This Issue: Emergency Child Care Resources and More

Illinois Action for Children sends our gratitude and appreciation to the providers and partners who continue to support Illinois families during this unprecedented time. In this month’s issue of eAdvocate, we focus on highlighting Illinois’ emergency child care resources. You can find more information on our new COVID-19 microsite for additional resources and FAQs.


Emergency Child Care Resources

IAFC has launched "Caring for Children During COVID-19," a new e-Newsletter that goes out every Friday. This weekly communication shares the latest news, updates, and resources for the early care and education community during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have not yet signed up to receive these emails, please click here.

  1. The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) has many resources regarding COVID- 19 including daily updates from state agencies.

  2. Illinois Department of Human Services’ (IDHS) website includes information on the new COVID- 19 Public Health Emergency Temporary Attendance Exemption Policy as well as the COVID- 19 Attendance Exemption Form for providers.

  3. For families and providers looking for more information about emergency licensing to provide child care, please visit this website from GOECD.

  4. The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) hosted a webinar that gave an overview of the current federal and state supports available to providers, including for-profit and non-profit, child care and preschool, center- and home-based, licensed and license-exempt. (4.6.20)


Early Childhood Block Grant – RFP Extension

Due to the COVID-19 school closures, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) extended the FY21 RFP submission deadline until April 15, 2020. All applications are due via electronic or U.S. mail on April 15, 2020 at 4 p.m.

Unfortunately, ISBE is not able to offer the option of hand delivered applications due to the closing of State buildings.

Applicants who already submitted their FY21 ECBG application in response to this RFP may revise, amend and resubmit their applications by the extended submission deadline of April 15, 2020 at 4 p.m. More information is available on ISBE’s website .


Spring into Action Canceled Due to COVID-19

Sadly, we have decided to cancel Spring into Action Conference, Legislative Reception and Dinner, and Early Childhood Advocacy Day this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team is working on developing virtual advocacy workshops, so keep on the lookout for more information!

Please contact Liz Wilson for any questions regarding a refund if you were registered.


Teach Plus Fellowship

Applications are now open for the 2020-2021 Teach Plus Illinois Early Childhood Education Policy Fellowship. This highly-selective leadership opportunity is for outstanding Illinois early childhood educators looking to deepen their knowledge of education policy and gain a voice in decisions that affect students and the early childhood profession. Early childhood educators will expand their influence without leaving the classroom and receive a $1,600 stipend for their commitment. No prior policy experience required. Applications are due April 24. Please contact Sinthu Ramalingam with any additional questions.


Provider Spotlight: Linda Wang, Director, HANA Early Childhood Center

 
  1. In what ways has COVID-19 affected your business the most? We had to close our operations; we can no longer do what we are meant to do which is supporting our families in so many different ways. We support them not only through child care but also with services such as counseling, ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, job workforce placement, and with other specific needs a child may have.

  2. Will you be providing emergency childcare for essential workers? If so, what has helped you the most in preparing for this?  We thought about this deeply. We were able to check in with our families and all teachers about what our families are doing during this closure for child care. It seems that the majority were able to arrange for child care, and they are okay with their current arrangement and the center being closed.

    The service and missions’ part of us wants to provide care, but I have to think about my staff and the safety of our families. We don’t want to be the first child care center that has cases; there’s just no incentive for us to stay open. I have to consider my operation costs, too.

  3. How have your daily activities with children and families changed during this time? Our staff is doing multiple things right now. Right before we closed teachers prepared activity packets for the children. At the time we thought we were only closing for a week/week and a half, and so we prepared activities and books through our classroom lending library. Families received individualized activities for their children, for example, name- writing practice or using specific art activities. Teachers put together additional craft materials and the parents and kids have been enjoying that.

    Now, parents are asking for more [due to the extended closure], and so we have staggered opening the center so teachers can go in at different times, and families can come by to pick up materials. Some teachers are working on doing activities digitally, but our concern is that some families won’t have access to certain technology for this. One teacher came up with a structured system of distribution every few days where parents can sign off on activities (for older children), and we have dabbled with the idea of teachers making videos or a YouTube page.

  4. How do you think this public health crisis will affect the children you serve? In a worst-case scenario, they get infected or someone close to them does. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, and the children don’t have to go through that trauma. This has put a pause in our everyday routines—the repetition and structure for the children. Structure is so important, and it takes a long time to establish. So, to put a pause on that, I expect that when we do open we’ll have a little bit of regression. Maybe we’ll have some behavioral challenges because who knows what experiences may have happened at home during this break.

    Two weeks is one thing, but this is a long time. We’re a year-round center, and we’re not used to having breaks like this. At HANA Center, we get seven days between Christmas and New Year, and in that time, we don’t see much of a difference [in the children], but with a month’s break, we’ll have to do lot of review as to our routines and schedules. We’ll make sure we’re checking in with children’s social emotional needs and gauge how they’re doing mentally and emotionally.

    This particular age group has attachment challenges, so spending a whole month at home and returning to us will be challenging. Although, my kid asks daily if she’s going back to school—so I think she’ll be ready! I’m sure there are lot of children who are ready to go back too. Every transition is a challenge.

  5. What activities or communications are you incorporating with families regarding the Census? We have been preparing our families and students about the Census. We were hoping to do more in April, but in preparation for the Census we incorporated topics into our curriculum, and we built background knowledge with the staff. Through meetings and parent workshops we’ve been talking about the importance of the Census and how to be counted.

    We’ve set a center goal to make sure all our families complete the Census. We have a family organizer who has been working with our families, and we have a Facebook group on our center’s site for parents; we’ve put a lot of information up about Census and voter registration.

  6. What has helped you in terms of self-care during social distancing? I’m still trying to figure that out! I’m not very good with this change. It’s one thing if I was single and working from home; there would be little transition and change in my schedule. But my husband is also working from home, and we can’t work simultaneously because we have to watch our 2-year-old. We’re asking each other, “Do you have a meeting this time? How about this time?” and we’re trying to get all our professional responsibilities completed.

    But I’ve enjoyed spending time with my daughter, and we’ve been going on a lot more walks. I’ve really enjoyed being with her and walking outside and seeing nature through her eyes.

 

On behalf of everyone at Illinois Action for Children, thank you for your continued support of children, families, and communities. Stay safe.