Senators comment on this year's Black History Month theme, “The Crisis in Black Education.”
Over the years the crisis in black education has grown significantly. In urban neighborhoods, public schooling systems lack resources and have overcrowded classrooms, which result to students of color reaping the disproportionate shortfalls of the racial achievement gap.
In the past, whether by laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm in America. Because of that, black students today are underperforming and are not advancing like their white counterparts.
This year’s national theme, The Crisis in Black Education, focuses on the evolution of black education and its meaning as it empowers students to grow, achieve and prosper.
Decision raises eligibility to crucial program for working families
CHICAGO - Since July 1, thousands of Illinois children have been turned away from the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Cuts enacted by the governor dramatically lowered eligibility to CCAP, turning away 90 percent of previously eligible children.
Earlier this week, a state panel that sets rules for CCAP voted to enact an agreement reached by Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) and the governor restoring eligibility to 90% of applicants, according to Illinois Action for Children. For example, a family of two earning up to $2,151 a month can immediately access CCAP services. That family had been cut out by the governor.
Nearly two years ago, Governor Rauner made drastic cuts to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), eliminating safe and affordable child care for tens of thousands of working Illinoisans. While some of those cuts were later reversed, families with parents enrolled in education or training programs remain ineligible.
State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) passed Senate Bill 1705 out of the Senate Human Services Committee recently that would restore child care eligibility for these families.
“Every child requires someplace safe to be so their parents can be full and active participants in our economy,” Hutchinson said. “It makes no sense for us on one hand to advocate for training and educational opportunities, which will have long-term financial benefits for families, while taking away any helping hand that would support that parent in achieving their goal.”
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) was honored with the 2016 Legislative Champion Award from the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs this morning at an event in Springfield.
“I am humbled to be receiving the 2016 Legislative Champion Award from an organization dedicated to the issues facing the children of Illinois,” Hutchinson said. “YMCAs serve our communities by providing vital child care programs, after-school services and athletic opportunities to thousands of children. At a time of drastic cuts to our social safety net, the work done by YMCAs is more important than ever.”
The Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs represents 46 centers throughout the state, serving more than one million children and adults in more than 120 communities.
“We are so fortunate to have a legislator like Senator Hutchinson fighting for our state's children and families,” DaWana Williamson with the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago said. “Her unrelenting leadership and advocacy for quality and accessible youth programs has been instrumental in making sure organizations like the YMCA are able to partner with schools, juvenile detention facilities, government agencies and churches to reach and serve our state's most at-risk youth.”
Photo: Senator Hutchinson with DaWana Williamson from the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago after accepting the 2016 Legislative Championship Award.
SPRINGFIELD – With studies showing an alarming one-in-five undergraduate college women becoming victims of rape or attempted rape, a measure was signed into law today that will prevent and ensure proper response to sexual assaults that occur on college campuses.
“College represents new experiences and new beginnings for thousands of young women and men each year,” sponsor Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said. “With thousands of college students heading to school, many of them for the first time, we are reminded of the importance in both preventing sexual assaults and responding with every single resource at our disposal when they do occur. Sexual assault cannot be tolerated anywhere.”
While there have been efforts at the federal level to deal with the issue of sexual violence on campuses, universities have been left with a patchwork of recommendations and proposals without clear guidance on how they can reduce the incidence of violence on their campuses and effectively deal with the aftermath of sexual assaults.
Acknowledging this reality, Senator Hutchinson teamed with Attorney General Lisa Madigan to ensure colleges develop clear, comprehensive campus plans for dealing with sexual violence. Each plan will ensure victims have help immediately after an attack, including confidential advisers who can guide them to medical and legal resources. These advisers must also focus on often-overlooked issues, such as orders of protection and situations where housing and class schedules need to be changed.
House Bill 821 was signed into law today by the governor and takes effect immediately.
SPRINGFIELD – With 98 percent of American women using birth control at some point in their lives, having easy access to the myriad forms of contraceptives available is an important part of the health care delivery system for women.
“Women utilize contraceptives for many different reasons. The most obvious reason is for birth control,” State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said. “But for many women, contraceptives play a key role in our overall health. Government should ensure that women have access to all forms of contraceptives without intrusion by insurance bureaucrats or politicians.”
SPRINGFIELD – Since Illinois’ budget impasse began more than eight months ago, more than 1,500 youth across the state have been kicked out of after-school programs that previously received funding from the Teen REACH program. Teen REACH provides grants to support local communities’ after-school programs that serve at-risk youth age 6 to 17.
“Study after study highlights the direct link between investing in after-school programs and higher levels of student success and lower rates of crime,” State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said. “This is especially true in some of our most impoverished neighborhoods and communities.”
Thousands of working parents throughout the state had access to affordable child care services last year thanks to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Drastic cuts instituted by the governor on July 1 have put these vital services in jeopardy, with approximately 90 percent of new applicants who otherwise meet program requirements no longer eligible for the program.
“Families on CCAP are doing exactly what we tell them they are supposed to be doing, which is waking up every morning and going to work or school,” sponsor State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said. “Children should not be used as leverage in this budget impasse.”
In response to the crisis, Hutchison passed a proposal out of the Senate today to restrict the ability of the governor and the Department of Human Services to drastically cut CCAP. In addition to dramatically lowered eligibility standards, children currently in CCAP are facing higher copays and waiting lists to receive services.
With more than 70,000 Illinois jobs tied to the child care industry, the large decrease in families eligible for CCAP has the potential to cause layoffs at child care centers and even the closing of entire facilities, especially in lower-income areas where a majority of families access CCAP. And with CCAP only available to parents who are either in the workforce or enrolled in school, and the average cost of daycare more than $950 a month, many working parents will be forced to drop out of the workforce and stay home to care for their children. Many would then be forced onto public assistance programs, costing the state more money than is being saved by slashing CCAP.
“Centers are on the verge of closing now. Children are being denied services now. This is not an abstract issue that might happen on some future date. This crisis is playing out in front of us today,” Hutchinson said.
Senate Bill 570 passed the Senate today and now heads to the Illinois House for further debate.
After three years of the governor failing to fulfill his constitutional obligation to introduce a balanced budget, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus assembled for a press conference to say enough is enough. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is a collection of black legislators from both the House of Representatives and Senate.
"I am not sure what could be said about the governor's three years of inactivity," said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), chairwoman for the Joint Legislative Black Caucus. "Before he was sworn in he stated he wanted to shake things up in Springfield; in the process, he has shaken a hole in our state."
SPRINGFIELD – Kankakee-area schools would see more than $5.5 million more in state funding next year under a plan being considered tomorrow in the Illinois Senate.
“Investing in the future success of our students starts with ensuring our classrooms are well-equipped and ready to train the leaders of tomorrow,” supporter State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) said. “Increasing state funding for school districts not only accomplishes this goal but also takes the pressure off communities with little property wealth to draw resources from.”
Under the plan being considered, Kankakee School District 111 would see a $4,556,749 increase, Bradley School District 61 would see a $469,701 increase, Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School would see a $399,546 increase and Bourbonnais Elementary School District 53 would see a $282,688 increase.
“Many school districts would not be able to open on time this year without receiving their state payments,” Hutchinson said. “This plan brings stability to families and teachers and ensures schools open on time this fall.”
The proposal is expected to be debated and called for a vote tomorrow when the Senate returns to Springfield.
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