Join the Vaccine Month of Action
With the FDA approval of Pfizer’s vaccine for 5-11 year olds, the Chicagoland Vaccine Partnership is activating our network of partners for a month of action to keep families safe. We’re asking all of our partners to help educate parents about the new vaccines and ensure equitable vaccine access.
You can join the month of action by:
- Requesting a medical professional from our speakers bureau to answer questions at a community event
- Offering time off for your employees to get their families vaccinated
- Reaching out to a friend or family member to talk about vaccination
- Providing educational information in your newsletter or on social media
- Organizing a vaccination event
Sign the Vaccine Month of Action Pledge, get shareable educational resources, request a speaker, and locate vaccination sites on the Month of Action webpage.
Read The American Academy of Pediatrics COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit for Illinois School Nurses here.
Do You Have Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines for Children?
Join the American Academy of Pediatrics for a conversation about COVID-19 vaccines with local pediatricians.
Click here for more information.
Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants Database
The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) in collaboration with the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) has launched the Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health (I/ECMH) Consultants Database.
The Database is a centralized location for early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs. This invaluable resource makes connecting with highly qualified I/ECMH Consultants convenient and will streamline the process of locating and partnering with an I/ECMH Consultant in your community.
Learn more at the Database website and from the GOECD.
NALEO Educational Fund Launches the Juntos Podemos Campaign
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund announced the Juntos Podemos (Together We Can) campaign to empower Latinos to stop the spread of COVID-19, increase vaccine uptake, and combat misinformation.
Learn more about this effort:
Help spot and report misinformation via the Junkipedia reporting tool.
Seeking Participants For Interview Study
The University of Illinois is recruiting parents/caregivers who have preschoolers with disabilities to participate in an interview study. This study focuses on understanding parent perceptions about preschool motor curriculum for children with disabilities. Please consider participating if: you are a parent/caregiver who has a child (age 3 to 5) with a disability and you can be interviewed online or over the phone. For sharing their time and experiences, participants will receive one electronic $40 Amazon gift card. If you are interested in participating in this study or if you would like more information, please contact: Dayle Sargeant (802) 881-3130, Dr. Catherine Cheung (412) 327-6783, or Dr. Micki Ostrosky (217) 333-0260.
Start Early COVID-19 Vaccine Resources
Start Early has compiled answers to frequently asked questions in English and Spanish to assist the early childhood workforce in making informed decisions about accessing the vaccine. To access these documents, which will be updated as more information becomes available, click here.
Newly Updated, FREE Application for Teachers, Parents, and Caregivers: CDC’s Milestone Tracker
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers know the importance of tracking children’s developmental milestones; now there’s a new version of the FREE app from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help make tracking development easy, fun, and a great way to engage parents and caregivers. CDC’s Milestone Tracker app helps providers, teachers, parents, and caregivers better understand each child’s skills and abilities, track and celebrate developmental milestones, and share developmental progress from ages two months through five years.
The app offers:
- Parent-friendly, interactive developmental milestone checklists adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics;
- The ability to complete a checklist using corrected age for children born prematurely;
- Photos and videos to help parents recognize milestones;
- Tips and activities for supporting early development and sharing concerns;
- The option to complete a checklist in English or Spanish;
- Appointment and developmental screening reminders; and
- The ability to see a summary of a child’s developmental progress in English or Spanish.
Help parents and caregivers understand, support, and celebrate their child’s developmental milestones and know when to act early if they have concerns. For more information visit www.cdc.gov/MilestoneTracker.
CDC: COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Resources for Teachers, School Staff, and Child Care Providers
In March, the CDC compiled vaccine communication resources for teachers, school staff, and child care providers for School and Childcare Staff COVID-19 Vaccination Month. Click here for CDC resources all can use to help communicate about nationwide efforts to vaccinate teachers, school staff, and childcare providers against COVID-19.
