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State plans on spending extra $50 million on child care program

DHS said now that a budget is in place, the income criteria to qualify for the program will go back to its original rate.

The Child Care Assistance Program provides low-income working families with access to child care.

During the budget impasse, the Department of Human Services made cuts to the program.

DHS said now that a budget is in place, the income criteria to qualify for the program will go back to its original rate.

Tiffany Mathis is the Director of Education at Midwest Technical Institute. She was also a single parent.

Mathis used the Child Care Assistance Program when her daughter was young to help pay for child care.

“Although I'm very determined in life to succeed and be awesome, I think that affording child care is something I would not have been able to do without that program to act as a supplement to my income," Mathis said.

The Department of Human Services lowered the eligibility criteria for the program in November 2015 to cut costs.

“From my research, about 30,000 children are receiving less care through the program since June of 2015 due to the guideline changes," said Stephanie Neuman, the owner and director of Kountry Kids Learning Center.

Now the criteria will go back to its original rate.

To put things into perspective, under the current criteria a family of four qualifies for the program if they make under $39,852 a year.

By going back to the original rate, a family of four making under $45,510 will qualify.

“Also, we now are providing the benefit again to pursuing an education,” said James Dimas, the secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services. “That was another thing we had to discontinue during the budget impasse.”

Dimas said it'll take a few weeks to get the eligibility criteria changed.

He said the department estimated it'll cost the state an extra $50 million a year to raise the eligibility criteria.

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