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Advocacy Center

An important component of SPARK is keeping our community and families informed of current policy and advocacy efforts concerning Early Childhood.  To ensure that this goal is met, SPARK works in partnership with Illinois Action for Children, a leading advocacy organization dedicated to advancing legislative and administrative policies that support families, children, and early care and education.

We encourage Aurora leaders, educators, parents and stakeholders to “take action” by visiting  IL Action for Children’s website and subscribe to their advocacy alerts to stay informed.

#GetItDoneIL launches RIGHT NOW!

As you know by now, the state of Illinois still does not have a budget for the fiscal year that is set to end just days from now on June 30th – much less a budget for the fiscal year that begins in just a few days.

With that in mind, join the “Get it Done IL” (#GetItDoneIL) campaign to end the budget impasse before June 30th!

Take Action:

  1. JOIN the #GetItDoneIL Facebook page at
  2. Share the digital banner seen above – make it your profile pic, tell people about #GetItDoneIL, spread the word.
  3. Take pictures of yourself using this #GetItDoneIL sign and tag your legislators/state elected officials on social media!

This campaign is not about choosing sides in the seemingly never-ending debate in Springfield. #GetItDoneIL is about coming together and unifying as citizens of this state, to demand that our elected officials do the same by passing and enacting a state budget. The consequences of inaction – ours and theirs – are simply too great to ignore.

Every state legislator and state-level elected official needs to know just how many people want and need them to get this job done!

For more state budget and policy updates, don’t forget to join us for our Public Policy Caucus on June 28th!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Registration opens at 9:30 a.m.

Heartland Community College
1500 West Raab Road
Community Commons Building – Room 1406-1407
Normal, Illinois

Other topics on the agenda include Early Intervention, suspension and expulsion policies, workforce development, and more!

Advanced registration is required. Click here to register online or contact the Public Policy and Advocacy team by emailing or by calling (773) 564-8843. Please include your name, organization, address and telephone number when registering. The $15 registration fee includes lunch and is payable in advance or at the door.


July 24, 2015 from Illinois Action for Children

Child Care Update

Beggining July 1st, 2015, Governor Rauner instituted drastic programmatic changes to the Child Care Assistance Program that threaten access for many low-income families. These changes include:

  1. Increase Parent Co-pays (increases range from $10-$58 for a family)
  2. Freeze intake for all ages,
  3. Require background checks for relatives who care for children, and
  4. Link access to child care subsidies to claims filed by a parent for child support

By increasing parent co-payments, stopping Child Care Assistance Program enrollment for new applicants, requiring comprehensive background checks on relative caregivers and linking child care to child support, it is clear the Governor  does not understand the realities of low-income families in Illinois and the devastating impact these changes will have on their lives and all our economy.

NOTE: under Federal law, four priority populations must continue to have access to child care even if the state institutes an intake freeze and denies cases for the general population. Those priority categories are:

  1. TANF recipients
  2. Teen Parents
  3. Children with special needs
  4. Families at 50% of the Federal Poverty Level ($838/month for a family of 3; $1,011/month for a family of 4.)

The intake freeze will force the state to deny approximately 90% of new applicants who otherewise meet the required income threshold and work requirement child care services through CCAP.  These changes are not connected to the state budget and are in effect until further notice. 

Share Your Story:  How are the Governor Rauner Cuts to Child Care Assistance Program Affecting You?

Please tell us how these changes to CCAP are impacting you and the families you serve!  Learn more about how you can contact your legislators and the Governor to urge them to stop these cuts! Click for here for a fact sheet!

Take our survey!  Share Your Story!

For parents and families: Survey

For providers: Survey

Update on the State Budget

There has been little progress made on passing legislation to fund Illinois’s state services and programs for FY 2016 that began July 1st.   On Wednesday, July 15th, the Senate passed a one-month temporary budget that includes funding for child care and state employees.  The legislation passed the House last week and will now be sent to the Governor.  The Governor can either veto or sign the legislation.  If the Governor signs the bill, Illinois will have funding for programs for one-month and state employees can be paid.  If he vetoes the bill, programs and state employees will likely face further funding issues.

Hear the Latest on Child Care and the State Budget

Join Illinois Action for Children on Tuesday, July 28th at 1:00 p.m. for a webinar on the changes to the Child Care Assistance Program and the latest developments on the Illinois state budget.

The Child Care Assistance Program underwent significant programmatic changes effective July 1, 2015. Learn about the ways you can share how these changes are impacting you and how to advocate against these changes. Don't miss out on this important call.

Recent Early Care and Education Report

Job Hours and Schedules: Implications for State Child Care and Development Fund Policies
Finding child care during that matches a parent’s job schedule is often a difficult task. Different states, including Illinois, has begun to implement strict verification of job scheduling and hours as well matching children’s child care hours precisely to parents’ work hours. This has caused low CCAP retention in several states due to the fact that many CCAP parents have nonstandard work schedules.

