for IL Families


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 of 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.

Farah Siddiqi

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