Newsletter

July 2022

Announcements

Governor Pritzker Launches Illinois Cares for Kids Statewide Enrollment Campaign "I Got Love / ¡Siento Amor!"

Governor JB Pritzker announced the launch of "I Got Love / ¡Siento Amor!", the statewide enrollment campaign for childcare and early education services, featuring Illinois artists, musicians, and production partners.


Since March 2020, the state has provided $978 million in early childhood stability and recovery. While this investment allowed providers to keep their doors open (97% of licensed provider recipients remained open at the end of 2021), enrollment has decreased as an ongoing result of the pandemic.


To help increase early childhood and care enrollment statewide, the campaign is investing $12.7 million in amplifying information about Illinois' one-stop-shop for all things early childhood, the Illinois Cares for Kids website, which has a search engine for local programs, information on child care subsidy programs, and many other resources on the importance of early learning. Illinois Cares for Kids is a place parents, grandparents, caretakers, teachers, and childcare providers can access all things related to early childhood in Illinois.


"We're making Illinois the best state in the nation to raise a child - and it's essential to ensure families have access to affordable early childhood education and care to build a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Illinois Cares for Kids helps Illinois families choose from hundreds of local providers to find the right match for their children."


The ‘I Got Love / ¡Siento Amor! campaign is available in English and Spanish and features an Illinois-based local artistic collaboration spreading the message that Illinois is full of people who care. The campaign will target families in need of childcare and early learning supports to showcase the importance of early learning programs and how the state can support families looking to enroll in one. "I Got Love' / ¡Siento Amor! was a natural vehicle to musically convey the message. Nat King Cole, the singer of "I Got Love," has roots in Illinois, having gained early fame as a piano player while living in Chicago.


The enrollment campaign is part of Governor Pritzker's Learning Renewal Efforts and is a collaboration between the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development, Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, Illinois Department of Human Services, and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


"We want to increase awareness among families that early childhood education programs are consistently open, safe, and serving children. We want Illinois families to feel empowered to quickly and efficiently locate early childhood education educators and resources," said Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan, Executive Director, Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.


The Illinois Department of Human Services, through the Division of Early Childhood, provided funding for community-based outreach grants. These grants support local community outreach to increase enrollment and are available to all 102 counties across Illinois. The state identified a need to reach communities and families with timely, accurate information necessary to make informed decisions about the well-being of their children.


"Families need to know the resources and options available to them when it comes to early learning and childcare," said Secretary Grace Hou, Illinois Department of Human Services. "This outreach campaign will give parents and caregivers struggling with the many stressors of raising a family resources to find safe providers they trust and can partner with to help children get ahead."


"It's important that families feel comfortable with the people taking care of their children," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. "Illinois Cares for Kids shows families the quality of care they can receive and gives parents and caretakers the tools to make informed decisions about childcare and early learning."


The campaign also includes a statewide Text Messaging Platform, Ready for K, that offers fun facts and tips on children's learning and development, available in multiple languages.


More information on programs is available at www.illinoiscaresforkids.org/.

Birth to Five Illinois: New Hires, Regional Webpages & New Positions

New Regional Council Managers


The hiring of 39 Regional Council Managers, one in each of the State’s 39 regions, marks the completion of the foundational level of the Birth to Five Illinois statewide regional and community systems that Illinois has committed to building to better serve families who have been historically marginalized. The third and final cohort of Regional Council Managers joined the Birth to Five Illinois Team on July 18, 2022 (read the press release or visit the Team page to learn more about who will be leading this work in your region).

New Region Webpages


Dedicated webpages for each region are now live on the Birth to Five Illinois website where you can meet your Regional Council Manager, view region-specific information, and subscribe to your regional newsletter.

Find Your Region

We’re Still Hiring!


The Birth to Five Illinois Family & Community Engagement Specialist and Regional Support Administrator positions have been posted for several regions of the State. Positions for additional regions will be posted soon and interested applicants are encouraged to bookmark the page. To ensure connection within their communities, applicants must live or have experience in the region for which they apply. 

Learn More & Apply Now

Next Step: Councils


Please stay tuned to the Birth to Five Illinois website and emails for more information. For those interested in joining one of your region’s Councils, we invite you to complete an Interest Form or visit our Councils page to learn more.

Action Council Interest Form
Family Council Interest Form

Click here to sign up from newsletters from Birth to Five Illinois. 

Illinois Family Relief Plan Takes Effect; School Supply Tax Savings August 5-14

On July 1, 2022, the Illinois Family Relief Plan went into effect to provide relief on grocery tax, gas tax, and property taxes. The plan totals an estimated $1.83 billion in relief, including income and property tax rebates and a temporary cut in several sales taxes.

 

"Starting tomorrow, every Illinoisan will get tax relief on essentials: groceries, gas, your home, and back-to-school supplies, with even more tax relief going into effect next year," said Governor JB Pritzker.


