05/10/2012 11:42 am ET

Illinois Child Care Cuts Postponed: Quinn To Divert Medicare Premium Funds

A week after Gov. Pat Quinn's office raised concerns over whether the state could afford to maintain subsidized childcare services through the fiscal year, Quinn announced that Illinois will be able to close the funding gap just in time for Mother's Day.

More than 40,000 child care service centers across Illinois received notifications on May 2 that the state had begun to delay payments to child care agencies due to an anticipated $73 million budget gap, according to the Rock River Times. The budget year ends June 30, and Quinn's office told day care providers that there wasn't enough money last that long.

But on Tuesday, Quinn announced that he had found the $73 million: in a fund set aside to pay Medicare premiums that "will not be spent on the original purpose this year," the Chicago Tribune reports.

"We're going to reallocate that money for the child care subsidy to make sure that working moms and dads have the subsidy they need in order to go to work and make sure their kids are well taken care of," Quinn told the newspaper Tuesday.

The cuts would have affected about 85,000 low-income parents who rely on the subsidy program, which provides up to $896 million a year to offset child care costs for qualifying families, according to the Northwest Herald.

Huffington Post editor and blogger Dan Collins wrote of similar cuts proposed in New York, saying slashing child care is a "particularly cruel kind of cut, one that falls hardest on the people who've been trying hardest. It's particularly tough on struggling single mothers, and it targets exactly the kind of children who need extra preparation before going to public school."

Quinn's proposal will be reviewed by legislators before going into effect. But lawmakers will have precious little time to shift their focus to next year's budget, which faces up to $85 in cuts to the program, along with increasing parent co-pays and enacting stricter eligibility standards, according to the Morris Daily Herald.