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Increasingly, the cost of child care is beyond what even middle-class Illinois families can afford, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute finds.

And Governor Rauner’s new child care cuts are making the situation even worse, shutting out 9 in 10 new applicants who would have previously qualified for child care assistance. Because of these cuts, thousands of parents no longer receive the assistance that enables them to work and provide for their families.

As the EPI report makes clear, quality child care is simply out of reach for many Illinois families:
  • A parent working full time at the state minimum wage needs to spend more than half of her income for quality child care for a 4-year-old. 
  • For an infant, that parent needs to spend nearly $4 out of every $5 earned. 
  • Annual quality child care for an infant is now more expensive than full-time, in-state public college tuition in Illinois.
  • In the Chicago area, a family squarely in the middle class with an infant and 4-year-old will spend about 29% of its income on quality child care.

These conclusions are based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ estimate that child care costing more than 10% of a family’s income is not affordable. On top of stagnant hourly pay and the failure of economic growth to trickle down to most Illinoisans, the governor’s cuts to child care are making it more difficult for working families.

Before Governor Rauner’s cuts, a parent with one child could earn up to $2,456 per month (about $14 an hour working 40 hours per week) and still be eligible for child care assistance. Now, a parent re-entering the workforce with one child loses child care assistance if she makes more than $664 per month, only about 20 hours per week at the state’s minimum wage.

The new EPI data shows the governor’s cuts to child care come at exactly the wrong time, given the economic realities so many working families face. Making child care less affordable for struggling, working families takes our state in the wrong direction.