The Family Relief Plan includes several tax holidays, meaning a temporary cut in taxes, including:

  • Groceries: The state's 1% sales tax on groceries will be suspended July 1 through June 30, 2023.
  • Gas: The state's normally scheduled increase in the motor fuel tax will be delayed from July 1 to January 2023.
  • School supplies: Sales taxes for qualified clothing and school-related items will be reduced from 6.25% to 1.25% for a 10-day window from August 5 to 14.


For additional information, taxpayers may visit IDOR's website. Taxpayer representatives can also provide assistance at 1- 800-732-8866 or 217-782-3336.

New “988” National Dialing Code for Crisis and Suicide Lifeline

Earlier this month the US launched “988”, an easy-to-remember number, to access the National Crisis and Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline is a national network of over 200 local, independent crisis centers equipped to help people in mental health related distress or experiencing a suicidal crisis via call, chat, or text. The Lifeline provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the U.S.


Numerous studies have shown that the Lifeline works—most callers are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less suicidal, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking to a Lifeline crisis counselor.


For more information visit Lifeline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has added downloadable print files for wallet cards, magnets, and posters to its 988 Partner Toolkit, along with key messages, frequently asked questions, fact sheets (English and Spanish), radio PSA scripts (English and Spanish), and more.

Opportunities

The IL Early Childhood Construction Grant Program & QFA Grant Program are here!

The Illinois Early Childhood Construction Grant Program and the QFA Grant & Professional Development Program are now accepting applications! 


IL Early Childhood Construction Grant


The Illinois Early Childhood Construction Grant (ECCG) Program is a state-sponsored initiative to invest in quality early childhood education (ECE) facilities where they are most needed. The ECCG Program will award ECE providers $100 million in grants ($60 million in late fall 2022, and the remaining $40 million at a later date) to support the renovation, expansion, and construction of new facilities to serve more children ages. Any public school district or nonprofit that meets Illinois state standards for providing ECE services, including both nonprofit child care centers and group child care homes, are eligible to apply. For-profit ECE providers of any type and family child care homes are not eligible for these grants.


Providers can apply through the Illinois Capital Development Board webpageApplications are due by Monday, October 10, 2022. In the coming weeks, there will be additional information and resources, including an updated FAQ documents, to assist preparing an application for the IL ECCG Program. Additionally, IFF will host two information sessions that will walk through the application and provide tips and advice on how to prepare a strong application. Click here to learn more and register for an upcoming information session.


QFA Grant & Professional Development Program


The IFF QFA Grant & Professional Development Program provides grants of up to $50,000 to center-based ECE providers to expand infant-toddler capacity and/or enhance facility quality. The program also includes an eight-week professional and leadership development workshop series focused on enhancing provider knowledge on creating and maintaining high-quality facilities and developing sustainable financial practices. In 2022, the program will be available to providers serving East St. Louis District 189, with more communities to come in 2023. As part of the IL ECE community, we encourage sharing this opportunity with colleagues located in East St. Louis.


Click here to learn more, sign up for upcoming information sessions, and apply. Applications for the QFA Grant & Professional Development Program are due by 5pm CST on Monday, August 15, 2022.


For questions, reach out at qfa@iff.org and visit www.iff.org/QFA for regular updates.

Region 5 Office of Child Care Equity Update: Affordable Connectivity Program

The Region 5 Office of Child Care has announced that the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is now open. The ACP is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program to help low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices.


Eligible households may receive:

  • Up to $30/month discount on internet service.
  • Up to $75/month discount if the household is on qualifying Tribal lands.
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)


Please spread the word about this opportunity with families. Eligible households can enroll in the ACP through an approved provider or by visiting one of two simple and easy-to-use websites: ACPBenefit.org or GetInternet.gov.


The FCC has a toolkit with flyers, social media content, ACP application materials and more. More detailed facts about the overall program can be found on the ACP fact sheet.


Households with income at or below 200 percent of the poverty level are eligible for the subsidy. Some households are automatically eligible for the ACP, without the need to prove their income, if at least one member of the household is receiving benefits from certain federal programs, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).


Only one monthly service discount and one device discount is allowed per household. Not all participating internet service providers offer device discounts.


To learn more about the ACP program or to become a partner, visit www.fcc.gov/acp. If you have any questions contact ACPinfo@fcc.gov.


We hope that you will join us in promoting the Affordable Connectivity Program so that more families and households struggling to afford internet service might get connected.

Webinar for the Promise Neighborhoods Program Funding Opportunity

In late June, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a new round of funding available for the Promise Neighborhoods Program, which works to significantly improve the academic and developmental outcomes of children living in the most distressed communities of the United States. This is a critical opportunity to ensure that the needs of young children are included. Applications for this new round of federal funding are due on Oct. 7, and ED plans to make awards of between $4M-$6M to communities across the country.


Register to join Start Early for an informational webinar on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 10 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. CT / 1 p.m. ET to learn about:

  • Preparing a successful Promise Neighborhood grant application for your community
  • Ensuring you receive all the available points for including early childhood education and priority populations
  • Opportunities for technical assistance and support for implementing your community’s vision


To learn more about the Promise Neighborhood Program, visit the Office of Elementary & Secondary Education website.

