Illinois families could pay as little as $1/mo for childcare under financial assistance expansion

Regional News

DECATUR, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Under a new plan by the Pritzker administration, 80% of families who qualify for childcare assistance will pay just $1 per month. Gov. JB Pritzker announced the new plan Tuesday at the Decatur Family YMCA in Decatur.

“When I took office, I said that we are aiming to make Illinois the best state in the nation for families raising young children. Today, I’m proud to announce another important step in that direction. We are making a series of new investments to make childcare more affordable for Illinois families, and deliver more dollars to providers,” Pritzker said. “We’re ensuring quality childcare is accessible for more people – allowing more people to return to work without worry about where their kids will go during the day and helping Illinois’ childcare network rebuild after the last 16 months.”

Beginning July 1, DHS will facilitate the following improvements:

  • Reducing family payments: Family payments or copayments — the monthly amount parents are required to pay to childcare providers for the cost of their child care — will be permanently lowered to $1 per month for families with incomes at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL). 80% of all families will see a reduction in their monthly co-pay.
  • Preserving co-pay percentage limits: Family payments will remain permanently capped at 7% of family income, with co-pays for 80% of families falling below that rate. 
  • Helping families as income grows: Going forward, CCAP families will now remain eligible until the family’s income surpasses 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), instead of the current cap of 225%. The income thresholds to be eligible for and to remain on the Child Care Assistance Program have been updated to current FPL and State Median Income (SMI) amounts.  Payments will increase from there on a sliding scale based on family income. These improvements allow families more flexibility as people begin to return to work and rebuild from the financial impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.
  • Increasing reimbursement rates by 3.5% for all CCAP providers to help providers keep their doors open and fully recover from the pandemic.
  • Improving predictability for providers: If a child receiving CCAP attends at least 70% of eligible days in a month, providers will be paid for the full month. The previous policy required an 80% attendance rate. This change will allow for more stable payments for providers in the event of occasional absences. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic triggered an acute child care crisis.  Working parents lost care and child-care workers found themselves without jobs,” Grace B. Hou, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, said. “Parents, mostly mothers, left jobs or reduced hours to fill the gap. Child care is the work that enables all other work; child care allows parents to work while their children experience the myriad of benefits that come from high-quality early care and education and I’m pleased to work with Governor Pritzker to provide this much needed relief.”

IDHS’ Child Care Assistance Program provides low-income, working families with access to affordable, quality child care that allows them to continue working and contributes to the healthy, social and emotional development of the child. Families can stay connected with the program on the Child Care Assistance Program Facebook page or at the IDHS website.

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