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Gov. Pritzker Announces $300 Million in Nation-Leading Child Care Recovery Grants

Press Release - Thursday, December 02, 2021

State Surpasses $1 Billion in Child Care Provider Relief Grants Since Pandemic Began

New Funding Will Help Recruit and Retain a Robust Early Childhood Workforce

CHICAGO - Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Grace B. Hou today announced that $300 million in new relief grants will be made available to child care providers across the state. The state is also extending a previous grant program by providing nearly $50 million to previous grant recipients.
This brings the state's child care pandemic relief grant total to more than $1 billion.

Hailed as a national model, Illinois' child care grant program has provided unprecedented stability for the industry, with 97 percent of 2020's grant recipients still open and operating today. Already, $725 million in funding has reached more than 5,000 providers, with 85 percent of eligible child care centers and 40 percent of licensed family child care homes receiving direct relief.

"Illinois was heralded as a leader in supporting our child care ecosystem at the beginning of the pandemic, and we never stopped - today we're surpassing $1 billion in grant funding for providers since the pandemic began," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Supporting this sector is one of the best investments we can make as a state. We're making good on our pledge to turn Illinois into the best state in the nation for families to raise young children."

"Strengthening the child care infrastructure lays the groundwork for uplifting families across our state, and this additional funding builds upon our administration's historic efforts to support children from the first years of life," said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. "We are committed to advancing equity for the most marginalized communities in Illinois, and ensuring young children and families have access to affordable, quality child care opens up so many opportunities to a brighter future. I'm proud of the work we have accomplished, and I look forward to continuing our mission of making Illinois the best state to raise a family."

Applications for this newest round of funding are due in early January, with funding beginning to flow in February 2022 and through January 2023. This will support child care providers with approximately $25,000 per classroom per year, child care group homes with $15,000 per year, and child care homes with approximately $10,000 per year. With an eye toward equity, additional funding will be made available for programs that demonstrate they reach underserved communities. These grants will support providers with predictable funding to cover increased wages and other operational costs.

To help recruit and retain staff, at least 50 percent of these funds must be invested in new personnel and workforce initiatives, with a focus on increasing compensation and benefits.

In addition to the new $300 million grant program, Governor Pritzker and Secretary Hou announced today a $45 million, six-month extension to the Child Care Restoration Grants to best assist providers not eligible for the new round of grants.

"Governor Pritzker's leadership has made it possible for Illinois to secure quality care for children across the state, helping them learn and grow in a safe environment," said Grace B. Hou, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services. "With this investment, we will help more kids and working families thrive."

"Governor Pritzker is a trailblazer for early childhood education. It is clear he is committed to making Illinois the best state in the country to raise young children," said Kirstin Chernawsky, Director of the Division of Early Childhood, Illinois Department of Human Services.

The administration's comprehensive support programming has prevented the mass closure of child care facilities across the state and provided parents with safe places to care for their children as they reenter the workforce. Among various programs to help working families, the Governor decreased Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) co-pays for 80 percent of participating families. Families with incomes below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level have seen their monthly co-pays reduced to $1. 

This next batch of relief dollars is one of three child care initiatives Governor Pritzker announced in September. In addition to the relief grants for providers, the Governor announced the low-cost child care program for parents and guardians looking for work, as well as a bonus of up to $1,000 for eligible child care workers. The bonuses are currently in the process of being paid out, and once fully disbursed, will total $100 million.

"We thank Governor Pritzker for his commitment to the early childhood education network that serves as a pillar in the community. These grants allow us to operate high quality care and programming for our youngest children. The administration's comprehensive support for effective programs has made a tremendous impact across the state and provided parents with safe places to care for their children as they reenter the workforce," said Edgar Ramirez, President and CEO, Chicago Commons.

"Child Care workers play a vital role in making sure that parents can get to work and provide for their families. We owe it to parents to ensure that their children have proper care when they're on the job," said State Senator Robert J. Peters (D-Chicago).

"Every single child in Illinois deserves quality care, and I'm thankful for Governor Pritzker's leadership with this program.  It's clear that we won't let the COVID 19 pandemic prevent quality care for our youngest children," said State Representative LaShawn K. Ford (D-Chicago).

Today's announcement builds and furthers the Governor's commitment and financial support to the early childhood system throughout the pandemic. 

Application information about the newest round of grants and Restoration Grant extension will be available for providers through the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA).

Currently, more than 95,000 Illinois children are served through the CCAP. For more information on child care support opportunities, visit the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Early Childhood.



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