Health & Safety

Science Matters: Staying Informed about COVID-19, Vaccinations & More

Join us for this LIVE webinar and Q&A on January 28, 2021, from 2 - 4 p.m., where we will provide updates on COVID-19 safety practices, vaccinations, Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), resources/supports and answer some of your most urgent questions.

The webinar panel includes:

  • Jennifer Alexander, Director of Early Learning Policy at the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office
  • Jennifer Seo, Medical Director at Chicago Department of Public Health,
  • Yvonne Spurlock, Director of Provider Programs at Illinois Action for Children
  • Chris Tokarski, CCAP Program Director at Illinois Action for Children

Our goal is to inform Chicago area early learning providers of the most recent COVID-19 information, community spread prevention reminders, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

Register here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on joining the webinar.

To submit a question in advance the webinar, please email Nataly Barrera by Friday, January 22.

*Due to time constraints, all questions submitted may not be covered during the live broadcast. The webinar will be recorded.

Illinois Department of Public Health
COVID-19 Vaccine Resources  

All are encouraged to visit the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) COVID-19 Vaccine webpage for information on Illinois' vaccination plan, access to a COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions document (last updated 1/6/21 and available in Spanish, Polish, French, Chinese, and English), and to view the Vaccine Distribution Plan for Phases 1A and 1B

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!

Important Immunization Information

Immunizations, also known as vaccines, are one of our greatest defenses against many serious illnesses. However, as parents around the country and across Illinois canceled well-child checkups to avoid coronavirus exposure, public health and Medicaid health plans experts feared that inadvertently the seeds of another health crisis were being sown. 

According to the CDC, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been as much as a 50% decline in routine vaccinations for children aged 24 months or under. The alarming decline in routine childhood vaccinations could result in vaccine-preventable outbreaks. For example, if measles vaccination coverage of 90%–95% (the level needed to establish herd immunity) is not achieved, measles outbreaks can occur. 

Illinois State Law

Illinois State law requires certain immunizations for children and adults enrolled in child care, school, or college. To learn more, see the right-hand column of the Fall 2020 School Immunization Requirements.

 Certificate of Religious Exemption Form

 Certificate of Child Health Examination

 Certificate of Child Health Examination (En Español)

 Certificate of Child Health Exam Memo

Laws & Rules

Public Act 099-0249 - Religious Exemption Amendment to School Code

K-12 Immunization Requirements

College Immunization Requirements

Mercury-Free Vaccine Act

Mercury-Free Vaccine Act Exemption Declaration (2019)

Healthcare Employee Vaccination Code

Illinois Guidelines for Needle Disposal

VFC Program Manual for Illinois VFC Providers

IAMHP Immunization and Well-Child Webinar Series

The Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans (IAMHP) put together a complimentary 3-part webinar series tackling issues and barriers to immunization that IAMHP and its member health plans were seeing. Click here to view the recorded series. 

Highlights of the Lessons Learned:

  • Tracking efforts, data, and outreach to providers and members are vital.
  • Contact families to schedule missed vaccinations. Use member electronic health records and immunization information to identify children who have missed recommended vaccinations and work with families to schedule in-person appointments. 
  • Communicate your infection control practices with parents. Fear of crowded waiting rooms is a real concern for most, so make sure members know there are strict procedures and processes in place to ensure their safety. 
  • Dedicate specific clinics, buildings, or rooms for sick and wellness visits. Separate sick and well members into different locations or areas of the clinic. For providers with limited space, consider collaborating with community organizations to identify separate locations.
  • Create mobile vaccination sites to limit in-person contact. Similar to many COVID-19 testing sites, allow members to check-in by phone but receive the vaccine in their vehicle.

Safety Reminders from the IL Department of Public Health for the Holiday Season

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the GOECD are continuing their COVID-19 Holiday Safety Campaign for early care and education providers. Be on the lookout for regular communications from them that include downloadable materials for social media and/or print for you to share with staff and parents! You can also access all the downloadable materials and informational links that have been sent out as part of the campaign to date.

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

COVID-19 Safety Reminder Campaign for Providers, Staff & Parents

​The Illinois Governor's office of Early Childood Development (GOECD) and their State agency partners have launched a messaging campaign to give child care providers, staff, and parents timely and useful safety reminders, current and emerging public health data, and suggestions for how to prepare for the upcoming holidays as the pandemic persists.

