Illinois giving $270 million to childcare providers, but some say supply shortage an issue

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CHICAGO — As childcare becomes more and more essential in Illinois’ reopening economy, state officials are dedicating $270 million in federal funds to help providers get back in business.

“When you think about what things get spent on in a state budget, this is a thing that has the greatest return on investment,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said Wednesday.

The State of Illinois is using funding from the federal CARES Act to provide $270 million in grants to licensed childcare facilities. Congress is also looking to appropriate more funds.

“The idea begins that our economy is not going to get up to speed but we can make sure that not just our frontline workers that every worker that needs to go back to their jobs has childcare,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL).

Despite getting financial support ahead of reopening earlier this month, some Illinois child care facilities say they’re having a hard time finding supplies. 

Ana Majid is the director of Montessori Magpie, a facility in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood providing services to children up to age six. Since they’re considered less “essential” than medical professions, Majid said it’s harder for them to buy supplies need to keep their kids and staff safe.

”We can only buy like one package of paper towels at a time because we’re not given any preference. We can’t even buy medical gloves at Costco, for example, or on Amazon,” Majid said. “Do I have to buy this stuff on the black market? Where do I find this stuff?”

Pritkzer says emergency providers that remained open during the stay-at-home order have had access to PPE before, and now the state will try to do more to help.

“As we grow the childcare area back we are actually standing up an online store where all the various child care providers across the state will be able to get what they need,” Pritzker said.

The governor’s office says it’s also providing centers with an IDPH letter asking stores to let them buy beyond the usual limits, but some providers are only now learning about this.

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