State budget woes hurting local day care centers

A decrease in income tax could mean less child care available in some communities.

When Illinois’s income tax decreased from 5% to 3.75% on January 1st, it put more money in the pockets of those who live in Illinois, but it created a $2 billion deficit for the state for the rest of the fiscal year.

State funded agencies such as schools and universities have already been warned of potential cuts.

Now a lot of day care centers are in jeopardy since the state ran out of money on December 31st, and is facing an estimated $300 million deficit.

For the last year and a half, Growing Patch Learning Center in Herrin has looked after more than two dozen kids each day while their parents went to work. However, owner Natalie Bilbrey says that will change after Friday.

“We just have to close our doors because we don’t have any funding,” said Natalie Bilbrey.

Growing Patch received as much as 90% of their funding from the state childcare assistance program, which ran out of money in December.

“We’re very fortunate that the Department of Human Services and the Child Care Bureau really worked together with the budget chief to find additional funds to cover the cost of all the payments that will be issued in January for all of the services in the month of December,” said Lori Longueville. “After January is when we really face our crisis.”

Childcare Resource and Referral Director Lori Longueville says federal money is still available, but more problems are on the horizon for 2,200 local families who rely on the program.

“If there are no additional funds there are going to have to be some really, really devastating cuts to families in our region,” said Longueville.

“We haven’t had the time to build up finances for our facility,” said Bilbrey. “Maybe other facilities who are more established will be able to get through this, but we won’t be able to.”

Bilbrey says that if the money becomes available she may be able to reopen Growing Patch in the future, but until then she’ll have to keep the doors closed.

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