SPRINGFIELD – More than 100 bills were signed into law late last week including a measure that protects children who are crime victims and legislation that addresses the isolation of residents of long-term care facilities.
Also late last week, the Illinois State Police launched a new public website to view crime statistics. The website is a part of the state repository for crime statistics, which works to provide reliable information for law enforcement and the public.
In other news, a recent study on childcare costs shows that Illinois has some of the highest costs in the nation.
And the Homeowner Assistance Fund Home Repair Program is currently open through July 31 for applications. The submission is online, and an informational webinar will be hosted July 13.
Protecting child victims
A new law seeks to prevent victims of violent crimes from being re-traumatized when they pursue justice through the criminal justice system.
House Bill 2607, which was signed into law on June 30, allows victims younger than 13 to testify remotely via closed circuit TV in most cases. This ensures that they won’t be forced to testify in person about the worst moments of their life in front of a room full of strangers and their attacker.
The legislation was inspired by a downstate Illinois family who was forced to take legal action to prevent their child from being required to testify against their abuser in court.
Addressing isolation of long-term care residents during public health emergencies
Addressing the heartbreaking isolation that long-term care residents faced during the COVID-19 pandemic is the goal of a new state law.
Senate Bill 2322 directs the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to establish a statewide policy for visiting residents in long-term care facilities in the event of a public health emergency. Facilities would be required to inform residents of their rights to designate both a “primary essential support person” and a “secondary essential support person” of their choice. These support people would provide essential care for residents far beyond a general visit.
This new law allows residents to continue receiving essential care from their support persons despite visitation restrictions, and even under a statewide emergency. The legislation does not affect hospitals or certain care facilities where IDPH has no regulatory oversight.
State Police launch crime statistics website
On July 1, the Illinois State Police (ISP) officially launched the Crime in Illinois Online website. Part of the Illinois Uniform Crime Reporting Program, this website makes it possible for the public to view yearly crime statistics. Previous years’ reports are hosted in the archives, but up-to-date information is viewable by each category rather than the entire report.
This program serves as the state repository for the collection of crime statistics, and with increasing need for transparency, Illinois has transitioned over the last two-and-a-half years from a more traditional system to the new, more robust National data system, according to ISP. Participation in reporting is mandated by Illinois law.
On the website, the public can find data on crime rates per county and the type of offenses and their trends. All reports can be downloaded and the website itself is interactive with a variety of information. This website will be continuously updated as that data is submitted by various agencies.
New report shows high cost of childcare
A new study on childcare costs from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that Illinois parents pay some of the highest costs in the nation. According to the study, for one toddler to attend an Illinois childcare center, parents must pay $1,039 per month and $745 per month for a home care center.
Illinois’ average total cost of childcare comes out to about 11 percent of the state’s median income of married couples and 37 percent of a single mother’s income. In Illinois, childcare is the largest expense for parents of children ages 4-8.
The report also notes the ongoing challenges working parents face when it comes to childcare. Nationally, the number of working parents who said childcare problems forced them to miss work in the previous week had never been higher, hitting a record in 2022 at 104,000 families.
Additionally, 13 percent of children ages birth to 5 had a family member who faced work challenges related to childcare and more than half of working parents with infants and toddlers reported having been late to work or leaving work early at least once in the previous three months due to childcare problems.
HAFHR Program Applications Open
The Homeowner Assistance Fund Home Repair Program (HAFHR) is accepting applications through July 31. This program awards grants to nonprofits and governmental entities to make home repair grants to homeowners negatively impacted or housing insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and unaddressed home repairs. This program is not for homeowners, as the program will not be open for the public until sometime in 2024.
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) has awarded $25 million for this program. The grants received will be between $1 million to $5 million, and the organizations awarded will be responsible for then awarding home repair grants of up to $60,000 per eligible homeowner.
Applications are due by 3:00 p.m. on July 31 and can be completed online. The IHDA is also hosting an Application Workshop Webinar at 10:00 a.m. on July 13. Register online at https://illinois2.webex.com/weblink/register/rd1de5a6150354f3d2aea4261ce4e256b.