Illinois at crossroads in Kids Count report

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Inside the Skribbles Child Care Center in New Windsor, three-fourths of the families receive state aid to attend. But the rural center gets lower payments than urban ones. Often, those state payments are delayed. Right now, cash-strapped Illinois is running more than two weeks late.

"It's very scary, number one, as a mom," said Shawna Kerr, a day care provider in Rock Island and Moline. "I'm a hard working mom. I have two small children. I have to work to provide for my children."

Reasons why the group Voices for Illinois Children talked about advances and setbacks. They warn that progress is in jeopardy. Budget cuts will hurt those who need services the most.

"We need voices to be raised to say, protect our children," said Sue Swisher, Child Abuse Council. "We need them to be successful."

As child poverty climbs and family income drops in Rock Island County, that access to services becomes even more important. It affects families and communities.

Early childhood education, early intervention and children's mental health remain top local priorities. But the state's belt-tightening troubles grandmother Matilda Lao.

"The programs are being cut," she said. "There's no resources available for these families. What's going to happen to the children?"

That's the ultimate concern at Skribbles. Unfunded mandates and red tape add to the maze of social services.

"Every cost is going up," Kerr concluded. "Our minimum wage is not going up. We have parents who are suffering."

For Illinois youngsters, there's no time to wait.