Picture it: Illinois. 2020. The world is creepily quiet as everyone closes up shop and waits in their home for word that everything is safe, and life can start again. But two weeks turn into two months; two months turn into two years. Now it’s 2022, and the local bakery you worked for couldn’t bounce back, so the owners made the hard choice to close for good. There were grants and bonuses and relief funds in the beginning, but where are they now?

You used to depend on your parents to watch your kids while you masked up and ran errands, but now your mom isn’t in the best health since she had the virus. She gets tired, short of breath, and she definitely can’t keep up with your three-year-old. Your kids’ daycare is full after they lost teachers to the pressures of the pandemic, so now what? You have an interview this week, but who will watch your children?

You may not be aware that YWCA Northwestern Illinois has been working hard for families this entire time. When the world closed up, we went virtual. We put new plans in place to make sure our services could continue when families needed us the most. We kept in touch with child care providers to find out who is still providing services and who needed help with supplies. We helped families complete applications for assistance with urgent needs that simply could not wait.

Today, we know that the need for child care is still urgent. YWCA Northwestern Illinois is home to the area’s Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) for the northern counties of Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson and Jo Daviess. If you live outside these counties, another CCR&R is available through a different agency found here: www.inccrra.org/about/sdasearch. The CCR&R connects parents with good, quality child care providers in two ways. As a parent or guardian, you can:

  • Apply for help with paying for child care while you work or go to school. You may even qualify if you need care while looking for a job, going to interviews, or getting ready to enroll in school. You may choose a licensed daycare center or home. You could also ask a friend, family member, or neighbor who doesn’t have a license. Just ask them if they will accept payments from the program! There are some “extra” requirements for child care providers without a license, and our Health & Safety Coaches make sure that these providers take trainings and have a safe home for child care to take place.
  • Receive a list of child care providers with openings. We do not recommend one provider over another, but we will create a list of qualified providers that fit your needs for days of the week, location, work shift, and much more.

With all of the pressures on parents, we want to cross “find child care” off your to-do list. We want to cheer from the sidelines as you and your family thrive. We know that parents don’t want good child care; they need good child care. And we are here for it.

– Kelli