Child Care Recovery Grants to Help Recruit and Retain a Robust Early Childhood Workforce

Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Grace B. Hou announced this week that $300 million in new relief grants will be made available to child care providers across the state. The state is also extending a previous grant program by providing nearly $50 million to previous grant recipients.

This brings the state’s child care pandemic relief grant total to more than $1 billion.

Illinois’ child care grant program has provided stability for the industry, with 97 percent of 2020’s grant recipients still open and operating today. Already, $725 million in funding has reached more than 5,000 providers, with 85 percent of eligible child care centers and 40 percent of licensed family child care homes receiving direct relief.

Applications for this newest round of funding are due in early January, with funding beginning to flow in February 2022 and through January 2023. This will support child care providers with approximately $25,000 per classroom per year, child care group homes with $15,000 per year, and child care homes with approximately $10,000 per year. With an eye toward equity, additional funding will be made available for programs that demonstrate they reach underserved communities. These grants will support providers with predictable funding to cover increased wages and other operational costs.

To help recruit and retain staff, at least 50 percent of these funds must be invested in new personnel and workforce initiatives, with a focus on increasing compensation and benefits.

In addition to the new $300 million grant program, Governor Pritzker and Secretary Hou announced a $45 million, six-month extension to the Child Care Restoration Grants to best assist providers not eligible for the new round of grants.

The state’s comprehensive support programming has prevented the mass closure of child care facilities across the state and provided parents with safe places to care for their children as they reenter the workforce. Among various programs to help working families, Illinois has decreased Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) co-pays for 80 percent of participating families. Families with incomes below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level have seen their monthly co-pays reduced to $1.

This announcement builds and furthers the State’s commitment and financial support to the early childhood system throughout the pandemic.

Application information about the newest round of grants and Restoration Grant extension will be available for providers through the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA).

Currently, more than 95,000 Illinois children are served through the CCAP. For more information on child care support opportunities, visit the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Early Childhood.