Gov. Pritzker Announces Nation-Leading Investments in Early Childhood
Over $175 million in funding to support child care providers & families
CHICAGO, IL (STL.News) Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) today announced new investments that strengthen and grow Illinois’ early childhood education and care field. These investments continue advancing Illinois as a leading state in the nation for children, families, and the early childhood workforce that support them.
The changes will take effect July 1, 2022, enabling providers to continue serving their local communities and decreasing financial burden for working families.
“Back in 2019, I set a goal that Illinois will be the best state in the nation for families raising young children,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Today, I am proud to announce a set of initiatives to make it easier for families to access quality childcare and early childhood education. When our youngest families succeed, our whole state reaps the benefits. That’s the Illinois our residents deserve—and together, we’re making it happen.”
• 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 U.S. 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.
Additional policy changes are designed to benefit low-income families and support access to child care and other services:
• 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.
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.
“Thanks to Governor Pritzker’s unwavering commitment to early childhood education and care, Illinois is even better positioned as a national leader for families to raise young children,” said Grace B. Hou, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services.
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 way our state provides for its children is truly a reflection on the way our state provides for everyone,” said State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “The programs administered by the DHS Division of Early Childhood are crucial to getting families the support they need to give their children the strongest start in life while also teaching skills for parents to be confident in their capacity to provide for their families.”
“Investment in early childhood education is essential, because it sets a child on the path toward success at an early age,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). “Those early years of a child’s life are essential to their development, and when they begin their education on the right start, they are statistically better off socially, emotionally, and academically.”
“It is inspiring to see the State of Illinois leading the way by making meaningful investments in early childhood education at such a critical time in our state and national history,” said State Representative La Shawn K. Ford (D-Chicago). “The lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising cost of living, and the drastic increases in fuel costs are most burdensome for our State’s vulnerable families. The swift actions that this administration is taking to expand access to child care for working families; reduce the cost of care by lowering and eliminating co-payments; and investing in the early childhood workforce are not only critical but commendable.”
“As our state continues to reckon with the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we know more than ever the importance of a strong, well-funded public child care system,” said Greg Kelley, President at SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana. “For far too long, child care has been unavailable and unaffordable for families and unsustainable for providers, 20% of whom live in poverty. We celebrate this historic announcement from Governor Pritzker to invest in the child care providers who work tirelessly to provide for working families in Illinois. Increased funding for CCAP and lower copays for working parents are crucial steps in fortifying access to affordable, quality child care for all.”
“Providing financial supports for working families and child care providers are necessary for children in our state to succeed, and for the professionals dedicated to their development to thrive,” said Ric Estrada, President and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services. “By supporting children, their families and child care providers, we invest in Illinois by preparing our future workforce for success.”
“Start Early is thrilled by the improvements to Early Intervention and the Child Care Assistance Program announced today by Governor Pritzker, which will help young children, their families, and our early childhood workforce,” said Ireta Gasner, vice president, Illinois Policy, Start Early. “This administration is investing funding and advancing policies that make child care more accessible and affordable for families, support the health and stability of child care programs, and support the early childhood staff who show up every day for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. We are proud to have advocated for many of these changes, which are being advanced in direct response to the needs we’ve heard expressed by families and early childhood providers all across Illinois.”
“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.”
Today’s announcement builds on and furthers the Governor’s commitment and financial support to the early childhood system throughout the pandemic. Currently, more than 100,000 Illinois children are served through the CCAP.