New Child Care Aware of America Resources
Child Care Aware’s new video series teaches the basics of creating written emergency preparedness plans for child care providers in three quick videos. Each video is less than 3-minutes, but together they build a foundation that any child care director can use to feel confident in preparing for all sorts of emergencies. They are launching this training series in English and Spanish.
You can also explore Child Care Aware’s health resources for child care providers and the children in their care. Topic areas include physical activity, nutrition, emotional wellness and the importance of rest and sleep.
You can also visit their website for information on vaccination plans by state for child care providers.
Anti-Asian American Racism Impacts Children’s Return to In-Person Learning
Anti-Asian American racism continues to surge and impact children and families across the U.S. According to Stop AAPI Hate, the nation’s leading coalition documenting and addressing anti-Asian hate and discrimination through the pandemic, over 2,800 hate incidents have been reported thus far. NPR reports that hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased by 150 percent across 16 cities in 2020 alone.
As schools across the U.S. are reopening or preparing to, the continual increase in anti-Asian American racism have made parents and students fear not just bullying within the classrooms but harassment from adults on the way to school.
The Society for Research in Child Development provides policy and practice implications for providers, community leaders, and policymakers on addressing this. The Illinois GOECD also issued guidance in May 2020 for families, providers, and policymakers on addressing anti-Asian American racism during the pandemic.
You can read Illinois Action for Children's recent statement condemning recent violent attacks against the Asian-American community on our website.
Illinois Early Childhood Racial Equity Efforts & Resources
The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development is thrilled to announce the launch of the Illinois Early Childhood Racial Equity Efforts & Resources webpage on the GOECD website. Developed in partnership with the Illinois BUILD Team, the webpage features information on the State's commitment to racial equity; the racial equity work of the Illinois Early Learning Council (ELC); the racial equity work of the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding (the "Early Childhood Funding Commission"); and numerous early childhood racial equity tools and resources organized by content type (e.g. podcasts, Illinois data, books, etc.).
New "Understanding Inclusion" Series
Early CHOICES and the Early Intervention Training Program at the University of Illinois announced a new Understanding Inclusion series of bite-size videos with embedded resources and activities. This series was developed with families and for families to help understand, promote, and advocate for inclusion for children birth to age five.
This new resource is useful to families, practitioners, service coordinators, educators, and administrators in Early Intervention or early childhood. Each topic has a guide to support understanding; topic guides can be used as a companion tool for the learner and as a stand-alone tool to help facilitate discussions and extend learning opportunities.
Click here to access this new series on the Early CHOICES website.
Click here for an infographic overview of the six modules in the series.
Illinois Maternal Health Strategic Plan focuses on Health Equity
The I PROMOTE-IL Project at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Title V Program and the Illinois Maternal Health Task Force, is excited to share the first Illinois Maternal Health Strategic Plan.
The plan’s vision is as follows: Health equity for women, pregnant persons, and families in Illinois, across race, ethnicity, class, geography, immigration status, and ability, where all have what they need to be healthy and reach their full potential. As a call to action to address the stark inequities in maternal health outcomes in Illinois, the plan is intended to guide, support, and/or strengthen the efforts of multiple organizations, groups, and individuals to reverse these inequities.
The plan includes a statewide strategic agenda with the following five priority areas:
- Care Coordination and Case Management
- Public Education and Community Empowerment and Engagement
- Equal Access to High Quality Care
- Root/Structural Causes of Health Inequity
- Maternal Health Data for Action
Each priority area has strategies and preliminary action steps to pursue over the next four years. The Illinois Maternal Health Strategic Plan is a living document and will be updated annually throughout the remainder of the federal project period, 2021-2024.
The Illinois Maternal Health Task Force looks forward to collaborating with organizations and stakeholders across the state to improve maternal health in Illinois for all pregnant and postpartum persons and their families. Any questions can be sent to IPROMOTE-IL@uic.edu.
