KU employees are no strangers to children’s advocacy – check out what they did to show their support for the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) last year. So when Illinois governor Bruce Rauner proposed his new budget, and that budget included cuts to the state subsidy program for early childhood education support, the Government Relations team sprang into action. The GR team works together with KU field leaders to help policymakers see the real benefits of investing in early education, making sure all KU centers and sites can continue to commit to the Service Value of making centers warm and welcoming places for families, regardless of their income level.
“Illinois is having a major budget crisis, as are several states, and must make some very difficult decisions,” said September Jones, Government Relations representative. “We want to be sure those cuts aren’t made to subsidy because we believe every family deserves access to high-quality care and education for their children.”
In late February, Voices for Illinois Children, an advocacy group, reached out to Chicago KinderCare leaders to ask for their assistance at an upcoming event in which local leaders would gather to address potential budget cuts for state subsidy assistance. Local KinderCare leaders selected Center Director Jennifer Robinson from the West Chicago KinderCare, to speak at the event and share how the proposed cuts would affect her center families. Jennifer in turn reached out to the KU Government Relations for assistance in preparing her speech (read more about the event here).
“Eighty-eight percent of the families at my center receive subsidies,” Jennifer said. “Without this financial assistance, parents at my center wouldn’t be able to give their children the boost that early childhood education provides. These are hardworking parents, and like all parents, they want the best for their children.”
She went on to speak about some of her families: a single father of five mostly school-age children who would have to rely on his oldest daughter to care for her younger siblings as the family wouldn’t be able to afford tuition at a center without subsidies, or a single mother balancing work, school, and raising two young children. Without the assistance she receives from state subsidies, this mother would have to choose between completing her education or taking on another job so she can afford care.
“These families are more than case studies,” Jennifer told local leaders. They’re part of my family. I love their children as I do my own and I feel their heartaches, struggles, and outrage.”
“We partner with field leadership to attend events such as this one because it is so important for KU to be a strong voices for children in every state,” said September. “Center directors work with families every day. They can be great messengers and we want to help them share their message with leaders at every level of government.”