Essential Workers Only Pay $1 A Month For Daycare During Pandemic

ILLINOIS — Parents with essential jobs can get subsidized daycare for $1 a month – if they can find a center with an opening.

Effective April 1, all essential workers in health care, human services, government services and infrastructure qualify for Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program.

During April and May, essential workers who fill out the paperwork and qualify will pay $1 a month for daycare.

Eligible workers include hospital staff, grocery store clerks, food producers, police and firefighters.

“They are heroically going out to do their jobs, which are vital for public safety,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “Our essential workforce deserves to know their kids are safe and cared for in a small and affordable group setting.”

Julie Reich is the director at the Calvary Church daycare in Springfield. Her center is one of four Springfield-based daycare centers that are open – operating under special emergency waivers.

“There isn’t enough daycare. There really isn’t,” Reich said.

Calvary has a waiting list for openings, she said.

Special operating regulations mean that Calvary had to reduce the number of children that can enroll. Even though Calvary has fewer participants, Reich has had to add more staff. She is rotating workers throughout the week to make sure that they can rest up and stay healthy.

Reich said she remains upbeat and energetic – even at the end of a long day.

“If you aren’t perky in this job, you shouldn’t be doing it,” she joked.

Reich said she is aware of the risks while remaining open during the pandemic. The parents of her charges come in contact with the virus at their jobs.

Parents and children who come to the door have their temperatures taken with forehead thermometers before they can come inside. No more than 10 children are allowed in a room. The children along with two or three staff members stay together in their assigned room all day, to reduce health risks.

Cleanliness is always important in a daycare, but coronavirus has upped Calvary’s cleaning routine, Reich said. Staff members go through a lot of bleach. They wipe down all the walls every night after the children go home.

Details and applications for assistance are available on the Department of Human Services website DHS.illinois.gov/helpishere and coronavirus.illinois.gov.

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