Featured Resources

PDG B-5 Erikson/DCFS Early Childhood Development Annual Report 2021

The 2021 Annual Report is now available for the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five’s Erikson Institute and Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Early Childhood Project. The project expands access to home visiting services for DCFS Intact Families in which the mother is pregnant or a child in the family is less than six months old. Eligible families are identified by DCFS and for those who consent to home visiting, their information is sent to a team of Home Visiting Specialists (HV Specialists). The HV Specialists make referrals to evidence-based home visiting services and inform caseworkers on the progress of the referrals. Referrals are also made to Early Intervention for eligible families.


A highlight from the report is in 2021, 691 families were identified as eligible for services while 243 families were referred to home visiting programs. For more information, contact Thay Guirguis who oversees the team of HV specialists.

Download Annual Report

Resources

Office of Child Care of the Administration for Children and Families’ Workforce Wellness Resources

The Office of Child Care of the Administration for Children and Families has shared resources to support a culture of staff wellness in early childhood education. Research has shown that quality in early childhood education is associated with staff psychological well-being, positive organizational climate, higher job satisfaction, and retention rates. There are several strategies that agencies can do now to support workforce wellness.


Reading Resources

Read about the importance of promoting staff wellness, including mental health, well-being, and occupational satisfaction in early childhood education.


Supporting the Wellness of All Staff in the Head Start Workforce is an Information Memorandum (IM) that outlines strategies that Head Start programs can use to create a working environment that promotes a culture of wellness. The strategies outlined in this IM offer approaches to supporting wellness for early educators in any early care and education program.


Practicing Self-Care and Professionalism includes resources to support self-care and reasons for why this is a critical piece of supporting the early childhood workforce.


Supporting and Promoting Mental Health in Out-of-School Time is a practice brief that explores some current mental health needs of school-age children, their families, and the out-of-school-time workforce.


Caring for Ourselves as We Care for Others is a brief from the Understanding Trauma and Healing in Adults series that provides information about trauma and how traumatic events can affect families and staff.


Innovative Examples

Learn how states, territories, and Tribes are prioritizing staff wellness for the early education workforce.


Be Well Care Well: Promoting the Well-Being of Child Care Providers is a program by the South Carolina Program for Infant/Toddler Care. It strives to build resiliency in early childhood education providers to reduce and buffer the effects of stress and hardship. In doing so, it aims to strengthen providers' ability to sensitively meet the developing social-emotional needs of young children in their care.


Prioritizing Staff Wellness in Unprecedented Times is a webinar that features two Head Start directors who share successful approaches to improving staff retention and wellness during the pandemic. They share strategies that apply across early childhood settings and discuss challenges they faced as well as opportunities that stemmed from these struggles.


In Case You Missed It


View recorded webinars on staff wellness in the early education workforce.

Compassion Fatigue: Can We Care Too Much? is a webinar that explores the meaning of compassion fatigue, causes and symptoms, and strategies for self-care in the early childhood field. In addition, it offers strategies to support your work—whether you are a state policy professional, a professional development or technical assistance provider, or a child care professional.


Find resources and learn about strategies to support workforce wellness on the Mental Health page and COVID-19 and the Head Start Community page, both from the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center.


Explore the latest research on workforce wellness with Research Connections.


Learn about staff wellness initiatives as a workforce recruitment and retention strategy and find resources to support the early care and education workforce on the Office of Early Childhood Development webpage.

Maternal and Child Health

Help Families Keep Medicaid Coverage

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) is preparing for the end of the Federal Covid-19 Public Health Emergency. They will need to send out paperwork and are asking Medicaid customers to update their mailing address if it has changed. Families can update their address with Illinois Medicaid by calling 877-805-5312 from 7:45 am to 4:30 pm or visit the website.


HFS is asking for assistance to reach as many people as possible and has created a toolkit with messages, flyers and social media templates. They will soon be available in multiple languages. Please distribute these messages far and wide to reach as many people who use Illinois Medicaid as possible.

Update an Address
Download HFS Messaging Toolkit
COVID-19 Resources

Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Day Care

To help early care and education (ECE) program administrators support safe, in-person learning and keep ECE programs open, while managing the spread of COVID-19, the Department of Child and Family Services has issued new guidance, fully adopting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning. The CDC guidance is based on the COVID-19 Community Levels, and provides flexibility so ECE programs can adapt to changing local situations, including periods of increased community health impacts from COVID-19. For example, when Community Levels are high, universal masking is recommended.

Download DCFS Guidance
Download CDC Guidance

US Secretaries from HHS and Education send joint letter to ECEC field

In a joint letter to the early care and education field Secretaries Xavier Becerra U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and Miguel A. Cardona, Ed.D., U.S. Secretary of Education thank child care and education providers for their continued, essential work and offer ways they can promote children’s vaccination. They encourage child care leaders and educators to:

  • Encourage parents to connect with local trusted medical providers and health systems in your community
  • Distribute information about the COVID-19 vaccine to all families with children eligible for vaccination
  • Partner with healthcare providers to host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at your facility or in your neighborhood


For resources for parents, visit Illinois Vaccinates.

Download the Letter