powermeterSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford's (D-Maywood) plan to continue the Supplemental Low-Income Energy Assistance Program and Percentage of Income Payment Program has passed the Illinois Senate and is on its way to the governor. Both programs help low-income families afford heat in the winter.

"These programs are too important to allow them to fall prey to budget cuts," Lightford said. "Having access to heat in the winter can be a matter of life or death, especially for seniors and families with young children."

The LIHEAP program provides low-income families with a one-time benefit to help them pay for energy expenses in the winter. Eligibility guidelines are based on the federal poverty level. Families who don't own their own homes can only qualify if the cost of rent is more than 30 percent of their total expenses. The program also has sliding application periods to ensure that seniors get the first opportunity to apply, followed by families with children, followed by all others.

The PIPP program, which was reinstated by a law passed by Lightford, allows participating families to pay a percentage of their incomes toward their utility bills, receive monthly benefits and lower their utility bills each time they make on-time payments of overdue bills by their due dates. The program has been highly successful in helping families lower their winter energy costs.

To learn more about LIHEAP and PIPP, utility customers can call Illinois' Energy Assistance Hotline at (877) 411-9267.

The two programs were in danger of expiring this year, but Lightford's legislation will ensure that winter heating help will be available for at least another decade.

Category: News Releases

Proposal to lower the compulsory education age from 7 to 6 passes Senate

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford's (D-Maywood) plan to require all children to start school at age 6 has cleared the Senate and now goes to the Illinois House.

"Second grade is too late to start school," Lightford said. "How can a child who doesn't even start school until she turns 7 ever catch up on her reading and math skills?"

Lightford's proposal (Senate Bill 1307) lowers Illinois' compulsory education age from 7 to 6 – a move strongly supported by Illinois teachers.

Illinois is one of 14 states that do not require children to attend school until they turn 7. Two other states start at the age of 8. However, most states require children to go to school starting at age 5 or 6.

According to a Chicago Tribune report, nearly 18 percent of Chicago kindergartners and first-graders were chronic truants during the 2010-11 school year, missing nine or more days without a valid excuse.

Under Illinois law, child truants do not face any penalties – their parents do. A parent who doesn't make every effort to make sure their children are at school can face up to 30 days in jail or a $1,500 fine, though the courts rarely impose such severe penalties.

"We owe it to the children to pass this law," Lightford said. "As a society, we decided children deserve an education when we passed the first compulsory education law. We should make sure they get it.

"Parents can choose public school, private school, religious school, charter school or home school. The only thing they can't choose is to deprive their children of the opportunity to get the education they need to qualify for a good job later in life."

Category: News Releases

State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) welcomes students from Broadview's Lindop School to the Capitol on Tuesday for Tech Day 2013. Lindop students were among hundreds from across the state who came to Springfield to show how they use technology in the classroom.

Students from Lindop's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program demonstrated a robot they had built.

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Category: Latest

For teens and young adults in Chicago who are looking for a summer job, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced this week the One Summer Chicago program, which will help more than 18,000 young Chicagoans gain valuable skills and experience.

"One Summer Chicago is a joint effort between the City and County to provide Chicago's youth with summer job opportunities and activities designed to enhance personal development and learning in a safe environment," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. "Mayor Emanuel and I recognize the importance of offering young people productive alternatives to help them succeed."

Visit One Summer Chicago's website for more information about the program, which also includes educational and recreational opportunities.

RELATED: Registration_is_Now_Open_for_One_Summer_Chicago_2013.pdf


Category: News Releases


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