GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES NATION-LEADING INVESTMENTS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD
Over $175 million in funding to support child care providers & families
Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) today announced new investments that strengthen and grow Illinois’ early childhood education and care field. These investments continue advancing Illinois as a leading state in the nation for children, families, and the early childhood workforce that support them.
The changes will take effect July 1, 2022, enabling providers to continue serving their local communities and decreasing financial burden for working families.
“Back in 2019, I set a goal that Illinois will be the best state in the nation for families raising young children,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Today, I am proud to announce a set of initiatives to make it easier for families to access quality childcare and early childhood education. When our youngest families succeed, our whole state reaps the benefits. That’s the Illinois our residents deserve—and together, we’re making it happen.”
- Increasing Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) reimbursement rates for all providers by 8% over 2022. CCAP provides low-income, working families with access to affordable, quality child care that allows them to continue working. This represents up to a 30% increase in reimbursement rates over the Governor’s administration.
- Increasing the CCAP income eligibility limit to include families with incomes below 225% of the Federal Poverty Line (up from the previous limits of 200% and 185%) and increasing the eligibility limit at redetermination to 275% of the Federal Poverty Line (up from 250% of the Federal Poverty Line). Using the latest available U.S. Census data, this could increase the number of children served by up to 20,000.
- Continuing the Child Care Restoration Grant Extension through December 2022. It had been set to expire in June 2022. This will provide $60 million to approximately 2,400 childcare providers.
- Extending the Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grant program through June 2023. These grants provide funding for eligible child care centers, child care homes, and group child care homes.
- Lowering copays to $1 for CCAP-eligible families with a parent or guardian working in child care.
- Implementing a 3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to the reimbursement rate for all Early Intervention services.
Additional policy changes are designed to benefit low-income families and support access to child care and other services:
- Eliminating copays for families experiencing homelessness.
- Expanding eligibility to parents/guardians attending online school from home.
- Continuing to provide three months of child care assistance for unemployed parents seeking to reenter the workforce, through December 2022.
- Investing in an early childhood enrollment campaign, including investments in community outreach.
- Extending the hold on family fee collection for Early Intervention services through the end of this calendar year.
In addition to these investments in the Child Care Assistance Program, Illinois’ pandemic relief child care grant programs have provided critical stability for the child care sector. To date, $978 million in funding has reached more than 12,000 providers, with over 85 percent of eligible child care centers and 60 percent of licensed family child care homes receiving direct relief.
“Thanks to Governor Pritzker’s unwavering commitment to early childhood education and care, Illinois is even better positioned as a national leader for families to raise young children,” said Grace B. Hou, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services.
In addition, these grants will help child care providers sustain or grow their business to give more Illinois families access to high-quality early education. Financial support can be used to offset a variety of costs including hiring or retention bonuses for child care staff or to support new and existing learning activities.
“The way our state provides for its children is truly a reflection on the way our state provides for everyone,” said State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “The programs administered by the DHS Division of Early Childhood are crucial to getting families the support they need to give their children the strongest start in life while also teaching skills for parents to be confident in their capacity to provide for their families.”
“Investment in early childhood education is essential, because it sets a child on the path toward success at an early age,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago). “Those early years of a child’s life are essential to their development, and when they begin their education on the right start, they are statistically better off socially, emotionally, and academically.”
“It is inspiring to see the State of Illinois leading the way by making meaningful investments in early childhood education at such a critical time in our state and national history,” said State Representative La Shawn K. Ford (D-Chicago). “The lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising cost of living, and the drastic increases in fuel costs are most burdensome for our State’s vulnerable families. The swift actions that this administration is taking to expand access to child care for working families; reduce the cost of care by lowering and eliminating co-payments; and investing in the early childhood workforce are not only critical but commendable.”
