A few short weeks ago, working families throughout Illinois learned that a state-sponsored child care program had run out of money.  Faced with the prospect of going without pay until the new state fiscal year begins in July, daycare centers and other child care services have been struggling to keep their doors open, and families have been struggling to find alternative ways to keep their children safe while they work, attend school, or go to job training programs. 

Their worries should soon be over, as the Illinois Senate has voted to shift money from another fund to ensure that families don’t lose access to child care.  The funding plan is on its way to the governor, who is expected to sign it quickly.

“Parents shouldn’t have to choose between working and caring for their children,” said State Senator Dave Koehler, who strongly supported finding a resolution to the problem.  “Child care is expensive, and it ultimately benefits everyone when we enable families to work or attend school and be contributing members of society.”

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Category: Press Releases

In Illinois, the average time a child waits to be adopted is nearly 16 months from the time their birth parents give them up to the time their adoptive parents can legally take them home.  Only 10 other states take longer.  State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is sponsoring legislation to cut the wait time for kids who are being adopted by families approved by the birth parent.

“The adoption process is traumatic for everyone involved—the children, the adoptive parents, and the biological parents,” Koehler said, “and one of the reasons it can be so difficult is that it takes a long time.  If we can cut down the wait time safely, we should.”

Koehler’s legislation allows birth parents to willingly give their children up for adoption to people who have already had custody of the kids for at least six months.  It contains important safeguards to ensure that the Department of Children and Family Services can deny these adoptions when it believes they are not in the children’s best interests.

“In cases where a foster parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparent has already been caring for a child for months, it only makes sense to speed up the adoption process, especially when the birth parent agrees,” Koehler said.

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Category: Press Releases

Senator Dave Koehler, who stopped awarding legislative scholarships earlier this year, joined his colleagues in the Illinois Senate in a vote to end the controversial program.

The Legislative Tuition Waiver Program allows each member of the General Assembly to send residents of their districts to Illinois’ public universities.  Legislators can award eight one-year waivers, four two-year waivers, or two four-year waivers each year.  Although often referred to as a scholarship program, in reality, state universities receive no extra funding to cover the cost of students who receive these waivers.

“We’re going to have to cut almost every part of the state budget this year,” Koehler explained.  “Eliminating legislative tuition waivers is much more responsible than cutting need-based financial aid programs or state universities’ funding.”

 

Category: Press Releases

Earlier today, an important legislative commission unanimously voted down Governor Pat Quinn’s proposal to close the Peoria Adult Transition Center.

“I was very pleased with the commission’s decision,” said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria).  “When we had the hearing in Peoria, everyone in the community testified about how important the Peoria halfway house is.  It really does help people return to productive lives in the community after they’ve served their time.  I’m glad the commission was convinced by our message.”

Under state law, the bipartisan, bicameral Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CoGFA) must vote to accept or reject the governor’s recommendation to close state service centers.  Though their vote is not legally binding, no governor has ever closed a facility over the commission’s objection.  The governor’s plan called for closing all but one adult transition center.

“Halfway houses are an important part of the Illinois’ corrections system,” Koehler said.  “I believe that in the end they save money by helping former inmates reintegrate into society.  They reduce recidivism rates and keep people out of our overcrowded prisons.  They also help former inmates overcome drug addictions and other obstacles that might keep them from becoming working, contributing residents of Illinois.”

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield Office:
M113 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8250

Peoria Office:
400 NE Jefferson, Suite 200
Peoria, IL 61603
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