Chicago day care providers fight for funding amid new rules

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Child care providers say they are in a fight to survive amid new rules in the city of Chicago.

More than two dozen community-based day care facilities say they lost all or part of their funding after the city changed its rule on qualifying for tax dollars.

Building Blocks Learning Academy in Englewood is set to open its doors on June 29, a day before a grant from the city dries up. It may result in layoffs.

"For us it's $240,000, which directly impacts six of our teachers and 60 of our children," owner Michelle Redd said.

Because she is one of the last hired, teacher Desiree Wolfe's job is now in jeopardy.

"This is something else we have to worry about as well in the midst of the pandemic," Wolfe said.

Buildings Blocks is one of about 25 child care facilities in low-income neighborhoods that are losing vital funds from the City of Chicago. About 3,000 children will be affected if there are layoffs or closures.

"When the mayor stood and said, 'I will not allow businesses in these communities to close,' that is exactly what is happening and it's hitting brown and black children," Redd said.

Staff and parents from several child care facilities took their fight to City Hall Tuesday. They demanded transparency on why they applied for block grants they usually receive every year, but were rejected beyond 2019. To keep the centers going , the city extended the funding through June 30.

Despite the outcry for transparency and funding, the city gave no indication it plans to extend the funding beyond June 30.

Child care operators accuse the city of pushing funds and kids towards Chicago Public Schools Pre-K programs. Parent Charlene Guy said in neighborhoods like Englewood, parents need quality choices. Her 6-year-old son Carter has gone to Building Blocks since he was an infant.

"It's a different environment. I like the family environment, it makes me feel much better than CPS where you have 30 kids in classroom with one teacher," Guy said.
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