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Illinois expanding child care assistance, $300 mil. in relief for providers, bonuses for workers

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child care, day care, education, preschool

(WSIL) -- Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Grace Hou announced a series of nation-leading investments to strengthen access to childcare for parents seeking to reenter the workforce while simultaneously bolstering childcare providers and their employees. 

IDHS is expanding Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) eligibility to include three months of free coverage for unemployed parents who meet the CCAP eligibility requirements to help residents get back to work.

The Pritzker administration is also providing bonuses of up to $1,000 for eligible childcare workers. These bonuses will be followed by two more rounds of childcare restoration grants, plus an additional phase of grants in 2022, with $300 million to be made available to providers across the state.

“Childcare is an essential part of a strong and equitable economy, and I’m proud that Illinois is leading the nation in supporting families and providers,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Without safe and affordable childcare, too many caregivers – especially women – can’t return to the workforce. We’re taking a major step to address this problem in Illinois, and rebuild our childcare ecosystem – and rebuild it better.”

Beginning October 1, 2021, parents who are unemployed and actively seeking employment will be eligible for three months of Child Care Assistance, provided they meet the standard CCAP eligibility requirements. If parents become employed or enroll in an education program before the end of the three-month period and meet all other CCAP eligibility requirements, their eligibility will continue for 12 months in total.

Families interested in applying for support through the Child Care Assistance Program, can contact their local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency (CCR&R) which can be found online at https://www.inccrra.org/about/sdasearch or by calling 1-877-202-4453 toll-free.

In addition, DHS will launch the Child Care Workforce Bonus program next month. Through the program, all staff at licensed and license-exempt childcare centers and homes will be eligible to receive up to a $1000 bonus, provided they meet all licensing and health and safety requirements. Childcare workers will receive the payment through their employer between October 2021 and March 2022.

Application information about the program will be available for employers via the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) in the coming weeks. Employers are required to pay staff 100% of the bonus amount awarded by the state.

The administration will also launch a final round of 2021 Child Care Restoration Grants and later this year will open applications for 2022 Stabilization Grants. The Child Care Restoration Grants administered through IDHS continue to offer childcare providers access to funds that can help counterbalance losses due to COVID-19 and take advanced steps to rebuild from the impacts of the pandemic. 

“Thanks to the unwavering leadership of Governor Pritzker, our administration is mobilizing federal recovery dollars to provide grants that will help Illinois businesses continue with reopening, bring back their staff, and rebuild stronger,” said IDHS Secretary, Grace B. Hou.  “At IDHS, we have taken necessary steps to support front line workers who are the fabric of communities across the state. The childcare network is essential to rebuilding our economy.”

Currently, 93,406 children are served through the CCAP. For more information on childcare support opportunities, visit www.ilgateways.com/financial-opportunities/restoration-grants.