Blog | March 31, 2020

Illinois leaders take charge in response to COVID-19

Members of Mission: Readiness, Fight Crime, and ReadyNation help promote child care options for essential workers

In dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, Illinois has been under a stay-at-home order since March 21, with non-essential businesses closed. The effects of both the illness, and our necessary approach to dealing with it, are reaching every aspect of society with incredible hardships and demands. Among those affected are many members of Mission: Readiness, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, and ReadyNation — the three organizations that operate in Illinois under the banner of Council for a Strong America (CSA) – as well as the people they serve.

We are proud to say that these members — leaders among the ranks of retired military, law enforcement, and business — have risen to the challenge of this crisis, and engaged in extraordinary service to our state.

As the head of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Mission: Readiness member Alicia Tate-Nadeau (U.S. Army Brigadier General, retired) has been tasked by Governor J.B. Pritzker to co-lead the state’s effort to counter the coronavirus pandemic. Fight Crime member Brendan Kelly, as director of the State Police, has coordinated law enforcement response throughout Illinois. Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman was herself stricken with the disease, but continued managing her department while in quarantine. ReadyNation executives in the health care field — such as Blessing Health System President Maureen Kahn in Quincy — have quarterbacked their institutions’ efforts to prepare for an influx of COVID-19 patients while keeping their staffs safe.

Let’s tackle these emergency child care concerns of the present, and ensure we return to strengthening child care for the long-term

Kayla Edwards, Express Employment Professionals

We salute the extraordinary leadership of these and others among our members in supporting the people of Illinois through this crisis. Plus, we also remember that they and the people with whom they work still desperately need support: With schools and most child care centers closed by gubernatorial order, law-enforcement’s first-responders and others either running or working for “essential” businesses find themselves in dire need of child care for their families.

To meet that need, the members of Fight Crime, ReadyNation, and Mission: Readiness have been spreading the word about the state’s new network of child care options for essential workers. Parents seeking these alternative arrangements are directed to or the Early Learning Helpline at (888) 228-1146 weekdays between 9 a.m. and- 3 p.m. To that end, we have been aided by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, who have generously reached-out to their own members with these resources. For those seeking emergency providers, be aware that availability may still be limited as the system ramps-up to meet demand.

These acute child care needs are a reminder that, even during normal times, early education and care are critical for children and for working families.

As ReadyNation member Kayla Edwards, Managing Partner of Springfield’s Express Employment Professionals, wrote in a March 30 letter to the State Journal-Register:

“As an executive whose full-time job is to help boost employment, I applaud this effort to help ensure care for the children of nurses and doctors, police and firefighters, grocery store and gas station employees, and still others on whom our communities continue to depend…

“Child care providers are a core part of our economy, helping to keep the current workforce moving as well as laying the foundation for young children’s skills development, the basis of our future workforce…

“Let’s tackle these emergency child care concerns of the present, and ensure we return to strengthening child care for the long-term.”

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim, pointing to the crime-prevention benefits of early education and care, added in a letter to the Chicago Tribune that “Such investments help us in the battle against disease today, and will aid us in the battle against crime tomorrow.”

We are living in incredibly insecure times. As always, the members of ReadyNation, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, and Mission: Readiness are reminding us that, when we focus on proven strategies to help children, we are working to create a more secure future.

Pictured at top are Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau (U.S. Army Brigadier General, retired), State Police Director Brendan Kelly, Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman, and Blessing Health System President and CEO Maureen Kahn.

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