Who is the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce?
The ECEC workforce includes a diverse field of professionals working to support young children's development.
A qualified, valued, supported, and well-compensated workforce forms the foundation of high-quality early childhood education and care.
Statewide Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity
To support the critical early childhood education and care infrastructure, and in response to shortages of qualified early childhood educators (with high vacancy rates in child care centers, community-based early childhood programs, and school-based classrooms across the State), on July 28, 2021,
Governor JB Pritzker announced a $200 million investment to strengthen Illinois' early childhood workforce. The funding aims to advance racial equity while expanding the early childhood educator pipeline through advanced degree scholarships, trainings, and mentorships.
Additionally, Governor Pritzker signed HB2878 (P.A. 102-0174), establishing the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity to strengthen access to high-quality child care and direct this funding to where it can be most effective. The Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity is an agreement between all public universities and community colleges, as well as any private institutions that choose to participate, to cooperate, through regional hubs, in order to improve access to associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees and certificates, Gateways credentials, and other licensure endorsements. The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) are working together to convene a Consortium Advisory Committee and provide guidance on the operation of the Consortium.
Resources to Support Workforce Development in Illinois
Licensure and Credentials
Gateways Credentials – Gateways Credentials are symbols of professional achievement that show your knowledge, skills, and experience in caring for and educating children. Credentials are awarded and recognized by the Illinois Department of Human Services Bureau of Child Care and Development. Some Circles of Quality in ExceleRate Illinois require Gateways Credentials, and employers can use Credentials to help in their hiring decisions.
Credential Renewal fees are currently being waived for most early childhood Credentials.
New Family Specialist Credential - The Gateways Family Specialist Credential (FSC) is for professionals who provide direct services to families. They work in a variety of settings and their titles vary. Some of the positions who would apply for the FSC might be Family Case Workers, Parent Educators, or Family Advocates. Those earning the FSC will have special knowledge of managing family relationships and documented "family-related" work experience.
"The Future Depends on Teachers"
- The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), in partnership with TEACH, announced a PSA campaign for K-12 public schools. The campaign, titled "The Future Depends on Teachers," celebrates the role teachers play in shaping our future and invites people to explore teaching at a time when teachers are needed more than ever.
Gateways Scholarship Program – This program will pay a portion of tuition for eligible professionals working in early childhood education and care or school-aged programs who want to earn college credit, Credentials, or degrees.
Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship (CEWLS) - This scholarship program aims to support Chicagoans and the current Chicago Early Learning workforce as they pursue coursework to earn a Credential, degree, endorsement, or licensure to work with young children (birth through Pre-k) and families in Chicago Early Learning programs.
Great START Wage Supplements - Great START (Strategy to Attract and Retain Teachers) is a wage supplement program that acknowledges child care practitioners who have completed college coursework and stay at their current place of employment. Great START recipients are sent a check every six months (based on continued eligibility) to supplement their income.
Click here to view numerous workforce initiatives funded by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5), including the
ExceleRate Pilot Project which is testing the salary and staffing pattern enhancements needed to meet pilot ExceleRate standards, and the development of a searchable statewide
Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant (I/ECMHC) database, among others.
Click here for information about the implementation of the Pyramid Model in Illinois, as well as the work of the Illinois Pyramid Model State Leadership Team.
- Gateways ECE Level 2 Prior Learning Assessment Initiative
- ECE Credential Level 5 to PEL Bridge Initiative
- Infant Toddler Competency Initiative
- Gateways to Opportunity ECE Credential Competency Content Pilot
- Gateways to Opportunity Prior Learning Assessment Pilot Report
- Competency Based B.A. Program: National Louis University
- PDG B5 Education Reimbursement Initiative Data Analysis Report
- PDG B5 Education Reimbursement Program Summary
- PDG B5 Gateways Scholarship Supplemental Funding Summary
- 2021 PDG B5 Credential Fee Waivers Data
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Pandemic Surveys (2020 - present)
- National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER)
Workforce Research Reports (2002 - present)
Illinois Cost Model for Early Childhood Education and Care Services (State of Illinois, Updated February 2021)
Illinois' Early Childhood Education Workforce 2020 Report (INCCRRA, 2020)
The Workforce Behind the Workforce: Snapshot
Consensus Statement on Early Childhood Educator Compensation (GOECD, 2019)
Consensus Statement, One-Page Summary
Early Childhood Workforce Development Project: Overview (GOECD, 2019)
Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce: A Call to Action for the State of Illinois (Main and Yarbrough, 2018) Full Report, Executive Summary, One-Page Summary
Early Childhood Matching Project Phases 1 and 2 (NIU, 2018) Presentation
Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge: Education Reimbursement Initiative (GOECD, INCCRRA, Gateways to Opportunity)
Summary Overview (2018),
Follow-up Analysis (2019)
Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge: Cohort Initiative (GOECD, INCCRRA, Gateways to Opportunity, 2018)
The College Enrollment and Completion Patterns of Gateways Credential Holders (Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Community College Board, INCCRRA, GOECD, 2018) Full Report, Executive Summary
Voices from the Front Lines of Early Learning: 2017 Illinois Early Childhood Workforce Survey Report (Main, Yarbrough, and Patten, 2017) Full Report
Achieving Compensation Parity: Illinois' Goal for the Field of Early Childhood Care and Education (Workforce Compensation Subcommittee, Early Learning Council, 2016) Full Report, Executive Summary