Putting Family First

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

By: Ashmar Mandou

On Monday morning, Daniel Biss and Litesa Wallace held a press conference at the Norwegian American Hospital in the Humboldt Park neighborhood to introduce the “Letting Illinois Families Excel” Platform. Biss and Wallace were joined by Alderman Roberto Maldonado and local residents who showed up to support the new proposal. “This plan is about universal child care, so that when you have a child, if you intend to stay at work you know that your child will be cared for, will be safe, will have the ability to be prepared and ready for kindergarten,” said Daniel Biss. “So that if you have a loved one who is sick, regardless of whether you work in a white collar job for a giant corporation, or whether you work in the service industry, or whether you’re earning minimum wage, you’ll have access to family leave. So that when you have a child, you can get paid time off work to care for your newborn. And to provide a system of universal long-term care, so that we don’t have to live in terror about whether or not our parents are going to happen to qualify for a particular program. “We need these programs to be universal because these needs are universal, because there are families in every corner of the State of Illinois who live every day with these needs, families in every corner of the state who have fundamental fear about whether these programs will be available in the long term.” The LIFE Platform includes the following planks:

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

Universal affordable childcare

  • Cap out-of-pocket costs at no greater than ten percent of a family’s income, with a $500 monthly ceiling.
  • Expand the eligibility standards for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), to include families with parents who work multiple jobs or long hours or are continuing their education.

Guaranteed paid sick and family leave

  • Ensure that all Illinois workers earn paid sick leave time, allowing flexibility for employees to care for themselves or sick family members.
  • Guarantee paid family leave time for employees who are welcoming a new babe, new adoption, or new foster child.

Universal long term care

  • Ensure access to quality home care services for seniors and people living with disabilities.
  • Ensure a fair wage for home care workers.
  • Support family member who leave the workforce in order to care for a family member.

Litesa Wallace talked about how one of the first battles she took on in the Illinois General Assembly was the fight to restore childcare subsidies at the levels they were prior to 2015 when Bruce Rauner issued an executive order that decimated the program.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

“Prior to [Bruce Rauner’s] executive order, individuals who were at a certain income level, who were also engaged in some higher education program or who worked full time or part time – again, at a particular income level – qualified for childcare subsidies,” Litesa Wallace said. “But with the stroke of a pen in 2015, an executive order basically rendered individuals who only made minimum wage to earners who didn’t qualify. It also removed the provision that those who work in higher education programs would have subsidies during class time. And then it issued what could have been a dangerous provision for those who are caught in domestic violence by requiring them to pursue child support against the noncustodial parent, rendering their addresses public.

“Let me close by saying this,” said Biss. “There will be those who will say this is unaffordable. There will be those who will say this is economically uncompetitive. There will be those who will say we just can’t do this because what if businesses don’t want it. The best thing for our economy is to make it safe for people to work. The best thing for our economy is to make sure that children are ready for kindergarten. The best thing for our economy is to have a system that strengthens families. Those who say that we can’t afford this are simply making an excuse about the fact that they don’t want to afford this because they don’t want to pay their fair share in taxes. Those are the people who are running our system. That’s the people who have created a tax system that works for them while the rest of us are left out in the cold, and that’s the people from whom Litesa and I are running to take back our state government.”

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