$300 million in COVID-19 relief available for Illinois child care providers

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 6:44 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that his administration is putting $300 million into a new COVID-19 relief program for child care providers. This is the latest push to support the early childhood industry and help more Illinoisans get back to work.

Illinois has already given $725 million to more than 5,000 providers since the pandemic started. Pritzker says 97% of grant recipients last year still have child care centers open today.

“Despite all of the pains of the pandemic, they’re still able to serve Illinois families,” Pritzker said. “For working parents, that makes all the difference.”

The governor hopes the new grants can help with recruiting and training new child care workers. Pritzker argued supporting this sector is one of the best investments for the state.

At least half of the funds must go towards new personnel and workforce initiatives. The administration will also prioritize child care providers increasing pay and benefits for their workers.

Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) says working-class families continue to tell lawmakers that they need child care and more investment.

“Our children and parents need this. Our providers need this to stay open and provide services,” Peters said. “Hundreds of millions of dollars of investment shows that we care and that we are here.”

Peters said Illinois residents should be proud that the state continues to lead on support for child care services.

Pritzker and DHS Secretary Grace Hou also announced a $45 million six-month extension for child care restoration grants. Those will only be available for providers ineligible for the new round of grants.

“At the Department of Human Services, we are honored to help carry out the governor’s vision which puts families, and most importantly, our children at the center of our recovery. Governor Pritzker has provided nation-leading support for the strongest investments in early childhood programs in Illinois,” Hou said.

Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) said child care was destroyed during the Rauner administration. He thanked Pritzker and Hou for bringing the early childhood programs back to help all families in Illinois.

“Studies show that if you’re born into poverty you probably will remain in poverty,” Ford said. “But one way to make sure that our young people in the state of Illinois have a way out of poverty is to make sure they have great roots in their education.”

The Illinois Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies will provide application information for providers.

Applications will be due early next month. The administration will start to move grants out to child care centers over the next year.

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