(The Center Square) – The state of Illinois has introduced several childcare initiatives in an effort to assist parents who want to go back to work.
The Department of Human Services is expanding the Child Care Assistance Program to includes free coverage for unemployed parents so they can find a job. Currently, 93,406 children are served through the CCAP.
Beginning October 1, parents who are unemployed and actively seeking employment will be eligible for three months of Child Care Assistance, provided they meet the standard eligibility requirements. If parents become employed or enroll in an education program before the end of the three month period and meet requirements, their eligibility will continue for 12 months in total.
“The childcare system allows parents to go to work, and have the peace of mind that their children are well cared for while there are earning a living for their family,” IDHS Secretary Grace Hou said.
The state also announced bonuses for childcare workers. Next month, IDHS will launch the Child Care Workforce Bonus program. All staff at licensed and license-exempt childcare centers and homes will be eligible to receive up to a $1,000 bonus, provided they meet all licensing and health and safety requirements. Workers will receive the payment through their employer between October 2021 and March 2022.
IDHS also announced a final round of 2021 Child Care Restoration Grants. The $300 million in grants will offer childcare providers access to federal funds that they can use to counter the losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program began in 2020, when it provided $290 million to small businesses and childcare providers in Illinois.
Since the pandemic began, Illinois has distributed more than $700 million in COVID-19 relief funding for the state’s childcare industry. On average, childcare centers have received over $270,000 each and childcare homes have received an average of $13,000.
Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, the initiatives will be crucial to the development of young minds.
“To make teaches lives a little easier, to make children’s lives a little easier as they work their way through the educational process,” said Ford.