Important COVID-19 Vaccination Information for Early Childhood Providers
On January 25, 2021, Illinois transitioned into Phase 1B to administer COVID-19 vaccines to those eligible in Priority Group 1B. Illinois has included the following providers under the "educator" category eligible for vaccines in Priority Group 1B as outlined in the Illinois Department of Public Health COVID-19 Vaccination Plan:
- Early Intervention personnel
- Home- and center-based child care providers
- Home Visiting & Maternal, Infant & Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) providers
- Head Start/Early Head Start providers
- Preschool for All providers
- Support staff, including custodial, transportation, kitchen, and other staff
Please note that Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) staff and family members of the provider are not included in this priority group.
Early childhood providers are undoubtedly critical to not only the infrastructure of our State, but also in the care and education of our youngest citizens. Many of you are eager to receive your vaccines as soon as they become available, and we encourage all eligible early childhood education and care providers to do so.
However, it is important to note there are approximately 3.2 million Illinoisans who currently qualify for the vaccine in Priority Group 1B. Though you are eligible now, due to the limited supply of the vaccines and the limited number of healthcare providers administering the vaccine in Illinois, it may take weeks for an appointment to become available to you. It is expected to take at least several months before all those who are eligible in Priority Group 1B to receive their first dose of the vaccine.
Currently, demand for the vaccine outweighs supply. Patience is needed while vaccine quantities increase. With time, and as more shots arrive, the number of appointments in your area will open. Your patience has been unmatched since the beginning of this pandemic, and the vaccination process will also require a “we” as we get through it.
To Find Available Vaccination Sites in Your Area (Statewide)
The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is federal to local; this would make your local health department, local medical facility, and/or local pharmacy your best resource regarding the availability of the vaccine in your area.
Please note the City of Chicago is receiving a supply of the vaccine that is separate from what is being distributed to the rest of the State.
All vaccinations are currently by appointment only. Coronavirus.Illinois.gov, the State’s COVID-19 response website, is regularly being updated to provide eligible residents with nearby vaccination sites using an interactive map, information on how to make an appointment to receive the vaccine, updates on the State’s plan and eligibility, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Click here to access a searchable map of vaccine locations across the State; this list includes local health departments, as well as Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Mariano’s, and Walgreens pharmacy locations that are administering vaccines. New sites and pharmacies are being added daily to this website page. Please check back regularly for available appointments in your area.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free, regardless of your insurance status. If you are insured, your insurance will be charged.
Vaccination Appointments and Sites in Cook County
All early childhood providers who live and/or work in suburban Cook County can sign up with the Cook County Department of Public Health (serving all suburbs in Cook County except Oak Park, Skokie, Stickney, and Evanston) to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine at several different locations. If no appointments are available at the time you sign up, you will be contacted as soon as new appointments become available.
Visit https://vaccine.cookcountyil.gov/ to sign up at any time, or call the hotline 1-833-308-1988, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
To Find Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A townhall FAQ was released online in both English and Spanish. This FAQ answers questions the state received from early childhood providers on vaccines, federal funding, program capacity and policy clarification.
FAQ English – https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/OECD/Documents/IN24621.pdf
FAQ Spanish - https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/OECD/Documents/IN2462_SP.pdf
Townhall Webinar Recording in English | Spanish
Small Business Owners and Federal Relief Resources
Early childhood programs are also small businesses and should be maximizing the federal relief funds passed by Congress in December 2020. Click here for a list of resources to better understand what is available to help your business weather the financial storm created by the pandemic.
Coronavirus Resources for Child Care Providers
During this time as the nation continues to face challenges related to COVID-19, the Committee for Economic Development (CED) has compiled a clearinghouse of resources in an effort to help child care providers (child care homes and centers) access federal sources for support. Resources will be added to the Coronavirus Resources for Child Care Providers webpage as they become available.
