Child care assistance Chicago: IL expands, extends pandemic benefits

Gov. Pritzker spoke Monday at Back of the Yards child care center
CHICAGO -- Gov. JB Pritzker announced the state will boost spending on child care assistance, extending several grant programs that began during the COVID pandemic and expanding eligibility for assistance for working parents.

The state will boost the rate at which it reimburses child care providers for services through the Child Care Assistance Program by nearly 10% starting in July, and will increase the amount families can earn and still be eligible for subsidized child care through the program, Pritzker said during a news conference Monday at a child care center in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood.

A family of four making up to 225% of the income level at the "poverty line" of $27,750 would be eligible for state help with child care costs, a move that increases the threshold from 180% and could increase the number of children eligible for subsidized care by as many as 20,000.

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The reimbursement rate increases - and a program that will cut the cost of child care for families that include a child care worker to a $1 co-pay - will boost retention rates in the low-wage field, Pritzker said.

"Child care doesn't work without its workforce, and Illinois' child care system is only as strong as its support for and investment in child care workers across the state," said Bethany Patten, associate director of the state Department of Human Services' Division of Early Childhood Office of Programs.

The program had been funded with federal COVID relief dollars, but a spokesman for the state Department of Health Services did not immediately respond to a query about where the money to fund the expanded services would come from.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2022.)