Preparing young people for kindergarten from an early age is part of the mission of Maggie’s Place Childcare & Learning Center in Waukegan.
To educate many of them, the school receives a boost from the Illinois Child Care Assistance Program.
“It helps working parents who wouldn’t be able to put their kids in daycare without it,” said Maneshia Young, director of Maggie’s Place, where about 90% of families receive financial assistance for childcare from the State.
The Illinois Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) currently provides financial assistance to working or school-going parents throughout Illinois, giving parents and to their children.
Danette Connors, youth and family potential manager for the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, which works closely with the state to help administer CCAP, said more than 1,400 Waukegan families and more than 200 from North Chicago alone benefit from the program.
“We make sure families are aware of the program,” Connors said of the YWCA’s role. “Children benefit from a good environment. We want to make sure they have the additional resources they need. We want them to do well in school.
Young said she works with children aged from a few months to 12 years old. CCSI has brought more families from Waukegan, North Chicago and Beach Park to Maggie’s Place over the past few years.
“They learn by playing. They learn to get along. We want to make sure they’re ready for kindergarten,” Young said of the younger goal. “We will help them with their homework,” she added, referring to the older ones.
Mike Garner-Jones, acting bureau chief for the Illinois Department of Social Services’ Bureau of Subsidy Management, which administers CCAP, said families in a variety of circumstances are eligible.
“You have to be working, going to school, looking for work, or looking to enroll in school,” Garner-Jones said. “We have services for homeless families. There are different ways to meet our criteria.
Garner-Jones said family income must be at or below 225% of the federal poverty level. A household of two cannot earn more than $41,196 per year, a family of three cannot earn more than $51,816 per year, and a family of four cannot earn more than $62,436 per year. year.
Families must also pay part of the fees. Garner-Jones said there is a sliding scale based on income, but no one pays more than 7% of their income for child care. For people who are homeless or whose income is at or below the poverty line, the cost is $1.
Families participating in CCAP are accredited for one year. Garner-Jones said children must be under 13 or under 18 if they have special needs. As long as young people do not reach their 13th birthday, or 18th if there are special needs before the end of the year, they can be renewed for another year.
Although licensed child care centers and preschools are an important part of the program, Garner-Jones said private companies that provide child care, and even individuals like a grandparent, can provide child care through the CCAP bias.
Unlicensed child care providers must pass a background check, as well as health and safety requirements approved by the Ministry of Children and Family Services, such as knowing how to administer CPR, a said Garner-Jones.
Connors said women have left the workforce during the coronavirus pandemic in greater numbers than men. During this time, they focused on childcare. Now women are not returning to work as quickly as men. CCSI can help change that.
“We want to help women get back into the workforce,” Connors said. “Lake County has been hit harder (during the pandemic) because there are so many essential workers there.”
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