“As our state continues to reckon with the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we know more than ever the importance of a strong, well-funded public child care system,” said Greg Kelley, President at SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana. “For far too long, child care has been unavailable and unaffordable for families and unsustainable for providers, 20% of whom live in poverty. We celebrate this historic announcement from Governor Pritzker to invest in the child care providers who work tirelessly to provide for working families in Illinois. Increased funding for CCAP and lower copays for working parents are crucial steps in fortifying access to affordable, quality child care for all.”
“Providing financial supports for working families and child care providers are necessary for children in our state to succeed, and for the professionals dedicated to their development to thrive,” said Ric Estrada, President and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services. “By supporting children, their families and child care providers, we invest in Illinois by preparing our future workforce for success.”
“Start Early is thrilled by the improvements to Early Intervention and the Child Care Assistance Program announced today by Governor Pritzker, which will help young children, their families, and our early childhood workforce,” said Ireta Gasner, vice president, Illinois Policy, Start Early. “This administration is investing funding and advancing policies that make child care more accessible and affordable for families, support the health and stability of child care programs, and support the early childhood staff who show up every day for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. We are proud to have advocated for many of these changes, which are being advanced in direct response to the needs we’ve heard expressed by families and early childhood providers all across Illinois.”
“We applaud the Governor and the Illinois Department of Human Services for their ongoing commitment to making childcare affordable and accessible to more families,” said April Janney, President & CEO of Illinois Action for Children. “This investment in early child care services, extension of eligibility for job seekers, and grant opportunities are vital to ensuring childcare providers can remain open, and families have more opportunities to better their lives and those of their children.”
NATIONAL MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH HOTLINE INSTITUTED
For help when it’s needed, call or text the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline
TTY Users can use a preferred relay service or dial 711 and then 1-833-943-5746.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) officially launched the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2022 and we are asking for your help to promote the service widely to families and communities with whom you work and others who may find it helpful.
Available 24/7, the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline provides free, confidential support, resources, and referrals from professional counselors to pregnant and postpartum individuals facing mental health challenges. Counselors offer support in English and Spanish and interpreter services are available in 60 additional languages.
In a press release announcing the hotline, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “This new Maternal Mental Health Hotline will not only advance our priorities of tackling the nation’s mental health crisis, but also support our efforts to ensure healthy pregnancies and support new parents.”
We encourage you to share this new resource on social media and other marketing channels. HRSAprovides promotional materials for you to use, including social media graphics, printable wallet cards, and newsletter copy. These materials are also available in Spanish.
If you have any questions about the hotline service please see our online Frequently Asked Questions, also available in Spanish.
NEW DCFS TRAINING REQUIREMENT
Section 7 of the Child Care Act of 1969 (“Act”) has been amended as follows:
By July 1, 2022, all licensed day care home providers, licensed group day care home providers, and licensed day care center directors and classroom staff shall participate in at least one training that includes the topics of early childhood social emotional learning, infant and early childhood mental health, early childhood trauma, or adverse childhood experiences. Current licensed providers, directors, and classroom staff shall complete training by July 1, 2022 and shall participate in training that includes the above topics at least once every 3 years. 225 ILCS 10/7(a)(17) (emphasis added).
If you haven’t already taken a training that meets the new requirement, the Gateways Registry approved training, Trauma-Informed Practice for Child Care Providers, will meet this DCFS requirement. The link to the training is: https://courses.inccrra.org/enrol/index.php?id=1484
You will need your Gateways Registry username and password to access the training. Once completed, it will automatically appear on your Professional Development Record (PDR).
Please contact your DCFS licensing representative if you have any questions.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DEVELOPMENTAL SCREENINGS
Early childhood programs often use developmental screenings to get a snapshot of a child’s development and determine whether further assessment is needed. Parents and teachers can benefit from an understanding of what developmental screenings are and how developmental screening tools work. To learn more, listen to our latest podcast, Developmental Screenings for Young Children: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know, with Dr. Marisa Macy from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Our tip sheet, What Is Developmental Screening?, is a helpful complement to the podcast.