With the holiday season coming up, we will collectively have to continue to take a proactive approach to reimagining our festivities in order to stay safe. Child care providers and staff have been doing an amazing job at keeping our children and families healthy. This campaign aims to remind us all to stay strong and keep going!

Check out the GOECD's website for more information on this campaign and how you can get involved.

Parent Checklist: Child Care Safety During COVID-19

Illinois' early childhood advocates, including Illinois Action for Children are here to help you determine what it will look like—and if it will be safe—when your child returns to child care.

With that in mind, we and our advocacy partners have created this checklist that includes some of the most important things to look for when you are considering for child care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We encourage you to review your child care provider’s re-opening plan to make sure you understand and are comfortable with the health and safety precautions that are in place.

Holiday Season Safety Protocols

As we head into the holiday season, health experts across the country say what happens during our upcoming celebrations could be essential for containing COVID-19. Mawlid, Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Eve/Day are times when we typically gather with our families and friends. However, this year is different. 

Each of us has a personal responsibility to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Don’t let your guard down. Reimagine your holiday celebrations. Continue social (physical) distancing, handwashing, and wearing face coverings. Be mindful there are individuals who don’t exhibit symptoms but may still infect others. In these unprecedented times, we must exercise caution to keep ourselves, family members, and the community-at-large safe.  

The day will come when we can remove the “distance” from our social gatherings and “reconnect” with our larger family and community circles. Until then, please continue to be mindful of the safety protocols.

Travel Restrictions

Travelers from the following states and territories should quarantine upon arrival in Chicago: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. Stay up to date with travel restrictions on a weekly basis here

New Yale Study - COVID-19 Cases in Child Care

On 10/14/20, researchers from Yale University released the findings of a survey of over 57,000 child care providers regarding community transmission of COVID-19 within the child care system. The survey is one of the largest epidemiological studies on a workforce ever conducted. The Yale study can be found on the American Academy of Pediatrics website. The full study and an Executive Summary can be found on the Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) website.  

Key findings: The study found that exposure to child care was not associated with an elevated risk of spreading COVID-19 to providers, as long as programs continue to follow core health and safety practices. The study also identifies that community spread matters, and child care programs will need to be responsive to localized transmission of COVID-19, which may result in ongoing closures or other challenges. The study did not investigate the effects of COVID-19 on children in child care. It focused solely on adults working in child care settings.

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.

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.

Keep Your Family and Your Home Safe During COVID-19

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation that is being closely monitored by numerous federal and local agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). Each of these agencies provide valuable resources for the most up-to-date information including:

COVID-19 Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) continues to recommend that you stay home as much as possible, avoid unnecessary interactions with people who do not live in your household, practice social distancing (keep 6 feet away from others when you are outside the home), wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face. These are the most important steps to stop the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

As an additional measure, in line with CDC guidance, CDPH recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures may be difficult to maintain (for example, grocery stores and pharmacies). The covering can be a scarf, a bandana, or one you make at home. Please save medical masks, including N95s and surgical masks, for our healthcare workers and first responders who truly need them.

Face coverings protect others in case you have contracted COVID-19 but don’t yet have symptoms. This guidance is in response to new studies that have shown that people can spread the virus to others before showing symptoms. These face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Illinois remains under a Stay at Home order and people should NOT feel they can go outside more because they are wearing a face covering. 

Get your questions on face coverings answered with these best practices from CDPH: Here

ASK DR ARWADY: Have questions about #coronavirus? Dr. Arwady from the Chicago Department of Public Health is answering is taking questions from the public via social media with “The Doc Is In: Ask Dr. Arwady” every day during a livestream at 11:00 a.m. #AskDrArwady

The daily social briefings will be hosted on all of the city’s social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter ( and

Food safety, nutrition, and wellness during COVID-19 - The Harvard School of Public Health has a resource that covers important information on grocery shopping, takeout meals and food delivery, meal planning, cooking, and eating, and exercise.

Find More Resources and Information for Yourself and Your Home

Special Caution!

Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Are you at higher risk for serious illness?

West Side United's COVID-19 Resources ( provide links and information on education tools, food resources, health guidance, and small business needs

Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities grantee Communities Partnering 4 Peace ( is pivoting to educate communities about COVID-19, in addition to continuing its gun violence prevention outreach

The Ounce Online Training Portal

Visit the Achieve OnDemand online training portal and take advantage of our comprehensive offering of self-paced trainings and webinars made just for home visiting professionals.

Girl Playing Doctor w Teacher