Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS on Monday, Sept. 21 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 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,” the governor added.
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.
IDHS is partnering with the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) to distribute the grants. Applications will be available online in the coming weeks at https://www.ilgateways.com/financial-opportunities/restoration-grants.
“Christian Child Care is a licensed, nationally accredited, ExceleRate Illinois Gold Quality center. Proudly, CCC has been serving Logan County for over 30 years. 2020 has been a different year. Operating under a pandemic has thrown everyone a curveball, but CCC continues to serve Logan County with best practices and supports early childhood education effort,” said Libby Canady, Christian Child Care program director.
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 the governor’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.
“Every educator will tell you that these early years are profoundly important to long-term outcomes for our children,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “These dollars represent an investment not only in the families of our essential workers, but also in the healthy future of our communities.”