Child-care union rips Rauner

Guv signs CCAP bill, but SEIU Healthcare Illinois says 'the damage has been done'

Gov. Rauner caught flak from SEIU Healthcare Illinois over his record on child care. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Gov. Rauner caught flak from SEIU Healthcare Illinois over his record on child care. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

A leading state union dismissed a recent bill signing on child care by Gov. Bruce Rauner as too little, too late on Monday, saying, "The damage has been done" and calling the governor's record "absolutely despicable."

SEIU Healthcare Illinois issued a statement Monday after Rauner signed a bill into law extending the eligibility period for families enrolled in the Child Care Assistance Program. The new law brings Illinois policy in line with federal standards calling for CCAP families to recertify their eligibility annually. Before the new law, Illinois had required recertification every six months, a policy child-care advocates called cruel and burdensome.

Yet the state union charged that was only part of the chaos the Rauner administration brought to CCAP, including wavering income limits and threats to withdraw payments to child-care providers, which prompted many families and businesses to just drop out.

“Not only did Rauner not lift a finger during this process, but his record on child care is absolutely despicable,” said Brynn Seibert, vice president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and director of its Child Care Division.

The union said the governor deserved no credit for the bill, adding, "The legislation was actually the result of a bipartisan legislative effort fueled by SEIU, advocates, and working families."

It charged that "time and again, the governor vetoed legislation to restore and expand CCAP eligibility, despite desperate pleas from many parents that his CCAP cuts put them at risk of losing their jobs or having to drop out of school." According to SEIU Healthcare Illinois, the turbulence and uncertainty in the program caused 40,000 children to drop out since Rauner took office along with 10,000 child-care providers.

Rauner's media spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.