The following documents may be of particular interest given the recently passed FY2021 Consolidated Appropriations & COVID Relief Act (P.L. 116-260):
New Resource Guide for Developing Integrated Strategies to Support the Social and Emotional Wellness of Children
The COVID-19 pandemic has swiftly and substantially affected the social and emotional health of children, especially those experiencing multiple hardships. As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the United States, many children are experiencing widespread disruptions in their daily life. Young children are reacting to stress as their parents' and caregivers' routines change. Children may have strong feelings of fear, worry, sadness, and anger about the pandemic and related issues that affect behavior at home and in child care.
In December 2020, to address these issues, the Office of Child Care (OCC) announced its new initiative to further integrate social and emotional support strategies in child care’s mixed-delivery system. Through this work, OCC will support expanding access to research-based social and emotional and trauma-responsive practices in child care across the country. The first activity of this initiative is the publication of a Resource Guide for Developing Integrated Strategies To Support the Social and Emotional Wellness of Children.
Strategies to Virtually Support and Engage Families of Young Children during COVID-19 (and Beyond)
Child Trends released a new brief, "Strategies to Virtually Support and Engage Families of Young Children during COVID-19 (and Beyond)" that outlines four research- and practice-informed strategies that early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers and teachers can use to engage families virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Click here to access the brief.
Vaccine Messaging Toolkit for Home-Based Child Care Providers
Home Grown developed a messaging toolkit to provide cohesive messaging for provider advocates and their networks to reach out to state policymakers about home-based child care provider access to COVID-19 vaccine. These messages should be adapted to specific state guidance whenever possible.
Crosswalk of the New DEC EI/ECSE Standards and the Professional Standards and Competencies
For faculty teaching in early childhood special education programs, a new resource is available to support implementation of DEC’s Initial Practice-Based Professional Preparation Standards for Early Interventionists/Early Childhood Special Educators and the Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators. Through the Early Childhood Personnel Center (ECPC), a workgroup of faculty from early childhood special education programs, including representatives of NAEYC, developed a crosswalk of the two sets of standards. Faculty are encouraged to use this new resource as they consider updates to their program’s curriculum.
Click here to access the Crosswalk.
MIECHV Immunization Resources for Home Visiting Programs
The Illinois Maternal, Infant, & Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) team has assembled important information for home visiting programs as a “one-stop-shop” for information programs may need as they navigate these challenging times with families.
Click here to review the information and resources for Illinois. Feel free to share information with families during virtual visits, social media, and other communications. Specifically, you may be interested in the information included towards the bottom on communicating with parents who are “vaccine hesitant” from the Immunization Action Coalition.
Video: 10 Ways to Support Children’s Emotional Well-Being During COVID-19
In this short YouTube video, Child Trend's mental health expert, Jessica Dym Bartlett, discusses 10 ways for parents and caregivers to support children’s emotional well-being during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This video is based on the Child Trends resource released this past spring: Resources for Supporting Children's Emotional Well-Being during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Taking Care of Ourselves: Stress & Relaxation
The Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center's Taking Care of Ourselves: Stress & Relaxation webpage features resources, workshops, posters bookmarks, and exercises on stress management and self-care to support family well-being. The best way to support and care for others is to first care for ourselves, so check out these resources!
New NAEYC Survey: Sacrificing to Stay Open, Child Care Providers Face a Bleak Future Without Relief
The essential child care sector has sacrificed and struggled to serve children and families since the start of the COVID pandemic. NAEYC’s newest survey, completed between November 13–29, 2020, by more than 6,000 respondents working in child care centers and family child care homes shows that the crisis facing child care is as consistent and devastating today as it was in March and in July. With 56% of child care centers saying they are losing money every day that they remain open, programs are confronting an unsustainable reality, even as they are taking desperate measures - putting supplies on credit cards, drawing down personal savings, and laying off staff - to remain viable for the children and families they serve. Yet despite the steps they are taking to save themselves, the math on their bottom line does not work, and federal relief is needed to stabilize and support this essential sector.
