Legislative Update – Hearing Recap

Yesterday was a great day in Springfield! Several warriors for childcare centers were given the opportunity to testify on behalf of HB 3676 and specifically address the staffing crisis.

Testimony was provided from programs across the state in front of the Child Care Accessibility and Early Childhood Education Committee of the House of Representatives.

A special thank you to Chairwoman Mason for allowing us the opportunity to hold this hearing and share our testimony. Thank you to the committee members who attended and actively listened to our stories. Most importantly, thank you to Representative Benton for sponsoring this bill and being such a champion for our legislation.

Stories were shared about the real life struggles of the staffing crisis in this industry. We shared testimony of closed classrooms due to lack of staffing, extensive waiting lists of families who need to get back to work but cannot, and the inability to maintain day to day operations with the current regulations. Testimony of a program closing their doors at the end of the month due to lack of staffing brought tears to eyes as the reality of the hardship this places on owners, teachers, families and children really began to sick in.

The most important part of the hearing was being given the opportunity to face the opponents to this legislation head on. Representatives on behalf of Start Early and Illinois Action for Children provided testimony on their opposition to this legislation. This testimony spoke to their hesitations to “lessen the standard of care” in Illinois through changing qualification levels.

After both gentlemen shared their testimony, representatives from ILDOCC (Sarah and Dezaray) were able to join them at the table and have an open dialogue to address their concerns about changing teacher qualifications. We repeatedly recognized that our legislation does not aim to lower qualification levels; instead it offers an additional pathway to qualifications by prioritizing experience on the job. We shared examples of other industries who have made this change (including the public school sector) in order to solve their staffing issues.

It was clear through our discussion that the legislators in front of us really recognized the value in what ILDOCC was sharing and asked some hard hitting questions towards the opposition. It was specifically noted by one legislator that DCFS was not present for the hearing to provide testimony on why after 4 years of fighting this crisis has not been addressed by the Department via rule changes.

We have requested the audio recording from the hearing, and we are hoping to be able to share it with members when we have it.

We are thankful for the opportunity to advocate for so many licensed providers across the state, and we are hopeful these conversations put some additional pressure on the administration to make changes to current regulations and save our programs!

Please consider joining ILDOCC as a paid member today. We CANNOT continue this fight without you all!

Posted in