Accessible Family & Center-based Care and Learning

Providing necessary early learning experiences that help infants and toddlers lay the foundation for future health and success

Quality care for children under age 3 is labor intensive and expensive. Yet, reimbursement rates for providers do not consider the true cost of providing this care, contributing to abysmally low wages for caregivers. In fact, nearly half (46%) of child care workers in Illinois are paid so little that they receive some form of public benefits (e.g., EITC, Medicaid, Food Stamps, TANF).

A Workforce in Crisis

Poor compensation coupled with difficult and demanding working conditions create high turnover and have led to a workforce shortage despite the low qualification requirements in Illinois.

Fully funded, consistent and safe early learning programs and an adequately compensated early childhood education workforce are needed to provide necessary early learning experiences to help infants and toddlers to lay the foundation for future success.

600x600 Blocks

How to Get There

  • Dramatically increase capacity, employing the use of contracts and increased provider reimbursement rates to make high-quality care economically viable for providers 
  • Redesign and expand commitment to family child care networks that are responsive to community needs and preferences 
  • Expand center-based Early Head Start and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships 
  • Establish a tiered funding ladder for ExceleRate Illinois that reflects the cost of delivering services at different levels of quality 
  • Expand use of contracts in the Child Care Assistance Program to ensure dedicated slots and adequate funding for high-quality infant-toddler care 
  • Embed Gateways to Opportunity Early Childhood Credentials into DCFS licensing standards to promote increased program quality and continuity of care 
  • Increase state and federal funding for infant-toddler family and center-based care and allocate a higher percentage of current funds to infant-toddler care
  • Establish quality improvement grants that provide funding and technical assistance for infant-toddler family and center-based providers to encourage programs to participate in and achieve higher circles of quality in ExceleRate Illinois  
  • Establish annual funding to build new or modify existing facilities to serve infants and toddlers 
  • Increase opportunities for staff to enter and advance their careers by reserving and prioritizing scholarship and wage supplements for infant-toddler candidates, and expanding opportunities to provide funds directly to higher education institutions to support infant-toddler cohorts 
Children playing with blocks with caretakers
  • Develop a well-qualified workforce representative of the children served, including a focus on the bilingual and bicultural workforce, where the greatest disparities exist 
  • Increase salaries of all infant-toddler providers 
  • Produce a comprehensive report on the current state of access to and need for infant-toddler early learning and care, its impact on the economy, child and family outcomes, etc. 
  • Propose a roadmap to meet demand for high-quality child care that supports positive economic development in Illinois 

Impact 7,000

infants & toddlers

Projected Outcome

  • More than doubling capacity in high-quality center- and family-based care and targeting quality improvement strategies to impact 7,000 infants and toddlers  
  • Higher levels of quality center- and family-based care programs that meets the unique needs of families throughout the state 
  • Dedicated slots and adequate funding for high-quality infant-toddler care 
  • An early childhood workforce that is representative of the children served, including a focus on the bilingual and bicultural, where the greatest disparities exist among families 

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