This research brief discusses how recent trends related to job schedules and subsidy policies provide an opportunity for states to make changes in eligibility and verification policies. The brief also explores state policy choices that could improve the receipt and retention of child care assistance for low-income families.

Provider Spotlight - Ileana Gonzalez

Name: Ileana Gonzalez
Title: Director
Business name: Busy Bees Bilingual Learning Academy
Bio: Busy Bees Bilingual Learning Academy is a family child care located on the South Side of Chicago.  Busy Bees Bilingual Learning Academy has been helping children and families since 2005 and now provides services to 20 children. 

1. Tell the readers about some of the advocacy work that you have done recently or in the past? During this year’s budget crisis, I was able to organize my assistant, fellow child care providers, and parents to Illinois Action for Children’s rally in Springfield.  At the rally, we voiced the need to pass a budget supplemental for the Child Care Assistance Program. The children of Busy Bees also played an active role in voicing their opinion. We held a small march with the children, to Representative André M. Thapedi’s office where we left latch keys at his office as part of the March Day of Action.  The children had a fantastic time.

2. What were the issues you were addressing in your advocacy work? What were you hoping to change through advocacy? During the fiscal crisis, we were advocating our state legislators to let them know the importance of early education.  We continue to ask legislators to support early care and education by urging them to find a new source of revenue and prevent programmatic changes to child care.

3. Your work with Illinois Action for Children has been instrumental in helping us advance our policy agenda. Why and how did you become involved with us? Most importantly, I wanted to protect the children. I also felt that there’s a need to reach more Spanish speakers on the issues concerning early care and education policy.  I would like to be a voice that will help reach more people in the fight to support early care an education.

Actualización del Cuidado de Niño

Comenzando el 1ro de Julio del 2015, el Gobernador Rauner instituyó cambios programáticos drásticos al Programa de Asistencia Financiera para el Cuidado de Niño que amenazan el acceso a muchas familias de bajos ingresos. Estos cambios incluyen:

  1. Aumentar los copagos de padres (los aumentos van desde $10-$58 por una familia),
  2. Congelar admisión para todas las edades,
  3. Revisiones de antecedentes requeridas para familiares que cuidan de los niños, y
  4. Conectar el acceso de subsidios para el cuidado de niño a reclamos puestos por un padre para manutención infantil

Al aumentar los copagos de padres, suspender las registraciones a nuevos solicitantes para el Programa de Asistencia Financiera para el Cuidado de Niño, requerir reviciones de antecedentes comprensivas a familiares que cuidan de niños y conectar cuidado de niño con manutención infantil, está claro que el Gobernador no entiende las realidades de las familias de bajos ingresos en Illinois y el impacto devastador que estos cambios van a tener en sus vidas y en toda nuestra economía.          

NOTE: bajo ley federal, cuatro poblaciones prioritarias deben continuar teniendo acceso a cuidado de niño aun si el estado instituye un congelamiento de admisión y niega casos para la población general. Esas categorías de prioridad son:

  1. Beneficiarios del Programa de Asistencia Temporal Para Familias Necesitadas (TANF)
  2. Padres adolescentes
  3. Niños con necesidades especiales
  4. Familias al 50% del nivel federal de pobreza ($838/mes para una familia de 3; $1,011/mes para una familia de 4.)

El congelamiento de admisión forzará al estado a rechazar aproximadamente 90% de nuevos solicitantes que de otra manera son elegibles para servicios de cuidado de niño por medio de CCAP. Estos cambios no están conectados al presupuesto del estado y están en efecto hasta próximo aviso.

Comparta su Historia: Como es que los Recortes del Gobernador Rauner al Programa de Asistencia Financiera para el Cuidado de Niño lo están afectando a usted?

Por favor díganos cómo estos cambios a CCAP lo están afectando a usted y las familias que sirve! Aprenda más sobre cómo puede contactar  a sus legisladores y al Gobernador para urgirles suspender estos recortes! Haga clic aquí para una hoja de datos!

Tome nuestro cuestionario! Comparta su historia!

Para padres y familias: Cuestionario

Para proveedores: Cuestionario

Actualización en el Presupuesto del Estado

Ha habido poco progreso hecho en pasar legislación para financiar servicios del estado y programas para el año fiscal 2016 que comenzó el 1ro de julio. El miercoles, 15 de julio, el Senado aprobó un presupuesto temporal de un mes que incluye financiamiento para cuidado de niño y trabajadores del estado. La legislación paso en la Cámara la semana pasada y ahora va a ser enviada al Gobernador. El Gobernador puede ya sea vetar o firmar la legislación. Si el Gobernador firma el proyecto de ley, Illinois va a tener financiamiento para programas por un mes y trabajadores del estado pueden ser pagados. Si él veta el proyecto de ley, los programas y los trabajadores del estado probablemente enfrentarán más problemas de financiación.

