SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) today announced that over $156 million in Business Interruption Grants (BIG) funding has been provided to 4,686 child care providers across Illinois facing challenges as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The first round of funding helped child care centers and homes in 95 counties across the state. Forty-seven percent of the grant funds were awarded to childcare programs located in areas that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
“Anyone who knows anything about what it takes to raise a family knows that without quality, affordable child care, there is no economic opportunity for working parents, and especially working mothers,” Pritzker said. “That’s why – even in these incredibly difficult economic times – Illinois directed federal pandemic response dollars to helping child care providers operate in safer, smaller group sizes without needing to impose large tuition increases on families.”
He added, “To date, I’m proud to say that over half of that funding has already been distributed – including over $65,000 to Christian Child Care. Remaining on track to become the best state in the nation to raise young children is achievable, even in these difficult times. Holding ourselves to the highest standards when it comes to our youngest children is vital to strengthening the social and economic fabric of our state and our nation.”
“Under the leadership of Governor Pritzker, Illinois has acted swiftly to provide businesses across the state with supports needed to offset their losses, prepare for a safe reopening and put our state economy back on track,” said Erin Guthrie, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). “These latest BIG grants for childcare providers are crucial as Illinois works to reopen our state safely, and bring more of our residents back to work. Working in partnership with IDHS and businesses across the state, we will continue to leverage the equity framework provided through these programs to ensure that businesses from every community across our state have a shot at emergency relief dollars that will help them make ends meet.”
“Governor Pritzker clearly recognizes the importance of investing in childcare, teachers, our children and caregivers, which are a top priority as we work toward economic recovery and getting families back to work. I am humbled to think of all the children who will benefit from this latest round of BIG grants. Working in conjunction with DCEO, we are fully committed to help childcare businesses across the state get every dollar possible to help rebuild after an unimaginable pandemic,” said Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Secretary Grace Hou.
“Every educator will tell you that these early years are profoundly important to long-term outcomes for our children,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “These dollars represent an investment not only in the families of our essential workers, but also in the healthy future of our communities.”