$1.6 Billion in Federal Aid Coming To Illinois For Childhood Education, Childcare -- $140 Million Available to Providers in Next 3 Weeks

$1.6 Billion in Federal Aid Coming To Illinois For Childhood Education, Childcare — $140 Million Available to Providers in Next 3 Weeks

Kane County childcare providers should be aware of the influx of federal funding we’re likely to see in the next three weeks.

State officials announced that Illinois will receive $1.6 billion in federal aid to expand access to high quality early childhood education and child care for children and families across the state.

This includes $140 million in direct grants to childcare providers over the next three weeks, adding to the $290 million granted to child care providers earlier in the pandemic.

According to a state of Illinois news release, Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday announced the establishment of a network of statewide early childhood planning councils to ensure all communities have access to the early childhood services they need.

The Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding Commission are the agencies that determine ways to improve child services in Illinois and remove barriers to access for families, especially families of color.

The commission recently released a report that included a roadmap to establish a simpler, better system in Illinois, particularly as it relates to low-income children, rural children, children of color, and children with disabilities.

“In the worst throes of the pandemic, Illinois dedicated $290 million to 5,000 childcare centers and homes in 95 counties, allowing them to stay afloat through this challenging year, and offered additional support far beyond the national standard,” Pritzker said. “And families in need of childcare were able to lower their out of pocket cost. The program has been so successful that we will use the first of these new American Rescue Plan dollars to provide another round of funding for it.”

Based on a recommendation from the commission’s report, over the next 18 months the administration will launch a network of early-childhood planning councils in communities across the state. The councils will work with families, local early childhood providers, schools, civic leaders, and the business community to ensure every community in the state has the unique early childhood services it needs.

Through the work of the local councils, families will be given a voice in designing the childhood services they need, especially families who have historically been shut out of the decision-making process.

Pritzker also announced the creation of an Early Childhood Transformation Team in partnership with Northern Illinois University. The team will help move forward recommendations received from the Commission and the network of local councils on behalf of children, families, providers, and communities. The administration is also creating a new Division of Early Childhood to be housed in the Illinois Department of Human Services.

State Sen. Donald DeWitte (R-St. Charles) said the commission did really good work and he’s pleased to see the release of the report.

“As recommendations are considered for implementation, I look forward to working with Gov. Pritzker and my colleagues in the General Assembly on establishing policies that continue to improve the fiscal health of Illinois,” he said. “I am also glad to know additional Child Care Restoration Grants will be distributed in the coming weeks, further supporting child care providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For more information on childhood services in Illinois, go to the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development website.