I hope you are all healthy and safe as we enter our eighth week under the statewide shutdown. I am very happy to inform you that utilizing a combination of COVID-19 emergency funds and reallocating Toddle Towne Learning Center funds from operating expenses, planned facility upgrades, and stockholder dividends that we are able to guarantee continued payroll distributions for our dedicated staff until the end of May.
It has been a very difficult time for everyone and it is made even harder by the uncertainty of when and how it will end. I am very aware that the uncertainty makes it very hard for you to make plans for your family and with your employer. I wish I could give you a date when we would reopen to provide care but unfortunately, it is not that simple.
Toddle Towne Learning Centers operates with a license issued by the state of Illinois and is under the authority of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services which is part of the Department of Human Services. When this crisis began and the Governor of Illinois enacted the statewide shut down he suspended all DCFS licensed Day Care Centers in the state of Illinois. The state of Illinois then issued licenses for Emergency Care Centers that were specific to care for the children of essential workers while they were at work. When the guidelines were released for the Emergency Care Centers it was determined that TTLC did not fit the stated criteria.
This week the Governor of Illinois came out with the Restore Illinois plan which details how things have and will be handled moving forward. The governor’s plan specifies five phases in regard to the pandemic. The phases start with phase 1 which is a total shut down of all non-essential services and progresses to phase 5 which is the total restoration of business as usual in the state of Illinois. The governor also stated specifically that we may move backward in phases as well if, for example, we start to open things up and have a second wave of COVID-19 then we would move back to a previous phase.
As of today, we are 12 days into phase 2 and if things remain stable we could enter phase 3 by the end of May. The soonest we could then enter phase 4 is by the end of June. With the information that is currently available and assuming nothing changes for the worse TTLC would be back to providing childcare at the end of June at the latest.
There is some confusion at this point on if the DCFS licenses for child care centers will be reinstated at phase 3 or phase 4 and I am in contact with state agencies trying to clear that up. If our license is reinstated in phase 3 then we would be able to provide care as early as June 1st.
You may have heard about meetings taking place within Madison County to come up with their own plan to open up businesses faster than is being allowed at the state level, however, since we are licensed by the State of Illinois we cannot legally operate until regular daycare licenses have been restored at the state level, or unless at some point we are deemed eligible and decide to apply for an Emergency Care License to care for the children of essential workers.
I will continue to monitor the situation and make you aware of any new information as quickly as possible, but please know that we will open back up as soon as DCFS daycare licenses are reinstated by the state of Illinois. Many of our staff have been hard at work, individually of course, to make sure that the centers are ready to go the minute we get the green light. We can’t wait to see you again, stay safe and healthy.