NEW TOOL KIT ADDRESSES TECHNOLOGY
Young children are often attracted to technology, and parents and teachers can use that to their advantage by helping children develop positive and productive relationships with devices. Check out our tool kit, Big Tech and Small Children, and learn about the recommendations for technology offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics, how to select technology for children, and how to set limits around technology.
ONLINE TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILD CARE PROVIDERS
For on-line training opportunities, remember the Gateways i-learning website is always available at: https://courses.inccrra.org. These trainings are Gateways Registry-approved and cover a variety of child development and early childhood education topics. Trainings automatically appear on your Gateways Registry Professional Development Record (PDR), and they are FREE. Be sure to have your Gateways Registry online username and password to login.
Below is a listing of other free or low-cost on-line training opportunities that are available to all child care providers:
- COX Campus: https://www.coxcampus.org/app/courses/
- Early Childhood Investigations Webinars: https://www.earlychildhoodwebinars.com (You can access past webinars at any time.)
- edWeb.net: https://home.edweb.net/webinars/
- Penn State Extension — Better Kid Care: https://extension.psu.edu/programs/betterkidcare
- STARnet: http://starnet.org/home/
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: http://extensiononline.tamu.edu/courses/child_care.php
- The Center: Resources for Teaching and Learning – Early Childhood Professional Learning: https://www.eclearningil.org/professional-learning/
Please contact Jenny Garinger if you have any training questions or if you know of any other helpful online trainings at 217-333-7816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAYMENTS ISSUED BY CHECK OR DEBIT CARD
Starting with payments issued in June, SOME providers that ususally receive child care payments as paper checks may find their payments have instead been issued as a debit card payment. These providers, at some point in the past, had been paid by debit card. It appears these providers probably left the program for some period but then returned as a provider.
If a provider hasn’t been paid for two or more years, the Office of the Comptroller automatically shuts off the electronic payment options (direct deposit or debit card). If the provider begins receiving payments again, the payments are automatically issued as paper checks. Generally, these providers will not be paid on the debit card again unless they complete a new debit card application for reinstatement.
DHS recently sent a report to The Office of the Comptroller to add new providers that had signed up for debit cards. However, an error listed some providers that had previously been paid on the card but that had not necessarily requested currently to be paid on the card. If the provider still has their debit card and it has not expired, the payment(s) should be on that card and will be available to them.
Please note that all payments issued, in whatever form, are legitimate payments that were entered into HSCCMS.
If a provider’s payment has been or will be issued as a debit card payment and if the provider no longer has the card, or if the card has expired, they will need to call the debit card company and request a new card.
Providers should follow these steps to receive a new debit card:
- Call Customer Service number at: 1-866-338-2944. This service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The automated system will ask for the provider’s card number. Do not enter it.
- Next, the message will offer various options; select Option 4. The system will ask for a Social Security Number, Zip Code, and PIN Number. They should only enter their Social Security Number and Zip Code.
- At that point, a Customer Service Representative should come on the line to assist them. The provider should explain that they were just paid by debit card but that it is lost/expired, and they need a new card. The representative will have a new card mailed to them. The card should arrive in 5-7 business days. A card can be expedited in 2-3 days for a $15.00 charge.
OUR OFFICE IS STILL CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC
Please note, the CCRS OFFICE IS STILL CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC. At this time, only University students and staff are permitted in the building. Please, do not attempt to enter the building with the expectation of being able to enter our office. This will not happen. We are trying to determine how to open within University guidelines while keeping our visitors and staff safe. We appreciate your continued patience.
To drop off forms, use the CCRS Drop Box located on the front door of Bevier Hall on Goodwin Avenue. The drop box inside Bevier Hall is closed; only staff and students are allowed inside buildings.
To contact staff, please call 217-333-3252 or 800-325-5516 or submit questions or forms through email at email@example.com or fax at 217-333-2147