5/8/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: National Provider Appreciation Day & Press Conference Recap

Friday, May 8, 2020

Good evening:

Our ability to successfully support families across Illinois comes from building dynamic partnerships with community organizations that serve local communities.

Today, we are able to honor and celebrate them on National Provider Appreciation Day. Celebrated annually, this special day recognizes child care providers, teachers, and other educators of young children everywhere. As many essential employees have continued to work through the pandemic, including employees across our agency, these providers have continued to be trusted and reliable advisors. We are excited to spotlight two of them in today's Community Bright Spots.

Caring Place Child Care Center (Rhonda Costa, Director), Urbana, IL

Located at the Carle Hospital in Urbana, the Caring Place fosters the development of children in a safe, nurturing, non-pressured atmosphere that provides several types of care: full day care, drop-in care, after school, and school age summer camp. Like many providers, the Caring Place has been impacted in providing these services, but is moving forward fiercely under Director Rhonda Costa's guidance. Rhonda's 40 years of experience in the early child care field, including 15 as director of the Caring Place have served the organization well during the pandemic.

Caring Place is open as an Emergency Child Care Center, providing care for hospital employees, as well as keeping spots available for community members.

In addition to being the director, Rhonda is the President of the local Chapter of the Association for Education of Young Children (AEYC) and offers training for other child care providers through the local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency.

In honor of today, Rhonda recognized and treated her staff throughout the week. There have been many celebrations, including a parent organized Fiesta Café, which provided a treat for staff and financial support for a local small business. Additionally, Rhonda provided staff with breakfast this morning to kick off Provider Appreciation Day.

Thank you, Rhonda for caring for some of Illinois' young citizens. We are fortunate to have providers like you supporting our residents.

West Central Child Care Connection, Quincy, IL

West Central Child Care Connection is a resource and referral agency dedicated to supporting children, families, and the childcare community by promoting options in accessibility, affordability, and quality care.

Today is a great time to remember that quality childcare is a priceless commodity. Childcare providers deserve a big "thank you" every day for their dedication, commitment, and compassion. This year in particular West Central Child Care Connection wants to recognize the work of over 150 Family Child Care programs and 10 Child Care Centers in West Central Illinois who opened their programs as Emergency Centers, caring for the children of Essential Workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

West Central Child Care Connection would like to thank all those in the field of early care and education throughout Illinois for their dedication to the families and children in their communities today and every day!

Please see the updates from the Governor's press conference yesterday.

COVID-19 Updates from the Governor's 05-07-2020 Press Conference

  • Unemployment Claims: Governor JB Pritzker announced that the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has now processed 1,006,925 initial unemployment claims from March 1st through May 2nd. This is nearly 12 times the number of claims the Department processed over the same period last year.
  • IDES Capacity Expansion: The Governor was happy to relay that a new IDES call center is up and running with 100 employees currently working and another 100 expected in the near future. He also announced that webpage load times now average less than a second, and that the new IDES "chat bot" that Google AI helped build has already answered more than 3.2 million inquiries during its first two weeks alone. These improvements resulted in IDES paying employment benefits in a timely manner to 99.9% of clean claims.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program provides 100% federally-funded unemployment benefits for individuals who are unemployed for specified COVID-19-related reasons and are not eligible for the State's regular unemployment insurance program, the extended benefit (EB) program under Illinois law, or the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC), including independent contractors and sole proprietors (also known as 1099s). Up to 39 weeks' worth of benefits are potentially available under the program for COVID-19-related unemployment claims.
  • PUA Application: Workers who believe they may be eligible for new federal benefits under the PUA program must first apply for regular unemployment insurance before applying for benefits under PUA when the new application portal opens on Monday via the IDES website. Claimants who receive an eligibility determination of $0 can then appeal that decision by providing verification of wages earned or they can submit a claim for PUA benefits.
  • Testing Numbers: IDPH Director Dr. Ezike reported that 17,783 tests were run over the preceding 24 hours with a positive rate of 15%.
  • Hospitalization Numbers: As of May 6th, there were 4,862 people hospitalized in Illinois for COVID-19. Of those, 1,253 were in the ICU, with 766 of them on ventilators.
  • Daily Statewide COVID-19 cases: 2,641 new cases reported in Illinois and 138 additional deaths.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS