SPRINGFIELD – Workers in Illinois whose jobs are deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic are now eligible for increased state child care services, Gov. JB Pritzker said Sunday.

Because essential workers cannot always be home to care for their children, Pritzker announced the state has expanded its Child Care Assistance Program to include workers in health care, human services, essential government services and essential infrastructure.

The state will cover most of the cost of care at emergency child care centers and homes, the governor said. Workers now eligible for emergency child care assistance range from nurses, doctors and hospital support staff to grocery store workers and food producers.

“Our essential workforce deserves to know that their kids are safe and cared for in a small and affordable group setting,” Pritzker said Sunday during his daily coronavirus briefing in Chicago.

Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, entered the briefing room wearing surgical masks, which Pritzker has recommended Illinoisans wear in crowded places.

Essential workers can find child care applications on the Illinois Department of Human Services website, DHS.illinois.gov/helpishere, and the state’s website of COVID-19 resources, coronavirus.illinois.gov.