The below op-ed from State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D - Chicago Heights) appeared in the Kankakee Daily Journal. 

Click on the graphic or click below to read the entire article.

Never Again | Sen. Toi HutchinsonImagine waking up one morning and receiving news that the one thing that would enable you to work or go to school was going to be taken away.

That was the reality for thousands of Illinois parents two years ago when the governor drastically cut eligibility to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). In one fell swoop, the governor eliminated access to safe and affordable child care for parents across the state.

I remember the almost immediate influx of calls and emails from child care providers both in my district and throughout the state who were worried about keeping their doors open through the end of the year. I also remember the unique set of circumstances the General Assembly was experiencing at the time, as it marked the beginning stages of an epic and historic budget impasse that no one could have convinced me at the time would go on as long as it did.

After marathon negotiations that lasted over three days, the governor had agreed to restore some of his cuts with a full restoration to come once a budget agreement was in place. On Monday, through a late afternoon press release with no fanfare, we received word that CCAP eligibility would be fully restored.

While I am fully supportive of the governor's policy decision, I can't help but feel saddened by this announcement. In the biggest political battle this state has ever seen, the smallest pawns were used for political gain. Under the cover of darkness with a single key stroke, people lost their jobs, child care centers closed, and parents had to place their children in questionable environments because they had nowhere else to go.

There isn't one legislator in Springfield who believes child care is a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike hail CCAP as a way to empower working families, offering a hand-up and not a hand-out and ensuring more people can work and obtain the training they need to become productive members of our society.

Before the governor's cuts, Illinois had the one of the highest quality child care programs in the country. How do we ensure CCAP is once again a nationally-recognized program for families?

Families and child care providers alike need stability and the assurance that the state will never again make drastic and immediate cuts based on political whims.

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