Potential opportunity: Need your feedback immediately

Issue.  With the recent Illinois school closings expected through the end of March 2020 or potentially a few weeks longer, many healthcare workers have children now home or have lost their childcare providers. Healthcare workers most likely will have to add the cost of childcare and/or pay more for a new childcare site in their community. Critical access and rural hospitals have limited resources, and their healthcare workers need to be able to work so that patient care can be provided. It is essential that hospital care staff have access to childcare so they can continue to do their critical work to maintain the health safety net.

Response.  Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation (ILCHF) is exploring the possibility of using grant funds to help critical access and small, rural hospital staff (who have identified financial needs) and assist with their childcare costs during this time of the pandemic crisis. Before making any funding decisions, ILCHF first needs to understand the needs in your hospital. One possible approach is for grant funds to be provided to your hospital to help reimburse staff addressing the increased cost of childcare.  Another approach is for your hospital to receive grant funds to support an in-house childcare alternative on a temporary basis. ILCHF has reached out to ICAHN and is working through us to identify hospitals and their workers who might benefit from the childcare financial support and then determine how such support could be provided. If ILCHF moves forward with this funding opportunity, their grant funds would be made to ICAHN, and we would then administer the distribution grant funds to participating hospitals. There is no obligation to participate in this program, but it does provide an opportunity to take advantage of funding support in time of need.

ICAHN is looking to understand the needs related to hospital staff who (1) earn less than $25 per hour; (2) are in need of financial support beyond what is publicly available for child care from birth through age 12; and (3) that the difficulty with child care is a potential or actual barrier to staff performing their hospital responsibilities.

To participate in the grant opportunity, it would be a relatively simple process of emailing Stephanie DeMay at sdemay@icahn.org or Pat Schou at pschou@icahn.org if your hospital is experiencing this issue and if you are interested in participating in the grant funding program, should it come to fruition.  If the need is clear and grant funds are made available, there would be a short form for your hospital to complete and ICAHN would then review and award the hospitals selected. This grant award process would be similar to the process ICAHN uses to award grants and scholarships through the Flex and SHIP programs. We ask that interested hospitals respond by 5 pm on Thursday, March 19, 2020 to this issue and indicate the following:

  1. Estimated number of staff needing childcare support to continue performing their work
  2. Estimated number of children needing alternative childcare funding
  3. Whether the hospital is considering providing on-site childcare or supporting individual staff in locating their own childcare (utilizing a childcare provider who has completed a background check)

The Illinois Department of Human Services recommends that babysitters have an approved background check to ensure safety for your children. With schools and other child-related professions now temporarily closed, we have listed below several professional groups that already have approved background checks:

  • School teachers/auxiliary staff and childcare teachers whose schools/programs have closed
  • Regular classroom assistants
  • Regular parent volunteers
  • Faith-based programs
  • Independent tutoring programs
  • Park district programs
  • After school program/Latch Key
  • Community college students and faculty

If the need is determined to exist, ILCHF staff would act as efficiently as possible to coordinate with its Board of Directors around the possibility of a grant to be led and administered by ICAHN. It is possible, though in no way promised, that should ILCHF award such grant funds, these funds could be made available in the next two to three weeks. Because of people’s financial needs, ILCHF needs your information as soon as possible and that is why this communication is time sensitive.