Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou today (Monday, Sept. 13, 2021) announced a series of spending packages that aim to strengthen access to childcare for parents seeking to re-enter the workforce and bolster childcare providers and their employees.
IDHS is expanding Child Care Assistance Program 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 state 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,” Gov. JB Pritzker said. “Without safe and affordable childcare, too many caregivers – especially women – can’t return to the workforce.”
Beginning Oct. 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, which can be found online at https://www.inccrra.org/about/
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 in the coming weeks. Employers are required to pay staff 100% of the bonus amount awarded by the state.
The state 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.
The program has been in place since 2020, when it provided $290 million to small businesses and childcare providers across the state. $270 million in additional funds have been invested in providers, to date, in 2021.
“Of the licensed childcare centers who received a state grant in 2020, 98% are still open and serving children. Approximately 30% fewer childcare centers closed over the last year than closed on average each year from 2016 to 2018.
Currently, 93,406 children are served through the CCAP.
For more information on childcare support opportunities, visit www.ilgateways.com/financial-
SOURCE: state of Illinois news release