The 21st Show

Interviewing Migrant Children; The Toxic Work Culture At Speaker Madigan’s Office; Child Care Assistance Program; ‘The Most Fun We Ever Had’ Novel


In this June 23, 2018, file photo, an immigrant child looks out from a U.S. Border Patrol bus leaving as protesters block the street outside the U.S. Border Patrol Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas. Immigrant children described hunger, cold and fear in a voluminous court filing about the facilities where they were held in the days after crossing the border. Advocates fanned out across the southwest to interview more than 200 immigrant parents and children about conditions in U.S. holding facilities, detention centers and a youth shelter. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

On the heels of the Trump administration's plans to potentially detain migrant children indefinitely, we hear from an Illinois Wesleyan professor who interviewed migrant children at the border and saw their living conditions firsthand. Plus, a new report describes a toxic work environment at the office of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. We also hear about changes to the Child Care Assistance Program, and talk with author and Oak Park native Claire Lombardo.

The Trump administration announced a new rule yesterday that would detain migrant families and children indefinitely, or until their immigration cases are decided. 

This rule would replace the decades-old Flores Settlement Agreement, which set a 20-day limit on how long children could remain in immigration facilities. 

Kathleen O’Gorman recently got a rare firsthand look at some of the conditions at these detention centers and border patrol offices. She has traveled from central Illinois, where she’s an English professor at Illinois Wesleyan, to interview migrant children at U.S. immigration facilities. She’s made six visits on behalf of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. The organization’s mission is to determine whether the U.S. government is abiding by the Flores settlement.

Plus - 

On Tuesday an independent report about House Speaker Mike Madigan’s office was released. It was authored by former federal prosecutor Maggie Hickey - and in it, she describes a toxic work environment - that included repeated instances of bullying and sexual harassment.

Hickey placed most of the blame for this work environment on Tim Mapes, who worked at the Speaker’s office for 26 years.

Dave McKinney covers state politics for WBEZ Chicago and he joins us to unpack this.

And - 

Just about everyone with kids knows that child care is expensive. Unless you hit the grandparents-in-town lottery, you could be paying $250 a week per kid at a child care center.

The state does offer some financial assistance to soften the blow for low-income parents -- what’s called the Child Care Assistance Program. 

And this year it’ll be easier to get that help - and more families will be eligible. The state is lowering co-pays -- the share of child care that low-income families have to pay themselves. And it’s changing the income threshold to get help -- up to 200% of the federal poverty line, instead of 185%. It had gone in the other direction during the Rauner administration.

Grace Hou is the secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, which administers this program.

Then - 

Claire Lombardo grew up the youngest of five children in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park. Now, her debut novel - called The Most Fun We Ever Had - returns to her hometown, this time through the  eyes of the fictional Sorenson family. 

The book tackles the secrets, woes, triumphs, and ultimately the love - between the four Sorenson daughters, their parents, and a new family member who shakes things up even more. Each character gets a chance to tell their side of the story in the novel which stretches over four decades and is narrated by all seven family members.  

Claire Lombardo speaks with us on the show. She will also be back in the Chicago suburbs in the coming months for a few different events related to her novel.

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