Click here to read the Brief.
Click here for the state data from the November NAEYC Survey.
Learn the Signs. Act Early.
Learn the Signs. Act Early. (LTSAE) is an evidence-informed program developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that aims to improve early identification of developmental delays and disabilities, including autism, by increasing parent-engaged developmental monitoring so children and their families can get the early services and supports they need.
The LTSAE website is equipped with tools and resources to help identify and address developmental concerns earlier. Your program can take part in parent education and engagement on development by utilizing the following materials:
For questions about these Learn the Signs. Act Early. resources and how to promote them in your program, please email Illinois’ Act Early Ambassadors Cari Roestel caroline.roestel@AdvocateHealth.com and/or Lori Orr Lori.A.Orr@illinois.gov.
Early Childhood-Focused Homelessness Resources
Under the initial PDG B-5 grant, GOECD collaborated with the Illinois Early Learning Project at U of I to create a collection of homelessness resources for providers and families. The webpage contains various tip sheets, toolkits, and podcasts detailing topics such as the rights of families experiencing homelessness, food and nutrition, and family well-being. The focus of the toolkits are statewide, publicly available resources to assist both families with young children experiencing homelessness, as well as their early childhood providers. Several relevant podcasts are also available, detailing the impact of trauma on young children and the role of family voice in early childhood programs.
Videos to Help Parents Promote Learning At Home
The Latino Policy Forum has created a short video to help parents promote early learning in their homes. The video is available in both English and Spanish.
Additionally, the Latino Policy Forum is offering virtual workshops at no cost to those serving English Learners and their families. A description of the workshops can be found here. Those interested in attending a workshop can contact Rosario Hernandez.
Social-Emotional Toolkits for Early Childhood Providers & Leaders
GOECD, in partnership with the Illinois Pyramid Model State Leadership Team, developed Social-Emotional Toolkits early childhood providers and leaders can use to manage stressors and promote wellness during these challenging times. We shared these resources earlier in the pandemic but wanted to send them out again to support those caring for our earliest learners.
Additionally, as part of the COVID-19 Safety Reminder Campaign for child care providers, staff, and parents, click below for a one page interactive infographic highlighting the importance of self-care.
Managing COVID-19 Stress
Hacer frente al estrés provocado por la COVID-19
This continues to be a stressful time for children, families, and early care and education providers. Concerns about the spread of COVID-19 are ever-present. Children may be struggling with significant adjustments to their routines, which can interfere with their sense of security and ability to learn. Pressure on parents, caregivers, and providers can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of helplessness and frustration.
The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), in partnership with the Illinois Pyramid Model Statewide Leadership Team, has developed social-emotional toolkits to help manage stressors and promote wellness during these challenging times.
Resources & Strategies to Support Children with Disabilities & Their Families During COVID-19
COVID-19 has deeply impacted early childhood programs, children and families, and their communities. This resource list, jointly created by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA), the Office of Head Start (OHS), and the OHS TA National Centers may be helpful when seeking guidance and resources to help leaders, services providers, teachers, support staff, children, and families during reopening and continuity of services.
U.S. Department of Education Releases Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide
The U.S. Department of Education released a new Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide, a resource to help parents and guardians understand how digital tools can provide tailored learning opportunities, engage students with course materials, encourage creative expression, and enrich the educational experience. As an increasing number of school systems implement digital learning both inside and outside of the traditional classroom, this guide demystifies digital learning for parents and empowers them to be effective advocates for high-quality digital learning.
Parents & Providers: Please Share Your Story
In partnership with the Funding Coalition, Illinois Action for Children is in the process of creating a storytelling campaign to highlight the critical importance of early childhood educators and providers in the lives of Illinois families, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This campaign will be made available to sector organizations to use however is most impactful.
