Pritzker: Many essential workers qualify for child care assistance through new state program

As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here

The state of Illinois will cover “most, if not all,” costs of child care for essential workers in health care, human services, government services and infrastructure, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Sunday.

These essential workers can apply through the state’s Child Care Assistance Program at

“Our essential work force deserves to know that their kids are safe and cared for in a small and affordable group setting,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker entered Sunday’s daily news conference wearing a mask over his nose and mouth, as the CDC recommended Saturday. The governor spoke of new child care initiatives as the Illinois Department of Public Health announced an additional 899 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 31 more deaths.

Currently more than 550 child care centers in the state are operating under emergency child care permits, and centers interested in reopening as emergency centers can still apply for a permit through the Department of Human Services.

Pritzker highlighted Brown Bear Daycare and Learning Center in Harvard, mentioning director Sheila Henson by name.

“Sheila has Brown Bear operating from 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., caring for the children of Harvard’s community members who work in local grocery stores, on farms and in the local milk processing plant,” Pritzker said. “Sheila is not only providing an important benefit for those workers, she’s also making it possible for everyone else to get milk that they process at that facility and the food that they produce. Nearly everyone in Harvard ought to be grateful to Sheila Henson.”

Pritzker reminded parents that children who can stay at home should stay home.

“And that means really at home,” Pritzker said. “Not going on playdates or hanging out with friends. As hard as this may be, we need our youngest Illinoisans to follow this guideline just like everyone else.”

Pritzker again criticized the federal government’s response to the pandemic during a Sunday morning appearance on CNN. Pritzker doesn’t believe the federal government is providing enough medical supplies to the states.

Asked about it Sunday afternoon, the governor said he has “given up on the federal government.”

“When there’s a major hurricane, think about Hurricane Katrina, it had to be the federal government that would step in,” Pritzker said. “It was too big. You don’t think this coronavirus, COVID-19, is too big for states? It is. That’s why you have a federal government.”

Of the new deaths reported Sunday, four occurred in DuPage County, three in Kane, one in Lake and one in Will.

A second inmate from Stateville Correctional Center has died, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. The inmate died at a local hospital. Ezike said 60 people associated with Stateville have now tested positive for the virus.

Illinois has seen 11,256 positive cases and 274 deaths, as of Sunday.

The state has tested 58,983 people. Chicago has 4,614 confirmed cases of COVID-19, while the rest of Cook County has 3,420.

Lake County has 742 confirmed cases, Will 668, DuPage 656, Kane 220, McHenry 133, Kendall 49, DeKalb 22, Whiteside 18, La Salle 10, Grundy nine, Ogle five, Carroll four, Bureau three and Lee two.

Boone, Calhoun and Gallatin county each reported its first case. The virus has showed up in 71 of Illinois’ 102 counties.

Of the more than 11,000 confirmed cases in the state, 29.4% are black, whereas only about 14% of the state population is black. Pritzker said reopening the formerly shuttered MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island and Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park should provide more support in those hard-hit, diverse communities.

“We know all too well that there are general disparities in health outcomes that play along these racial lines, and the same may be true for this virus,” Ezike said. “We have worked to make sure that all of our communities have access to the health care they need.”