ILLINOIS (WEHT) – Illinois made some new investments in early child care.
A press release says Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced new investments that strengthen and grow Illinois’ early childhood education and care field. A press release from the Governor’s Office says these investments continue advancing Illinois as a leading state in the nation for children, families, and the early childhood workforce that support them.
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“We applaud the Governor and the Illinois Department of Human Services for their ongoing commitment to making childcare affordable and accessible to more families,” said April Janney, President & CEO of Illinois Action for Children. “This investment in early child care services, extension of eligibility for job seekers, and grant opportunities are vital to ensuring childcare providers can remain open, and families have more opportunities to better their lives and those of their children.”
The Governor’s Office says the initiatives include:
- Increasing Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) reimbursement rates for all providers by 8% over 2022. CCAP provides low-income, working families with access to affordable, quality child care that allows them to continue working. This represents up to a 30% increase in reimbursement rates over the Governor’s administration.
- Increasing the CCAP income eligibility limit to include families with incomes below 225% of the Federal Poverty Line (up from the previous limits of 200% and 185%) and increasing the eligibility limit at redetermination to 275% of the Federal Poverty Line (up from 250% of the Federal Poverty Line). Using the latest available US Census data, this could increase the number of children served by up to 20,000.
- Continuing the Child Care Restoration Grant Extension through December 2022. It had been set to expire in June 2022. This will provide $60 million to approximately 2,400 childcare providers.
- Extending the Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grant program through June 2023. These grants provide funding for eligible child care centers, child care homes, and group child care homes.
- Lowering copays to $1 for CCAP-eligible families with a parent or guardian working in child care.
- Implementing a 3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to the reimbursement rate for all Early Intervention services.
The Governor’s Office says additional policy changes are designed to benefit low-income families and support access to child care and other services by:
- Eliminating copays for families experiencing homelessness.
- Expanding eligibility to parents/guardians attending online school from home.
- Continuing to provide three months of child care assistance for unemployed parents seeking to reenter the workforce, through December 2022.
- Investing in an early childhood enrollment campaign, including investments in community outreach.
- Extending the hold on family fee collection for Early Intervention services through the end of this calendar year.
The press release says in addition to these investments in the Child Care Assistance Program, Illinois’ pandemic relief child care grant programs have provided critical stability for the child care sector. To date, $978 million in funding has reached more than 12,000 providers, with over 85 percent of eligible child care centers and 60 percent of licensed family child care homes receiving direct relief.
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The Governor’s Office says in addition, these grants will help child care providers sustain or grow their business to give more Illinois families access to high-quality early education. Financial support can be used to offset a variety of costs including hiring or retention bonuses for child care staff or to support new and existing learning activities.
The press release says the changes will take effect July 1, enabling providers to continue serving their local communities and decreasing financial burden for working families. For more information on child care support opportunities, visit the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Early Childhood.