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YMCA, Other Child Care Providers Re-Open For Health Staff, ‘Essential Workers’

The Stephens Family YMCA in southwest Champaign begins offering child care to children grades K through 8 on Monday, March 30, 2020.

UPDATE on April 8, 2020: Child care at the Stephens Family YMCA will be expanded to all essential workers identified by the state. To register and for a complete list of occupations that qualify, contact Cody Flowers at cody@ccymca.net. Include your occupation and place of employment in your initial email to Cody.

CHAMPAIGN – The Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign is offering child care to children of health workers beginning Monday.

CEO Jeff Scott says the Y in southwest Champaign is one of many across the state and the nation converting their facilities in this way. 

Scott says after the building closed to the general public due to COVID-19, leaving staff without work to do, they figured: Why not open it up to provide a day camp experience for school-aged kids whose parents work at hospitals?

“We just thought, gosh, we have some space at the Y that makes sense for kids to be in all day,” he says.

Scott says they’re taking extra precautions to make it as safe as possible.

“The biggest thing is making sure we have the right cleaning and emergency procedures in place,” he says. “Kids are going to have their temperature checked when they get there, and (we’re) making sure we have a room where kids can go if they end up showing any kind of illness.”

Additionally, the Y will limit class sizes to a maximum of 8 children to make it feasible to practice social distancing.

Scott says taking these precautions raises the cost of providing the care, but thanks to generous donations, the Y is able to offer the care for $40 a day and provide reduced rates to families that qualify based on income.

Care at the Stephens Family YMCA will be provided Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Families can register by emailing Cody Flowers at cody@ccymca.net.

While day care facilities across Illinois are closed to the public, some have re-opened for those considered by the state to be essential workers, both in health care and other fields. 

More information for essential workers seeking child care can be found on the state’s website, which includes a search function to find local providers. The state has also created a dedicated toll-free number to provide assistance: 888-228-1146.

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced last week that child care providers licensed to operate during the pandemic will receive stipends to address their added costs. 

A statement from Pritzker’s office says applications for stipends will be made available on Monday through local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies.

Licensed homes will receive $750; centers with one to two classrooms open will receive $2,000, and centers with three or more classrooms open will receive $3,000. 

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

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Christine Herman

Christine Herman is a Ph.D. chemist turned audio journalist who covers health for the Illinois Newsroom. Her reporting for Illinois Public Media/WILL has received awards from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association, the Public Media Journalists Association and has reached both regional and national audiences through WILL's health reporting partnership with Side Effects Public Media, NPR and Kaiser Health News. Christine started at WILL in 2015.

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