senior care 052820CHAMPAIGN – The state budget for the next fiscal year will increase funding to senior services to help some of the most vulnerable Illinoisans cope during the COVID-19 crisis, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Thursday.

“Because seniors are more likely to experience serious consequences if they contract coronavirus, many older adults have had to isolate themselves from friends and family for the past few months,” Bennett said. “This budget gives our seniors the tools to live independently.”

To offer much-needed assistance to struggling seniors during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget provides $201.7 million in additional funding to the Illinois Department on Aging.

This includes $1 billion in support for the Community Care Program, which provides cost-effective alternatives to nursing home placement and helps seniors maintain their independence. As long-term care facilities account for a disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths across the country, programs that enable older adults to remain at home may save lives.

The funds will also allow the Department on Aging to continue to offer home-delivered meal services and run the Senior HelpLine, which connects older adults and caregivers with local programs and services. In addition, the budget increases funding to Adult Protective Services to expand efforts to prevent abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of older adults.

Area Agencies on Aging will receive an additional $1.2 million to provide community-based services to seniors at a local level.

“While isolation may be a necessary step to keep higher-risk older adults safe during this pandemic, they are not alone,” Bennett said. “I’m pleased to see the state is stepping up to protect vital services for our aging parents, friends and loved ones.”

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CHAMPAIGN - The Illinois Secretary of State’s office will reopen driver services facilities to offer limited services beginning June 1, Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Wednesday.

“The secretary of state’s office has worked very hard to find safe solutions to resume critical in person services,” Bennett said. “Keep in mind that expiration dates have been extended and many services are available online. It’s great, however, to see these offices reopening.”

All secretary of state departments and offices will reopen for business starting June 1. Driver services facilities across the state will reopen the first week of June with expanded hours of operation. Through July 31, these facilities will only serve new drivers, customers with expired driver’s licenses and ID cards, and those who need vehicle transactions.

To ensure current documents remain valid and to lessen the rush of customers when facilities open, the secretary of state has extended expiration dates for driver’s licenses, IDs and vehicle registrations by at least 90 days after the governor’s disaster proclamation ends. The federal deadline to obtain a REAL ID has also been extended for October 1, 2021.

Residents are still encouraged to visit to avoid waiting in line and take advantage of online services, including replacements and renewals of registrations, driver’s licenses and ID cards.


SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) once again demonstrated his support for education by voting for a preservation budget Saturday, which fully funded education at all levels.

“The state’s budget has been significantly impacted by COVID-19, and we’re facing incredibly difficult financial times,” Bennett said. “Planning for an economic recovery will depend greatly upon education and workforce development. That’s why I voted for a budget that will improve the quality of life for the people across the state.”

This budget preserves P-12 education funding, ensuring that this pandemic does not strip students of the opportunity to succeed in the future. The plan provides $12.6 billion to P-12 education and $7.2 billion specifically for the state’s evidence-based funding model.

The plan also represents level funding for higher education and MAP grants, which many college students depend on to fund their education, as well as $35 million for the AIM HIGH Pilot Program, which provides additional assistance to Illinois students to remain in the state and attend public colleges and universities.

Bennett emphasized that the funding for state colleges and universities was held flat, helping protect them from destructive budget cuts.

“I’m grateful for the hard work that was put forth to negotiate a budget that prioritizes education even in these difficult economic times,” Bennett said. “That said, this budget gives certainty to the University of Illinois, Parkland College and Danville Area Community College.”

The budget will fund state government for Fiscal Year 2021, beginning July 1, if approved by the governor.

unnamedCHAMPAIGN - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is confident in the state’s cautious approach to reopen child care centers when the Central Region enters phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, likely next week.

“As businesses begin reopening and Illinoisans prepare to return to work, child care is a top priority for many families,” Bennett said. “The availability of child care that enables them to go to work is crucial. New guidelines have been put in place for child care centers to plan and prepare for a safe reopening.”

The Stay at Home Order issued on March 20 and amended on April 20 closed all child care programs, later establishing an emergency childcare structure to provide care for essential workers.

Under phase 3 and 4 of the governor’s reopening plan, all child care facilities will be able to open, as long as they create their own reopening plan that keeps both children and staff safe and healthy, and adhere to the guidelines set by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

That plan must include what to do if a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, daily symptom checks and a face covering requirement, among other things.

Under the governor’s plan, no more than 10 children will be allowed in a classroom at a time for four weeks. After that, if the center has met proper health, social distancing and sanitation requirements, it will be able to expand to larger group sizes.

Additionally, child care programs that have been open since the start of the Stay at Home Order will be allowed expand capacity as their region enters phase three.

“Reopening child care centers will not only relieve parents when they return to work, but it will also give children access to educational resources in a safe learning environment,” Bennett said.

All regions of the state are on track to move to the next phase as early as May 29.


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