Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday announced $300 million in grants to child care providers across the state, saying supporting day cares and other centers are “one of the best investments we can make as a state.”
“Working families need child care, businesses need workers,” Pritzker said. “Today, we’re making it more affordable for Illinois families, helping parents — especially mothers — go back to work and bolstering providers’ ability to have a full payroll of well-trained child care workers.”
Applications for the latest round of funding are due by early January, with the state expecting to disburse the money beginning in February.
Along with the $300 million for child care providers who have not previously applied for state funds, Illinois will also have a roughly $50 million pool of money for previous grant recipients.
The grants will go to child care homes and centers that serve the roughly 95,000 Illinois children whose families receive support through the state’s child care assistance program.
At least 50% of the money must be invested in recruiting new personnel and establishing or maintaining workforce initiatives that increase compensation and benefits, according to a news release about the grants.
The grants will provide child care providers with about $25,000 per classroom per year; child care group homes with $15,000 per year; and child care homes with about $10,000 per year in the hopes of helping those providers cover increased wages and other costs of operation.
The state has already given out $725 million to more than 5,000 providers since 2020.
The state’s child care workforce is “vital to the success of Illinois families and the Illinois economy,” Pritzker said.
Carolina Torres said having reliable child care has allowed her to pursue a college degree.
Torres’ three children have attended Chicago Commons, which offers services for children, adults and seniors, something she says has been a “blessing” for her family.
Chicago Commons helped her children learn to read and write, and also helped with basic needs like diapers as well as food, rent and utilities.
Torres said she’s now enrolled in an associate’s degree program run by Chicago Commons and the Chicago City Colleges because “my children are in a safe and loving environment.”
“Keeping these centers open means hope and opportunities for parents like me and building a strong foundation for lifelong learning for my kids,” Torres said. “There are moments when I want to put it on pause. When that happens, I think of my children and the message I am sending to them by staying in school.”
“We need to keep these centers open. For me, it’s personal because I look forward to coming back and working at a place like this when I graduate.”
Editor’s note: Carolina Torres’ name was incorrect in an earlier version of this article.