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For Providers 

Increasing the quality of early childhood programs is a top priority in Illinois. Below you will find information on various scholarship programs, professional development opportunities as well as other resources to support quality enhancements.

Early Learning Challenge

The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge is a joint initiative of the federal Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services aimed at driving the quality of early childhood systems by enhancing cross system collaboration and targeting support to high need children.

Preschool Expansion Grant

Providers can use the documents below to assist them in developing a finalized budget and apply to be Subgrantees as part of the State's upcoming Preschool Expansion Grant Application.

How to complete the Budget Workbook

Budget Book for Preschool Development Grant Subgrantees


Gateways to Opportunity Professional Development System

Statewide professional development support system designed to provide guidance, encouragement, and recognition to individuals and programs serving children, youth, and families.

Gateways to Opportunity Registry

The Gateways to Opportunity Registry is a web based tool for early learning and other youth practitioners and programs to drive quality and accountability by allowing for easy monitoring of individual professional attainments and trainings.

Gateways Scholarship Program

Scholarships are available to assist students in early childhood programs of study.

Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC)

PDAC is an advisory body which makes recommendations on improving the stability of the early care and education workforce through increased professional development and improved opportunities for career advancement.

ExceleRate Illinois

This Quality Rating and Improvement System provides a process for pursuing quality efforts that will help providers and improve developmental skills among the children they serve.  

2014 ExceleRate Awards of Excellence available here.

Curriculum Crosswalk

The Curriculum Crosswalk is a process through which providers can submit existing curricula to be reviewed for alignment with the new ExceleRate Illinois criteria. Applications are  accepted year-round and are reviewed three times annually. The next review will take place in Spring 2015. Applications must be recieved by February 28, 2015 to be reviewed in the upcoming cycle.

Application for Recognition in ExceleRate Illinois

Template for Crosswalk with Proposed Curriculum

Template for Crosswalk with Proposed Curriculum (b)

Quality Counts Child Care Grant

Mini grants are awarded to child care providers annually through local child care resource and referral (CCRR's) agencies to support quality improvements.

Screening MOUs

Language for Screening Memorandi of Understanding for Early Care & Education programs and Lead Education Agencies, as well as guidance for screening, is now available. Please see the links below.

Early Learning Insights


Starting in March of 2015, the Office of Early Childhood Development will send out Early Learning Insights, the monthly OECD Newsletter, on the first Tuesday of each month. If you'd like to receive Early Learning Insights in your mailbox each month, email us to let us know.

Newsletter Archive:

For Providers


Become a licensed child care provider

Licensing Standards for Day Care Centers

Licensing Standards for Day Care Homes

DCFS Day Care Information Hotline: 877-746-0829

Child Care Development Fund Reauthorization 
The Illinois Department of Human Services and the Office of Early Childhood Development produce a monthly newsletter related to the issue of CCDF reauthorization. Below is an archive of the newsletter's copies.

CCAP Billing

IDHS Child Care Telephone Billing System for Providers: The IDHS Child Care Telephone Billing system is an alternative to mailing the Child Care certificate to the local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency at the end of the each month.

The Telephone Billing system will help you get your payments quicker.

Child Care Payment Inquiries: Call (800) 804-3833

For Teachers

Gateways to Opportunities Scholarship

INCCRRA Statewide Programs through local CCR&Rs

Early Childhood Block Grant Profession Development

For Providers

Toolkit to prepare to become a Preschool For All Program

Apply to be a Preschool for All Program

Additional Resources from the Illinois State Board of Education