The goal is to share stories that highlight the critical work of early childhood educators and providers, and the deep relationships between them and the families they serve. Your experiences and perspectives are critical for how we revitalize the early childhood education and care system in Illinois.
- Parents/caregivers, please share your story here.
- Providers, please share your story here.
For All Illinoisans
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recent urgent warning to consumers and health care providers about hand sanitizer products that are labeled as containing ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. All are being advised to check the FDA webpage (which now lists 75 products to avoid) on a regular basis to stay fully informed regarding this important health issue.
For All Early Care & Education Providers
The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations released The Leadership Team's Guide for Re-Opening Programs, which includes considerations for supporting programs and school staff, children, and families; considerations for classroom environments; and considerations for promoting social-emotional skills, preventing challenging behavior, and responding to children when challenging behavior occurs.
Beat the Heat in Chicago!
Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, along with officials from the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), Chicago Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS), Chicago Park District, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and other City departments and sister agencies have made significant advancements to ensure that more than 200 citywide cooling resources are available in the City's response plan to extreme-heat weather conditions.
For Home Child Care Providers Who Want to Offer Emergency Care to Essential Workers
Emergency Child Care will follow newly developed guidelines informed by CDC guidelines and best practices for caring for children. All persons providing care for children in an emergency setting are required to have a current background check.
Effective March 21, 2020 and for as long as the public health emergency continues, licensed and licensed-exempt child care homes may serve up to six(6) children of essential workers as a legally license-exempt home. These services should be provided only when essential workers have no other options available. The goal is for everyone, including children, to practice social distancing and stay at home whenever possible.
No application or registration is required to continue operation, but homes choosing to remain open to serve essential workers must:
Click here to let the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) system know that you are offering emergency child care for children of essential workers. This way, they can connect families needing care to available care.
- Licensed Homes MUST SIGN the attendance exemption form AND attach the signed form to your certificate in order to paid for all eligible days during COV-ID 19 pandemic.
COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Temporary Attendance Exemption Policy and Form– The Illinois Department of Human Services has issued a Temporary Attendance Exemption Policy to encourage subsidized child care programs to provide services during unforeseen, extraordinary circumstances and to lessen the financial impact of those events which are beyond the control of the programs to include; licensed child care centers, licensed child care home, license-exempt centers, and license-exempt homes may apply for an attendance exemption when an extraordinary event is responsible for substantially less than normal attendance. By claiming an exemption, the provider attests staff will continue to be paid for all scheduled work hours regardless of closure or reduction in services. En Español.
Illinois Action for Children understands the numerous hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working with the city, state, and a host of local agencies to provide you with information, resources, and guidance for child care and other resources as we navigate this public health crisis. Please be sure to check out the funding and grants information.
If you are serving primarily low-income families, currently have a contract with the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services, and would like to apply for a grant to support your operations contact them.
In-person Provider Training
All in-person trainings scheduled through April 30, 2020, are cancelled. Registration for the Spring 2020 session has been postponed until further notice. Please visit the INCCRRA website to participate in trainings online. (A computer and internet service are required for the Gateways i-learning System.)
If you have questions regarding provider trainings please contact us.
Consultation, Technical Assistance, Home-Visiting, Etc.
All face-to-face outreach services, trainings, technical assistance, field visits/monitoring, and home visiting activities are discontinued until further notice.
- Alternative methods will be used to keep in contact and support parent and providers needing our services (i.e. online/web training, consultation service by phone, information by email).
If you have any questions regarding consultation, training, or technical assistance, please call 773.564.8804 and leave a detailed message. An IAFC staff member will reach out to you as soon as possible.
If you have any questions regarding home visiting services, please call 708.365.1500 and leave a detailed message. An IAFC staff member will reach out to you as soon as possible.
Resources for Food Assistance
Illinois Action for Children’s Healthy Food Program – Participants in the program receive monthly reimbursement payments for serving children in their care healthy meals and snacks.