Escuche lo Último en Cuidado de Niño y el Presupuesto del Estado

Únase a Illinois Action for Children el miercoles, 29 de Julio a las 6:00 p.m. para una conferencia web sobre los cambios al Programa de Asistencia Financiera para El Cuidado de Niño y los últimos desarrollos del Presupuesto del Estado de Illinois.

El Programa de Asistencia Financiera para el Cuidado de Niño se sometió a cambios programáticos significativos en efecto el 1ro de julio, 2015. Aprenda sobre las maneras en como usted puede compartir como estos cambios están impactándolo a usted y como abogar en contra de estos cambios. No se pierda de esta llamada importante.

Reporte Reciente en Cuidado y Educación Temprana

Horas y horários de trabajo: Implicaciones para Cuidado de Niño Estatal y Pólizas del Fondo de Desarrollo

Encontrar cuidado de niño durante que coincida con el horario de trabajo de un padre a menudo es una tarea difícil. Diferentes estados, incluyendo Illinois, ha comenzado a implementar verificación estricta de horarios de trabajo y horas, así como emparejar con precisión las horas de cuidado infantil de niños con las horas de trabajo de padres. Esto ha causado baja retención de CCAP en varios estados debido al hecho de que muchos padres en CCAP tienen horarios de trabajo no tradicionales. Este resumen de investigación discute cómo tendencias recientes relacionadas a horarios de trabajo y pólizas de subsidio proveén una oportunidad para que estados hagan cambios en pólizas de elegibilidad y verificación. El resumen también explora opciones de pólizas de estado que podrían mejorar el recibimiento y retención de asistencia para cuidado de niño para familias de bajos ingresos.

Entrevista con una Proveedora de Cuidado de Niño – Ileana González

Nombre: Ileana González
Cargo: Directora
Nombre de la empresa: Busy Bees Bilingual Learning Academy, Academia Bilingüe de Busy Bees, es un programa de cuidado infantil situada en el sur de Chicago. Busy Bees ha estado ayudando a niños y familias desde el año 2005 y ahora ofrece servicio a 20 niños.

1.¿Cuéntenos algo sobre la abogacía en la cual usted ha participado recientemente?
Durante la crisis del presupuesto de este año, yo pude organizar a mis asistentes, otros proveedores de cuidado infantil, y a los padres para asistir a la marcha de Illinois Acción for Children en Springfield. En la marcha unimos nuestras voces para exigir que se aprobara el presupuesto suplementario al programa de asistencia para cuidado de niño. Los niños de Busy Bees también desempeñaron un papel importante al expresar sus opiniones. Tuvimos una marcha pequeña con los niños, y visitamos la oficina del representante André M. Thapedi donde dejamos unas llaves en su oficina como parte del Día de Acción de marzo. Los niños pasaron un rato fantástico!

2.¿Qué temas estaban dirigiendo a través de la abogacía? ¿Qué estaba esperando cambiar a través de la abogacía?
Durante la crisis fiscal, nos defendemos de nuestros legisladores estatales para hacerles saber la importancia de la educación temprana. Continuamos pidiendo a los legisladores que apoyen la educación temprana, y les estamos urgiendo para que encuentren alguna fuente de recursos para prevenir cambios programáticos al cuidado infantil.

3. Su trabajo con Illinois Action for Children ha sido instrumental dado que nos ayudó a avanzar la agenda de política pública. ¿Cómo y porque fue que se unió a esta causa?
Para mí, lo primordial es proteger a los niños. También creo que es necesario llegar a más gente hispanohablante y unirla en estos temas que conciernen pólizas de educación y el cuidado temprano. Me gustaría ser una voz que le ayudará a llegar a más personas en la lucha para apoyar el cuidado de niños y la educación.


Illinois Action for Children's Public Policy and Advocacy department works to advance legislative and administrative policies that support families, children, and early care and education. We lobby elected officials and engage in grassroots organizing, public education and advocacy.

The foundation of our work is to support parent choice and equal access to high quality early care and education for all children in Illinois. Our policy and advocacy work is funded through grants from private foundations and individual donors.

Sign up here to become an advocate for Illinois Action for Children.

What We Champion - Click here to find out what we fight for.

Become an Advocate - Click here to learn how you can become an advocate

Advocacy Action Center - Click here to learn about the latest battles for children and families and how you can make a difference.

Advocacy Events - Click here to find out how you can get involved in conference, rallies, and other Advocacy events

Ask Advocacy -Click here for Advocacy assistance and to share your story

Advocacy Tools- Access world of information that will help you advocate for children and families, including our new Community Profiles and Messaging Toolkit sections

Building Blocks II – Click here to learn about this innovative project funded by the Grand Victoria Foundation

Meet the Team – Click here to learn about the Public Policy and Advocacy team

The Strong Start for America's Children Act: Summary - November 2013 Fact Sheet

The Strong Start for America's Children Bill:  Questions and Answers