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Foundation: Cuts would hurt kids

The Evanston Community Foundation is opposing proposed state cuts in early childhood and other social service programs.


The Evanston Community Foundation is opposing proposed state cuts in early childhood and other social service programs.

Foundation officials say the group has been committed to a community change initiative, Every Child Ready for Kindergarten, Every Youth Ready for Work since 2006.

“Our community outreach and research in the area of early childhood education tells us that a supportive home environment and early learning are critical to children’s readiness for kindergarten and ultimately for their success in school and in the workforce,” says the group’s president, Sara Schastok.

“Children in many families benefit greatly from the parental support provided by high quality home visiting followed by access to quality early childhood education and childcare,” Schastok said.

“Stresses on these families are great in the best of circumstances—insecure housing, jobs that pay poorly, childcare subsidy levels that limit advancement at work, and choices among childcare and preschool programs. The state’s proposed budget cuts clearly threaten the well-being of many families,” she added.

The Foundation’s board opposes cuts in the state budget for these services, encourages all residents to follow the political process in Springfield, and encourages residents to support measures that preserve services essential to families by contacting legislators to express their concerns.

The Evanston Community Foundation has invested more than $450,000 locally in parent support and early education in the birth to three years since 2007, an investment that has leveraged state-funded services in several community organizations.

The forty families added to home visiting rosters in Evanston by these grants increased these parent support services by more than fifty percent, and ECF grants brought training in assessment methods to all home visiting professionals in Evanston.

The Foundation’s stance cites proposals to balance the state budget that include provisions to reduce eligibility for childcare subsidies from 180% of the poverty level to 50% (a three-person family would be ineligible with an income exceeding $9,155).

Reductions in subsidies will affect parents of 142,085 children, according to Voices for Children, about 100,000 of them in Cook County alone. Programs funded for home visiting have been told by the state to expect cuts of up to 75%.

“The loss of state funding means service cutbacks to families—and it also means job layoffs,” says Marybeth Schroeder, senior program officer at the Foundation.

A recent survey of nonprofit organizations conducted by Evanston Inventure and the Evanston Community Foundation found that more than 8,400 Evanston residents earn wages at nonprofit organizations. “Our findings show that Evanston’s small nonprofit organizations, excluding health care and education, employ roughly 3,000 people,” Schroeder says.

The Foundation’s position paper includes a summary of broader concerns raised by proposed budget cuts in other areas of social and human services. It is available on the foundation’s website.

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