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Glitch in state system leaves daycare centers without funding

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Could your kid's daycare be closing? That's a reality for some providers who are waiting for payments from the state of Illinois to keep their daycares running.

Those daycares that collect money from the state for low income children work with West Central Childcare Connection as part of that program. Officials there and at the state level said the late payments are due to a glitch in the system but providers said it's not the first time they've heard that excuse.

Natalie Washington has been a licensed daycare provider since 2016. Of the 12 kids on her roster, 7 of them are in the Child Care Assistance Program. The state pays Washington to watch those kids.

"I've watched a lot of them start walking, potty trained a lot of them. Taught them their first words. It's really hard to be in this situation where you might possibly have to let that go," said Washington.

That situation was created when the state didn't pay Washington for watching those kids all of December. The state said a glitch in the payment processing system is the issue.

"We've had to take out a loan just to pay our bills. Our rent hasn't been paid and we got a disconnect notice from Ameren," said Washington.

Officials at West Central Childcare Connection said they've been inundated with calls from providers unhappy about this issue.

"We understand that. But they are trying the best they can. At this point there's nothing we in this office can do," said program coordinator Holly Prisner.

Prisner said this is the longest their providers have gone without a payment in a few years but providers like Washington said this isn't the first time the state has done this and they don't want it to happen again.

"We're living on hopes and prayers. It's hard. It's devastating not knowing if you're going to be able to pay your bills. It's devastating not knowing if you're going to have the lights on," said Washington.

The Department of Human Services issued a statement Thursday saying "Those problems are now resolved and providers will begin to receive their payments starting tomorrow." But providers said until they have the check in their hands, they're not trusting the state.

Brett Knese

Multi-Media Journalist at WGEM News.

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