Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers

To find emergency child care in your area, call (888) 228-1146 or visit COVID-19 Emergency Provider Search

For links to information shared during the Governor's COVID-19 daily briefing on April 5, 2020:

This page contains information and resources on emergency child care for: essential workers; child care providers; and volunteers who want to offer support. For general COVID-19 early childhood information, access to updates from state agencies, or resources for families with young children click here

The purpose of this webpage is to help you understand your options for offering and accessing child care for essential workers during this pandemic. If you are a local elected official, community leader, school district administrator, essential worker, or someone interested and able to volunteer to provide care, there is something here to help you. If you are a health provider, we want to know about your workforce's child care needs, what you are already doing to respond to the needs they have, and what you need from state government to support your current and ever-changing needs.

The Governor, his staff, his Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), and the leadership at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) know that child care is always a critical work support for families. That is even more true now as our state engages in a "stay at home" strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19. Per Governor Pritzker's Stay at Home Executive Order on Friday March 20, 2020, all child care programs were closed. Where possible, children should be kept at home. However, we know that is not an option for some of our essential workers, and it is the priority of Governor Pritzker to provide you with what you need, where and when you need it. 

GOECD, IDHS, DCFS, and other partners throughout the state have established a child care structure and system to provide care for essential workers. For as long as the public health emergency continues, licensed and licensed-exempt child care homes may serve up to six children of essential workers as a legally license-exempt home. Certain license-exempt child care centers may also continue to serve up to ten children of essential workers (not to exceed five classrooms) without needing to apply for an Emergency Child Care License. Additionally, centers that wish to reopen as Emergency Child Care Centers can apply for an Emergency Child Care License. We have the following resources available to you at this time, and this page will be regularly updated as more information becomes available. 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Essential Workers Seeking Child Care 

  • A dedicated help line has been created so Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) can help connect essential worker families to emergency child care. Call toll-free (888) 228-1146. The helpline will be available from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM Monday through Friday to answer calls, but callers will be able to leave a message 24 hours a day.    
  • To find emergency child care in your area, visit COVID-19 Emergency Provider Search. 
  • For residents in Cook County, Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) has launched a temporary text messaging service to answer Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) questions during IAFC's office closure. Text: 312-736-7390 Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM-5:00 PM. Priority will be given to first responders, health care workers, and essential workers to help them find and pay for child care.
  • GOECD - Child Care Closures: A Letter to Families
  • CDC - Emergency Responders: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Child Care Providers Who Want to Offer Emergency Care to Essential Workers

Emergency Child Care will follow newly developed guidelines developed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), which were informed by CDC guidelines and best practices for caring for children. All persons providing care for children in an emergency setting are required to have a current background check.

Effective March 21, 2020 and for as long as the public health emergency continues, licensed and licensed-exempt child care homes may serve up to six children of essential workers as a legally license-exempt home. Click here for additional guidance. No application or registration is required to continue operation, but homes choosing to remain open to serve the children of essential workers must: 

Effective Monday, March 23, 2020, Governor Pritzker amended the Executive Order to allow certain license-exempt child care centers to provide care for the children of essential workers without needing to apply for an Emergency Child Care License during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. It is recommended that centers serve no more than 50 children per center with a maximum group size of 10 per classroom. Click here for additional guidance that includes examples of the types of programs that qualify for this option. No application or registration is required to continue operation, but license-exempt centers choosing to remain open to serve the children of essential workers must: 

Effective March 21, 2020 child care centers can apply to become an Emergency Child Care Center to continue to serve the children of essential workers during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. It is recommended that centers serve no more than 50 children per center with a maximum group size of 10 per classroom. Click here for additional guidance. Centers that would like to apply to become an Emergency Child Care Center must: 
Resources for Child Care Providers
Guidance & FAQs
Business Resources
Resources to Support Children/Child Development
General Resources

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Qualified Individuals Who Want to Volunteer to Support Emergency Child Care

Qualified volunteers who are willing to temporarily work in an Emergency Child Care Home or Center should complete an Emergency Child Care Staffing Survey. You will be contacted if there is a need in your area. 

We know that communities have incredible volunteers ready to help their first responders, health care professionals, and others who must continue to work through this crisis. We encourage communities to activate and mobilize your volunteer networks. However, all volunteers who take care of children should also have a current background check. Below is a list of potential individuals and organizations who already work with children in your community and may already be background checked: 

  • Child care and support staff whose program has closed
  • School teachers and auxiliary staff whose school has closed 
  • Already active classroom assistants
  • Already active parent volunteers
  • Faith-based programs 
  • Independent tutoring programs 
  • Volunteer sports programs
  • Children's museum staff
  • Music and arts programs
  • Park district programs
  • After school programs
  • Local public health department staff
  • Community college early care and education students and faculty 
  • Members of the Red Cross
  • Community service organizations 
The American Red Cross is a great resource for online classes on safety and emergency preparedness. 

Your local community collaboration might be useful in helping to locate and coordinate resources to support essential workers through this crisis. Illinois Action for Children has put together Community Collaboration Profiles that include contact information and a listing of partners and participants at each community collaboration. 

Your local CCR&R should be able to help you locate the available child care options within your community at this time. Find your local CCR&R here

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The following additional resources are in development and will be posted soon:
  • A series of recorded webinars to aid in creating safe, healthy, and quality child care experiences for children ages 0-13 in temporary emergency child care settings throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis in Illinois

Please know this website will continue to be updated and modified as more information and resources become available. For now, we invite you to visit GOECD's COVID-19 page, Coronavirus.illinois.gov, and the Illinois Department of Public Health's (IDPH) COVID-19 page in hopes of answering your questions and giving you the information that is most helpful to you, your communities, your family, and all the essential workers across our great state who need child care as they continue to serve and protect the rest of us.