CHICAGO— Children at the Sweet Pea Academy child care center in Chicago’s Gresham neighborhood read to Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza Tuesday, showing off the skills they learn in one of the state’s under-siege child care centers.


Child care providers told Mendoza they have trouble paying the bills because of the state’s under-funding of child care centers. The Rauner Administration lowered the income ceiling on parents for state-funded child care, forcing some parents to have to quit their jobs to stay home with their kids.


Tens of thousands fewer Illinois children attend child care than did in 2015. And the funding isn’t what it used to be, the providers told Mendoza.


Parent Randall Walters said the workers at Sweet Pea potty-train his son, keep him nourished and will be teaching him to read. “For them to have to worry about: Can they pay their car insurance this month? I believe they should be over-compensated rather than under-compensated," he said. 


Rosia Watson told Mendoza enrollment at her KPC Family Child Care home child care facility dropped from 11 to 3 after the eligibility changes and has not come back up. She had to let staff go and struggles to provide the same level of quality care with a reduced budget.


Mendoza pledged to do what she can to prioritize payments to child care centers even as her office deals with too little money coming in to pay the state’s bills.


“I think its tragic: We’re going into a 3rd year now without even a proposal for a balanced budget,” Mendoza told them. “The constitution of the state of Illinois, clearly, in Article 8, Section 2 says it's the Governor’s responsibility to present a balanced budget in which expenditures do not exceed revenues. And then after that … then the legislature has to act,” Mendoza said.


“I’m happy to see that there is some action being taken by the legislature. But, truthfully, it shouldn't even come to that. It’s not their responsibility to come up with a budget plan. It's the governor’s constitutional duty. He has abdicated that responsibility over to the legislature and that has to stop.”

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