ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Illinois leaders are working to address the lack of child care services in rural communities across the state.
Experts believe that solving child care issues now can prevent even bigger problems in the future.
“Rural Illinois’ child poverty rate overall is almost two points higher than that of children in urban areas of the state,” said Sean Noble, director of Illinois State Fight Crime: Invest. in Kids.
The annual Investing in Children Report links the lack of child care in Illinois to higher crime rates.
“We find that overall 58% of Illinois live in a child care desert where there are more than three children under age five for every licensed child care slot, but in rural communities , that figure goes up to 69%,” Noble said. .
The report is usually released before Governor JB Pritzker unveils his budget proposal. This year, Pritzker will ask lawmakers to allocate more money to child care.
“If we invested more in programs from birth to five, it would help reduce poverty, it would help with kindergarten readiness and school success and the effects would really extend to reducing crime and violence because of what the research shows,” Noble said. .
Lee County Sheriff John Simonton says the search is hitting too close to home.
“Educate the children at a very young age as quickly as possible to hopefully save them from falling into the traps and becoming residents of my prison,” Simonton said.
Simonton also believes that building positive relationships between police and children will reduce these crime statistics.
“Start at a young age, let them see what police officers are really like, not necessarily arresting them all the time, but helping them out in the community and participating in some of their activities,” Simonton said.
Leaders cite population loss as the reason for child custody struggles. From 2010 to 2020, rural Illinois’ population fell nearly 6%
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