ACT Now Illinois looks at after school programs

Susan Stanton, who is in charge of ACT Now Illinois, says quality after school programs are yet another victim of the labor shortage, and low wages are a big reason why. (WJBC file photo)

By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – For quality after school care, you need quality employees, and for that, you need more money. 

That was the gist of an online panel discussion led by ACT Now Illinois, in which the ACT stands for Afterschool for Children and Teens.

“One of the things we need to be serious and deliberate about is having a dedicated funding stream for out-of-school time,” said State Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago), adding the funding now is a patchwork reflecting the efforts of different organizations and programs.

“And that’s not sustainable.”

A sustainable family life, said Dana Kelly, senior advisor at the Illinois Department of Human Services, requires at least $65,000 in annual income – and you are not going to get that working in after school care.

As for the labor shortage, ACT Now Illinois network lead Susan Stanton said, “This is a highly diverse field and made up of many people of color – but we are also exacerbating issues of inequity with low wages, despite high levels of educational attainment, and then providing few pathways to move on in their career.”

Dave Dahl can be reached at [email protected]


Labor Day – Expanding voting rights for all

By Mike Matejka Because of COVID, there is no Labor Day Parade this year.  It’s always a great event for our everyday workers to march proudly down the street and enjoys the festive crowd. If there had been a parade, this year’s Labor Day theme was to be “150 years of struggle: your right to vote.” …

Is federal mobilization the answer?

By Mike Matejka As President Donald Trump threatens to send federal marshals into Chicago, over the objections of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, recall another Illinois Governor who protested the incursion of armed federal personnel into the city.   Those federal troops, rather than calming, escalated the situation, leading to deaths and violence. Illinois poet Vachel Lindsay…

In these troubled times, to my fellow white Americans

By Mike Matejka Our nation is at a unique watershed in human relations. African-Americans have been killed too many times in the past before George Floyd, but the response to this man’s death is international and all-encompassing. I was a grade-schooler during the Civil Rights 1960s. I watched Birmingham demonstrators hosed and the Selma – Montgomery…

Workers’ Memorial Day – Remember those whose job took their life

Looking around our community, when we say employer, most will respond to State Farm, Country, or Illinois State University.   We too often forget those who are building our roads, serving our food, or our public employees. COVID-19 has made us more aware of the risk.  Going to work every day for some people means…