SPRINGFIELD - The state has reached a tentative contract agreement with 49,000 child-care workers providing wage increases and health insurance benefits.
While members of Service Employees International Union Local 880 must still ratify the contract, leadership endorsed the deal Tuesday morning.
"It will improve childcare service throughout Illinois," said Helen Miller, the local's president.
The contract will cost the state $250 million and also would extend health insurance coverage to the workers, who provide services to 200,000 children from families that receive state and federal assistance. The insurance will be made available in the contract's third year.
Along with providing health insurance for child-care workers, the state also will be increasing the base subsidy rate an average of 35 percent over the 39-month contract. The current rate ranges from $9.48 to $22 per child per day.
The proposed contract also will allow child-care workers, who undergo additional training, to get base rate increases up to 20 percent in the second year of the contract.
"Home-based child-care providers are the first educators in the lives of thousands of Illinois children," said Maria Velazquez, who is licensed to care for 12 children. "Parents trust us to get their children ready for school and life."
Ballots were sent out Saturday and voting ends Jan. 1.