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Families who are beginning to work their way out of poverty may be still struggling to fully support their families, but their income may cross a line where they no longer qualify for government assistance. This “funding cliff” can result in those families falling back into poverty.

The Childcare Network of Evanston (CNE) is attempting to ensure that those families can continue on their upward journey by providing support through its early learning community hub model. United Way of Metropolitan Chicago (UWMC) has agreed to fund CNE a total of $140,000 over a two-year period.

The funds will be dedicated to expanding CNE’s home visiting services to children in households who live just above the federal poverty level but are not yet financially stable.

These services will include: weekly home visits that provide educational activities for children; peer groups for parents; connection to medical services through Erie Family Health Center; linkage to career services through National Able Network; coordination with youth serving organizations to ensure community schools are linked to early learning support; and transition planning for children entering kindergarten through School Districts.

“The short and long-term impact of quality early learning experiences for children is well documented, and United Way is pleased to recognize CNE’s work in this area,” said Marcia McMahon, regional chief professional officer at United Way North-Northwest.

“Their consistent results, holistic approach to the family and collaboration with other service providers make them an ideal partner in United Way’s education strategy,” she added.

“We believe this work has the potential to change the trajectory of families living in poverty,” said Andrea Densham, CNE’s executive director.

“We are committed to removing barriers to opportunities for our youngest children by applying the best new research to evidence-based programs that ensure all children have everything they need to succeed,” Ms. Densham added.

The families served will be those in most need, including those who have experienced homelessness, speak a home language other than English, have children with signs of developmental delays, include parents and/or children who have dropped out of school, and those with insufficient family income.

“This funding will bridge a critical gap in services,” Ms. Densham said.

“When families rise above the federal poverty level, much support such as Head Start, Childcare Assistance Program and other subsidies drops off dramatically. UWMC funding will allow CNE to build
a bridge for these families across the
subsidy cliff,” she added.

CNE has been offering home visiting in the North Suburbs for more than 20 years. CNE’s current home visiting is supported by Early Head Start, and is specifically designated for prenatal moms and/or parents with children birth to age 3.

Through this program, a trained educator provides weekly home visits of no less than 90 minutes each to help parents support their child’s early health and developmental needs.

Many Working Families Cut Off From Childcare Assistance

“The child care crisis continues to mount into epic proportions,” says Child Care Advocates United in a press release. The Department of Human Services (DHS) published new guidelines for working families, leaving more than 90% ineligible to qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Families of two (including the child) that qualified for childcare assistance under the old guidelines could earn up to $2,456 per month. Under the new guidelines, families of two can only earn $664 per month to qualify for child care assistance. This change leaves many working families faced with the decision, “Will I have to quit my job to stay home with my children?”