Illinois offers child care subsidy for essential workers during COVID crisis

CHICAGO – Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced last week an expansion of eligibility to support essential workers’ child care needs and an increase in financial support for emergency child care centers and homes.

“We have essential workers and healthcare professionals who can’t stay home with their kids because they are heroically going out to do their jobs, which are vital for public safety and to make sure other families can get the food and gas and pharmacy goods they may need,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Our essential workforce deserves to know their kids are safe and cared for in a small and affordable group setting.”

Effective April 1st, all essential workers in health care, human services, essential government services, and essential infrastructure now qualify for the state’s Child Care Assistance Program. The state will cover most of the cost of care provided by emergency child care centers and homes. This expansion of eligibility includes those working as nurses and doctors, supporting staff in hospitals, grocery store clerks and food producers.
Full details and applications for assistance are available on the Department of Human Services (IDHS) website and
For emergency child care centers and homes, the state will be paying enhanced reimbursement rates effective April 1st. The enhanced reimbursement rate is 30 percent above the usual pay rate. The change seeks to reflect the additional costs of providing care in smaller groups. 
Child care centers that are interested in reopening as emergency child centers are able to apply for a permit through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Information is available on the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) website Home child care providers do not need a permit, and can serve up to 6 children.
This effort builds on previous initiatives expanding financial relief to child care providers across Illinois.
The state developed a waiver process to allow child care providers to be paid for all of their enrolled children in the Child Care Assistance Program for March and April so that child care staff could continue to receive pay through this crisis. The state also reduced parent co-payments in April and May to $1 per month to relieve cost burdens on parents and to make sure that providers don’t miss out on this important revenue.  
The state established the Emergency Child Care program to ensure there would be safe child care homes and centers, with smaller group sizes, to care for children of essential workers. Over 550 centers have received the Emergency ChildCare permit. Over 1,500 home child care providers have reported that they are still providing care, many of them on the critical night and weekend shifts that are so necessary for essential workers.
Last week the state also announced one-time stipends to providers. 1,100 homes and centers have already applied. Child care providers that are interested in applying should contact their local Child Care Resource & Referral agency, or download the application from
The state is providing these resources to child care providers because it recognizes that it is critical to safeguard the fiscal stability of providers until they are ready to serve families again when it is safe for them to fully re-open.

Of particular note to TMA manufacturing industry members, the term “essential workers” (and thus those that qualify for this child care subsidy in Illinois) is partially defined in Governor Pritzker’s COVID-19 Executive Order No. 8 as those involved in the:

t. Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries. Manufacturing companies, distributors, and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, chemicals and sanitization, waste pickup and disposal, agriculture, food and beverage, transportation, energy, steel and steel products, petroleum and fuel, mining, construction, national defense, communications, as well as products used by other Essential Businesses and Operations.

For more information, visit the Illinois Department of Human Services website HERE.