Do you remember back in May of 2021 when DCFS proposed massive rule changes for our industry? We took advantage of the period for public comment by encouraging ILDOCC members to submit comments to the rules, while our organization submitted a 3-page letter in response to these changes, and we also took time to sit down and share our concerns with every legislator that sits on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). Our message was clear: without significant relief to our long-term staffing crisis, it made no sense to expect our industry to take on more regulations that would increase the damage to our industry’s important contribution to working class families and their ability to work and support their families.
The official rulemaking process in Illinois allows for this period of public comment and requires a response from the agency, and a second publication of rules prior to their presentation to JCAR for formal adoption. For the past year, there had been no response to the concerns we raised either formally or informally.
Fast forward to last week – at the urging of our legislative champions, ILDOCC met with representatives of DCFS and DHS to discuss our desire to codify the 3-hour assistant rule and change the language requiring director qualified staff be present during the first and last hour of the day. We were hopeful that this meeting would allow us to make meaningful progress toward improving the staffing crisis.
During the meeting, DCFS indicated that they expected to finally respond and issue a second publication of those rules, which would attempt to address some of our concerns, in in a matter of days. We also received a commitment that negotiations on these issues with our organization would continue later this month.
To our surprise, we have since learned from JCAR that the deadline for the agency to issue new rules has now passed. This means that the rules we saw and responded to last year are no longer in play. Any attempt to pass new rules must now effectively start over. This outcome is a testament to your hard work and passionate efforts to make your stories heard to the policymakers in Springfield. So pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
But that’s not all. In our recent conversations, we have learned that new players in the administration, particularly at the Department of Human Services (DHS) will be taking an expanded role in policy development related to our industry. This offers us a new avenue for our advocacy efforts that we intend to use to make our voices heard!
Make no mistake, this is a huge win for ILDOCC and for childcare center directors and owners. They are hearing us! We are speaking up, and we have stopped additional stress on our industry through added rule changes when we barely have enough staff to keep doors open. But we cannot rest. Continued progress relies on our ability and willingness to speak out on our own behalf to policymakers at every level. That is what ILDOCC intends to do, and we will continue to rely on your for help.
It goes without saying that we are all still struggling in the trenches with this staffing crisis, but today we are going to take the victory. We would like to extend a special thank you to our lobbying team in Springfield who have spent countless hours working on this for us and help us devise and execute the strategies to help protect our industry. We would also like to say thank you to all our members who have spent time calling and emailing their senators and representatives to make sure they know what is happening in our industry. That information truly helped prevent these rule changes from happening.
LETS CELEBRATE THE WIN TODAY! TOMORROW WE’LL BE UP EARLY FIGHTING FOR YOU AGAIN!