5/21/20 - A Message to Providers from Secretary Hou: Community Bright Spot

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Dear Partners,

Philanthropic organizations and charitable donors in Illinois have long been an incredible resource for vulnerable families throughout the state. When COVID-19 first began impacting our communities and State facilities, their support was vital to the families suffering the most.

In particular, the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, which has raised and distributed $30 million to date, has been life-saving during the pandemic. In collaboration with the Office of the Governor, the United Way of Illinois, and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, funding has been distributed to nonprofit organizations that serve individuals, families, and communities across Illinois who have been hit hardest. Through these funds, the goal has been to support residents in need of emergency food and basic supplies, interim housing and shelter, primary health care services, and nonprofit safety and operations assistance.

This assistance has brought some needed relief to Illinois' 16 Child Care Resources & Referral (CCRR) agencies and to many community providers. CCRR agencies are hubs of coordination for diverse child care services, supports and activities in their service delivery areas. During the pandemic, CCRRs have provided great resources to families, and I am excited to share more about their impact in today's Bright Spot.

Today's Bright Spot: Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (CCRR)

With a daily charge to administer the Child Care Assistance Program, CCRRs have been leading the way in providing guidance and support to community organizations that are serving families during this difficult time.

Through the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, providers were able to distribute debit cards to families in need. Given the constraints of stay-at-home requirements, these providers had to be especially innovative in how they engaged their clients. For example, staff from the Children's Home & Aid (CHA) in Chicago set up in a Panera parking lot.

This funding brought critical support for families, with providers focusing on those experiencing homelessness, clients exiting child welfare, and families with a special needs child. Recipients were very grateful, with one family sharing the following in a handwritten note to the Illinois Network of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies:

"Thank you to the agency and those who contributed in this donation. May God continue to bless you. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my two daughters, Emily & Angelica, thank you. Also thank you to Norma for all of your support. Many thanks."

Congratulations to CCRRs for helping many families to continue accessing food, safe housing, and other essential needs. Thank you for your leadership.


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS