Policy Strategies & Innovations Link copied!
|Innovation Name||Innovation Type||Innovation Subtype||Features at a Glance||Strategy Summary|
|Early Childhood Construction Grant Program||Expansion||Physical Space and Facilities||
Established in 2009 and renewed in 2019, the Illinois Early Childhood Construction Grant (ECCG) Program is a state-sponsored initiative to invest in quality early childhood education facilities. In July 2022, Governor J.B. Pritzker committed $60 million in capital grants for early education providers through this program. The funding supports the construction, expansion, and renovation of facilities for early learning for children from birth to age five. Centers that plan to increase their capacity to provide care and education for children in underserved communities are eligible for up to $10 million under the Early Childhood Construction Grant. The centers must contribute from 3% to 10% of the cost. The ECCG Program is administered by the Capital Development Board (CDB), an independent state agency that oversees construction of state facilities and other public purpose capital projects. Grant funds must be used for non-recurring durable improvements, such as adding onto an existing building, new construction of a facility or renovations to an existing facility to create a new early childhood center, acquisition of a facility, purchase or replacement of equipment, safety improvements, and classroom conversions.Learn More: Early Childhood Construction Grant Program
IFF. (2022). Frequently Asked Questions: Illinois Early Childhood Construction Grant Program.
|Chicago Early Childhood Integrated Data System (CECIDS)||Infrastructure Systems||Data Systems||
Early Childhood Integrated Data System
In 2022, the Northern Illinois University Research & Data Collaborative launched the Chicago Early Childhood Integrated Data System(CECIDS), which is governed by the City of Chicago. The system functions as a cloud-based data hub and data visualization tool for demographic, program, and individual data related to 52 specific early childhood questions and use cases. CECIDS is governed by multiple agencies and organizations (e.g., City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, Chicago Public Schools, and Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, and others) and shares state and city data across multiple stakeholders (e.g., City of Chicago: Mayor’s Office, Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, Illinois Action for Children, Illinois Department of Human Services, Illinois State Board of Education, and others) for public use. CECIDS hosts a data dashboard and data visualization tool with demographic and program eligibility and services data.
The system is funded by philanthropic donations, the City of Chicago, and the State of Illinois.Learn more/source: Chicago Early Childhood Integrated Data System
|ExceleRate Pilot||Workforce||Pay Scales and Parity||
In FY22: Minimum compensation ranged from $12.25/hour (teacher assistant with no credential) to $20.50/hour (Illinois Director Credential, Level III)
Launched in March 2020 as part of Illinois' broader ExceleRate Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), the 3-year ExceleRate Pilot Project sought to test new approaches to quality improvement, including a "compensation first" strategy for promoting retention and enhancing program quality. 38 programs participated in the pilot project; all programs were in rural counties and served a relatively high proportion of subsidy-eligible children (at least 40%). Participating programs were required and supported to pay a minimum baseline salary according to a salary scale based on educators' and directors' educational attainment and role.
In FY2022, minimum compensation ranged from $12.25 per hour (for a teacher assistant with no credential) to $20.50 per hour (for an employee with a Level III Illinois Director Credential).
This pilot was implemented through a partnership between the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development and the Illinois Department of Human Services using federal Preschool Development Grant Birth-Five dollars. It will continue in the future under the "Smart Start Quality Support Program (SSQS)" name.Learn More: ExceleRate Pilot Project
ExceleRate Illinois. (n.d.). Pilot Project.
ExceleRate Illinois. (2022). FY22 Salary Scale.
|Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship||Workforce||Professional Learning||
Scholarship covers 100% of tuition plus $250 in books per course
In 2018, through a partnership between the Mayor’s Office, City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), Harry S. Truman College, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and the Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS), Chicago created the Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship (CELWS) initiative. CELWS empowers the early learning workforce to take courses and earn a credential, degree, endorsement or licensure to work with young children (birth through pre-K) and families in Chicago programs. The scholarship covers 100% of tuition, plus up to $250 in books per course, but it functions as a “last dollar” scholarship in that it covers everything that students’ federal grants and other scholarships do not. The scholarship is open to any Chicago resident who wants to enter the early childhood workforce. Parents of children enrolled in a Chicago program and recent high-school graduates are encouraged to apply, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are eligible. CELWS recipients must commit to working in a Chicago early learning program (including CPS Pre-K and Head Start/Early Head Start/PFA/PI funded community-based programs) for a minimum of three years after completing the degree or approved academic program.Learn more: Chicago Early Learning Workforce Scholarship
Chicago Early Learning. (n.d.). Workforce Scholarship.
|Social Impact Bonds||Dedicated Funding Streams||Social Impact Bonds||
Initiative funded through $17 million in social impact bonds
In 2014, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the City of Chicago partnered with the Goldman Sachs Social Impact Fund, the Northern Trust Company, and the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation to launch the Chicago Child-Parent Center Pay for Success Initiative funded by a Pay-for-Success contract. The contract allowed the City to expand high-quality pre-K services to more than 2,600 low-income 4-year-olds across eight schools. The funding partners provided nearly $17 million in upfront capital and included a 4-year service delivery term, and a 17-year evaluation and repayment term. In a pay-for-success model, lenders provide the upfront capital necessary to operate a program that produces long term avoided costs to the government. The government then uses those savings to repay the lenders.Learn More: Urban Institute
|Illinois Longitudinal Data System||Infrastructure Systems||Data Systems||
P-20 Longitudinal Data System
Created in 2009, the Illinois State Board of Education’s Longitudinal Data System is a P-20 longitudinal data systemthat includes data on state-funded pre-K, special education early childhood programs, and infant and toddler programs. The system functions as a warehouse and linking mechanism across state agencies, including the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development. The system links program and individual data ranging from early childhood education and care to K-12/higher education to the workforce. The individual data is deidentified with a unique identifier. Data is available internally for agencies and authorized users.
The Illinois Longitudinal Data System was created through Public Act 096-0107. The system has been funded by a federal Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant and the Statewide Longitudinal Data System Recovery Act Grant, which authorized the expansion of infant and toddler data collection.Learn More: Illinois Longitudinal Data System Project
|Illinois Preschool for All Program & Preschool for All Expansion Program||Expansion||Universal Pre-K Policy (3-Year-Olds) Universal Pre-K Policy (4-Year-Olds)||
Percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled (as of 2022): 31%
In 2006, Illinois launched its Preschool for All (PFA) Program, which was expanded in 2017 using dollars from a federal Preschool Development Grant. The program, which operates in nearly every county in the state, is a targeted one, serving children who are considered at-risk based on both economic and developmental factors. As of 2022, Illinois served 31% of 4-year-olds and 21% of 3-year-olds.Learn More: Illinois Preschool for All
|Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (ICEAM)||Infrastructure Systems||Data Systems||
Data Visualization Tool
Since 2006, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) have coordinated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to host the Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM). The Early Childhood Asset Map is a data visualization toolthat provides demographic and program data on early childhood programs (e.g., licensed settings, Preschool For All, Head Start, and more), health factors, socioeconomic factors, and geographic regions related to services for children from birth to five. The tool is for public use and has begun to support the state’s data integration initiatives.
IECAM was developed after the state’s Early Learning Council called for a web-based tool to support decision making. The IECAM is funded through the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Human Services.Learn more: Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM)
|Early Childhood Professional Learning||Workforce||Professional Learning||
Includes coaching, training, and an online component
Early Childhood Professional Learning (ECPL) provides free professional learning and resources to support Illinois State Board of Education-funded programs in implementing evidence-based practices to improve outcomes for young children and their families. It offers workshops, webinars, technical assistance, and coaching for professionals working with children from birth to 5 years old. It is funded by the Early Childhood Block Grant and Illinois State Board of Education. Illinois also offers other resources to its early education workforce, including individualized coaching.Learn more: Illinois Early Education Professional Development and Resources
Illinois State Board of Education. (n.d.). Illinois Early Education Professional Development and Resources.
Illinois State Board of Education. (n.d.). Early Childhood Professional Development.
Demographics Link copied!
12,582,032 Source U.S. Census, 2022
13.1% Source U.S. Census, 2020
86.9% Source U.S. Census, 2020
Number of children age 0-4
706,621 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Poverty levels – children 0-8 below 200% poverty
36% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Median family income among households with children
$90,600.00 Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
4.7% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2022
Unemployment rate of parents
4% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force
70% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Children living in households with a high housing cost burden
28% Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Child population by race and ethnicity Source KIDS COUNT, 2021
Race and Ethnicity
- American Indian and Alaska Native (0.49%)
- Asian (6%)
- Black or African American (15%)
- Hispanic or Latino (25%)
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (0.49%)
- Two or More Races (4%)
- White, not Hispanic or Latino (50%)
Political Landscape Link copied!
Early Childhood Education Programs Link copied!
Percent of 3-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023
- 3-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (21%)
- 3-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (6%)
- Other/none (73%)
Percent of 4-Year-Old Children Enrolled in Public Early Childhood Education Programs Source: NIEER 2023
- 4-year-old children enrolled in state-funded public pre-K (31%)
- 4-year-old children enrolled in Head Start (6%)
- Other/none (63%)
Workforce Link copied!
2017–2019 Median Hourly Wages Source CSCCE 2018, 2020
- Child care workers
- Preschool teachers
- Preschool or child care center directors
Funding Sources Link copied!
Federal and State Early Childhood Education Funding (in millions) Source First Five Years Fund, 2022
- Head Start and Early Head Start Funding ($386.0)
- CCDBG & Mandatory Funds ($306.6)
- CCDBG State Match ($47.3)
- CCDBG COVID Relief Allocations – CARES, CRRSE, ARPA (CCDF & Stabilization) ($1700.0)
- State-Funded Pre-K ($413.0)
- MIECHV ($8.5)
- IDEA Part C ($24.8)
- IDEA Part B, Sec 619 ($27.3)
- TANF Early Learning and Care Expenditures ($664.7)
- Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five ($17.4)
The COVID Funding Cliff
All federal COVID relief allocations, including funding authorized by the CARES, CRRSE, and ARPA bills, must be fully spent by September 2024. An analysis from the Century Foundation shows this loss of funds could cause more than 3 million children to lose access to child care nationwide – including more than 128,000 children in Illinois.