Partnership offers $50,000 in support of Adams County child care providers

Child Care Appreciation

Chandler Keltz, right, of West Central Child Care Connection delivers an appreciation bag with a Kohl Cash & Carry gift card to a local family child care provider. | Photo courtesy of the Community Foundation

QUINCY, Ill. — Adams County received a boost of $50,000 last month as part of a joint effort to support local childcare providers.

The Community Foundation, Kohl Wholesale, West Central Child Care Connection and a private funder partnered to provide Kohl Cash and Carry gift cards to child care providers to help offset food costs for their programs. A total of 87 gift cards were delivered by West Central Child Care Connection staff as part of a gift basket designed to show appreciation and encouragement to local providers. The gift cards ranged from $450 to $1,350 per provider, depending on the number of children enrolled.

In a press release, Matt Ehrhart of Kohl Wholesale said, “At Kohl Wholesale, we’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in this fabulous program. Child care providers play a vital role in our communities, nurturing and educating the future generation as well as supporting the local employers in our area. We understand the dedication and hard work that goes into creating a safe and stimulating environment for our youngest citizens. We hope the gift cards show our appreciation and can be used to purchase additional resources or supplies that benefit the children in their care.”

To receive a gift card, providers were asked to submit a brief survey. Response to the program was positive, with 88 percent of providers responding to the survey.

“I have been doing this for a long time, and some days I wonder if I should be doing something else that pays better. This goodie bag and gift card is a reminder that what I do is important and my community sees and appreciates me. Thank you so much,” one childcare provider said. 

There were 148 licensed family childcare providers in 2019 in Adams County with 1,362 slots for children. Today, 99 licensed family childcare providers offer 877 slots.

“Local support is critical to help keep adequate child care capacity in rural communities,” said Marla Willard, director of West Central Child Care Connection. “Child care is in our name, and we continually look for ways to partner with foundations, social service organizations and businesses to help elevate and value the child care workforce.

“Kohl Wholesale’s investment is one of many ways that business owners and corporations can step up to invest in local child care. You never know what might come of a committed grassroots effort. Since the height of the pandemic, five child care centers have opened their doors in this region of Illinois, because community leaders and businesses knew their community’s well-being and economy was tied to having adequate child care options for working families.”

The program was developed as part of a task force focused on sharing resources and collaborating to address the local child care workforce shortage. High-quality early care and education has long-lasting impacts on youth development, increasing children’s readiness for school and preparing them for success into adulthood.

“Quality child care — and enough of it — is vital to the well-being of our community today and in the future,” said Catherine Bocke Meckes, Community Foundation CEO. “Child care is an important job. Children are our community’s most precious resources, and we are grateful to passionate individuals who dedicate themselves to nurturing the next generation.”

Funding through the Community Foundation came from the Communityworks Endowment Fund, which is dedicated to advancing early childhood education and workforce development in Adams, Brown, Hancock and Pike counties. Additional support was provided by a donor advised fund administered through the Community Foundation.

For more information about this effort or the Communityworks Endowment, contact the Community Foundation at 217-222-1237. For more information about finding or providing child care, contact West Central Child Care Connection at 217-222-2550.

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