childcare announcement

CHICAGO – Child-care providers in certain downstate Illinois counties will see their reimbursement rates increase by 20% under the Child Care Assistance Program, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced this week.

In order to address Illinois’ early childhood workforce crisis, child care reimbursement base rates for all child-care centers and home-based providers are increasing by 5% statewide, with an additional 15% increase for providers in counties that are categorized as predominately rural, including Macon County.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said the move will improve access to child-care in Central and Southern Illinois communities and boost wages of child-care workers.

“I commend Governor Pritzker for working with downstate legislators on a bipartisan budget that prioritized Illinois’ child-care woes. These rate increases are much-needed, especially in underserved communities,” said Manar, a lead budget negotiator in the Illinois Senate.

Counties in Manar’s district that will see a 20% increase include Montgomery, Macoupin, Macon, Christian.

Madison and Sangamon Counties are among those that will see a 5% increase.

The state will invest another $3 million to expand access to training and education opportunities for child-care workers.

“These investments will provide relief to child-care centers that are struggling to keep their doors open and is a step toward ensuring every working family, no matter your ZIP code or economic status, has access to high-quality child care,” Manar said.

It was also announced this week that Manar will serve as co-chair of the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding, which will make recommendations on how to fund equitable access to high-quality early childhood education and care services for all children birth to age 5.

pana lakeSPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) to allow the city of Pana to move forward with a plan to develop 140 acres of dormant land around Pana Lake was signed into law this week by Governor JB Pritzker. The legislation was brought to Senator Manar by Pana Mayor Don Kroski.

“This is very exciting for everyone involved in the planning of the Pana Lake development. This allows us to develop hiking trails, camp sites and other recreational amenities. We’re grateful to Senator Manar for his effort in removing this barrier,” said Pana City Engineer Greg Holthaus on behalf of Mayor Don Kroski.

Senate Bill 1597 authorizes the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to relinquish the state’s contractual right to manage and develop the Pana Lake dam and the land surrounding it.

“It’s important that local leaders be in the driver’s seat and have a say regarding land that lies within their boundaries,” said Manar. “Transferring this land from state ownership will provide Pana with the authority to most effectively use the land to benefit its residents and the region. I appreciate Mayor Kroski reaching out to me about this important issue and I am pleased that we were finally able to get it resolved.”

The contract was originally created as an agreement between the city and the now-defunct Department of Conservation in 1949. The state intended to develop the land for recreational use, but never did so.

SB 1597 will go into effect immediately.

firefighter equipment

SPRINGFIELD – The Girard Fire Protection District and the Witt Volunteer Fire Department are among 31 rural fire departments in Illinois that will receive federal grant funds to aid in the purchase of new equipment, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced today.

The Witt Volunteer Fire Department will receive $5,000 for new helmet and pants sets. The Girard Fire Protection District will receive $4,280 for a heavy-duty extractor, which cleans firefighting gear after exposure to smoke, debris and other toxic chemicals.

“These funds will help rural firefighters safely operate in the many hazardous situations they encounter while they’re protecting our communities,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), who represents both departments. “Providing them with safe and effective gear is the most valuable thing we can do to protect their long-term health.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program is administered in Illinois by IDNR.

DSC 2487

CHICAGO - State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) was today named co-chair of the Governor’s Commission for Equitable Funding for Early Childhood Education and Care by Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker. The commission will make recommendations on how to fund equitable access to high-quality early childhood education and care services for all children birth to age 5.

“Governor Pritzker has demonstrated real commitment to early education, and I’m confident that the commission can find a data-driven early childhood education financing plan that meets that needs of families in every region of the state and enables every child to benefit from a high-quality preschool experience,” Manar said.

Manar, who engineered the state’s historic Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) reform for K-12 schools in 2017, has long advocated equitable funding for early childhood education programs.

The commission will build on the state’s record investment of $100 million in early childhood education in the fiscal year 2020 budget, which will provide pre-K to 14,000 children across Illinois.

Manar was a vocal critic of the Rauner administration’s decision last year to cut all pre-K funding for dozens of schools across Central and Southern Illinois with no warning and little explanation. The move, which forced some schools to suspend their pre-K programs indefinitely, is something Manar says should never happen again.

“Changes made by the previous administration left entire counties in downstate Illinois without a single state-funded pre-K program. We’ve done a good job reversing some of those harmful changes, but we still have work to do,” Manar said. “A primary goal of this commission is to correct a broken system and propose a new, fair funding formula just like we did for K-12.”

The 29-member commission – consisting of child care providers, advocates, educators and legislators – will be led by co-chairs State Senator Andy Manar, former State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie, Deputy Illinois Governor Jesse Ruiz, and former Illinois Early Learning Council member George Davis.

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