Illinois’ Early Care and Education Workforce

Who is the early childhood education and care workforce?

The early childhood education and care 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.

The Early Childhood Workforce Development Project

Formed in 2016 as one of the inaugural projects of the Governor's Cabinet on Children and Youth, the vision for the Early Childhood Workforce Development project is that all Illinois children have access to high-quality early childhood education and care services delivered by a qualified, valued, and supported workforce. 

Project membership includes representation from all state agencies involved in early childhood education and care and external stakeholders including providers, higher education faculty, child care resource and referral agencies, and advocates. The project is led by GOECD.

Download an overview of the Early Childhood Workforce Development project, including goals, strategies, accomplishments, and membership, here.

The Early Childhood Workforce Development project has produced several resources designed to support practitioners and stakeholders, on topics including:

Education Pathways
  • Informational materials for high school and postsecondary advisors and counselors on the early childhood education and care career pathway and opportunities for students to enter the field, including sample career options and potential compensation ranges.
  • Informational materials for communities and stakeholders interested in pursuing pathways initiatives, such as education reimbursement or cohorts to support early childhood educator candidates in attaining higher education.
  • Summaries of pathways initiatives funded through Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge: Education Reimbursement Initiative (and follow-up analysis) and Cohort Initiative.
  • Guidance for institutions of higher education and early childhood education and care providers on PA 100-0645 (SB1829), a law that states that between 2018-2023, educators with a Gateways ECE Credential Level 5 are eligible to teach in Preschool for All classrooms while working toward their Professional Educator License.
    • View PA 100-645 here.
  • Information on accessing funding through the Workforce Investment Opportunities Act (WIOA) to support early childhood educator candidates in attaining higher education [coming soon!]

Additional Resources to Support Workforce Development

Licensure and Credentials
Wage Supplements
  • Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce: A Call to Action for the State of Illinois (Main and Yarbrough, 2018) Full Report, Executive Summary, One-Pager
  • Voices from the Front Lines of Early Learning: 2017 Illinois Early Childhood Workforce Survey Report (Main, Yarbrough, and Patten, 2017) Full Report
  • Early Childhood Matching Project Phases 1 and 2 (NIU, 2018) Click here
  • The College Enrollment and Completion Patterns of Gateways Credential Holders (Illinois Board of Higher Education, 2018) Full Report, Executive Summary
  • 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