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Childcare centers now eligible for $270 million grant

ROCKFORD (WREX) —  In June, Governor JB Pritzker announced a $270 million grant program for childcare providers.

“Strengthening child care is as much about building a strong economy as it is investing in our young people – both critical aspects of building an Illinois that truly serves our working families,” Pritzker said.

On July 31, childcare centers were eligible to apply.

"All of us were waiting all week long, refreshing the page, waiting for the apply button," said Crystal Huenefeld.

DaVinci Academy was forced to close it's doors in March. Before the pandemic, DaVinci had 146 families. It was required to cut 30% of its capacity because of state rules. Now, it averages only 60 children a day, which has resulted in a 70% income loss.

"We are probably going to have to raise prices when the time comes and all of that so we can stay a float because it doesn't sound like our ratios or class sizes will be increasing any time soon," said Crystal Huenefeld.

But that's where the grant comes in, which is also helping Harlem Community Center.

"We were so thrilled. It is apparent that Governor Pritzker recognizes the importance of childcare and what that does mean for our working parents and our economy," said Shannon Scheffel.

Harlem Community Center was able to remain open for families of essential workers. But even with being open, it was still affected, losing more than half of a million dollars.

"I think that we could have inched by. I would have been really scared during the winter time," said Scheffel.

But with the help from the state, these centers are able to keep their doors open and continue to serve families in our area.

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Erin Chapman

Erin Chapman is a reporter at WREX. She joined the team in May 2020. Chapman grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in Communication in 2020.

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