SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WSIL) — Child care providers in the state facing challenges during the pandemic are getting a boost from the state.
Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) today announced that over $156 million in BIG funding has been provided to 4,686 child care providers across Illinois facing challenges as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The first round of funding helped child care centers and homes in 95 counties across the state. Forty-seven percent of the grant funds were awarded to childcare programs located in areas that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“Anyone who knows anything about what it takes to raise a family knows that without quality, affordable child care, there is no economic opportunity for working parents, and especially working mothers. That’s why – even in these incredibly difficult economic times – Illinois directed federal pandemic response dollars to helping child care providers operate in safer, smaller group sizes without needing to impose large tuition increases on families,” said Gov. Pritzker. “To date, I’m proud to say that over half of that funding has already been distributed – including over $65,000 to Christian Child Care. Remaining on track to become the best state in the nation to raise young children is achievable, even in these difficult times. Holding ourselves to the highest standards when it comes to our youngest children is vital to strengthening the social and economic fabric of our state and our nation.”
An additional $114 million in grants will be available for child care providers across the state through the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) program, the second round of funding dedicated to supporting child-care centers and homes.
Grantees eligible for funding include childcare centers and family childcare homes that are licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and are currently open and serving children in their communities.
In addition to BIG funding, the administration is utilizing federal relief dollars to support early childhood programs. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) dedicated $10 million of Governor Pritzker’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to early childhood education providers. The funding includes $9 million for Early Childhood Block Grant programs in Illinois communities that have been most heavily impacted by the pandemic. Programs can use the additional resources to supply parents and families with hands-on home learning materials, purchase technology to support remote learning, purchase personal protective equipment, provide staff members with stipends to work beyond contractual hours, and support the implementation of remote home visiting services.
In accordance with the latest guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health, all childcare programs must operate at approximately 30% reduced capacity in Phases 3 & 4 of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan to allow for social distancing.
Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly directed a minimum of $270 million of the state’s Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (CURE) Fund to support the economic health of child care providers as the Illinois economy begins to safely reopen. established the Child Care Restoration Grants program to help businesses