Inadequate funding of the state’s Child Care Program that was advanced in the budget signed by former Governor Pat Quinn has led to many concerns over how child care facilities will pay their bills this year. Senate Republicans have provided several answers to questions regarding the current status of this problem, as listed below.
How severe is the budget shortfall for the State Child Care Program?
Under the current budget, the Child Care Program administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) has less than one-half of the funding needed to fully operate the program as it is currently structured. The result is a $300 million shortfall in funds.
Is the Child Care program still making payments?
Yes. The Child Care program receives Federal money that pays for about half a month’s obligations with each deposit. So, the program is paying vouchers, but is increasingly running behind in those payments.
What is the process for paying existing day care centers?
DHS says child care vouchers are processed on a “first in, first out” basis and forwarded to the Comptroller for payment. Once received by the Comptroller’s Office, vouchers are paid within 2 days of receipt. It is a practice established by Comptroller Topinka and continues under Comptroller Munger.
Who is the “point person” in the Comptroller’s office and DHS that people can call for updates or payment status inquiries for day care centers?
The Comptroller’s Office contact for payment inquiries is Josh Potts (217) 685-9004. Questions for DHS can be addressed by the department liaison, Jennifer Aring (217) 557-1556.
Does Governor Rauner have a solution to narrow the program's funding gap?
In Governor Rauner's proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Budget the Child Care Assistance Program will be fully funded.