Cross-system Preparation, Professional Development & Supports

Provide our youngest children with high-quality early care & education by investing in the workforce

Illinois has an opportunity to address both workforce shortages and address longstanding inequities in the early childhood workforce, as well as make mental health services more available to families. To build a robust pipeline of professionals, coordinated efforts are needed to align professional competencies and clear the pathways to professional development and supports. 

Building Bridges

Ensuring professionals reflect the children they serve

The diversity of children age 5 and under in Illinois is growing with 24.3% Latinx, 15.6% Black and 9.1% identifying as Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or two or more races, according to the U.S. Census Bureau). Ensuring professionals in the field reflect the children they serve and have the cultural and linguistic competencies can build bridges between home and school to promote language and social-emotional development, support cultural identity development and deepen learning.  

49% of children

under age 5

in IL identify

as nonwhite

How to Get There

  • Align and integrate early childhood professional development across infant and toddler programs and services utilizing a shared quality framework 
  • Align professional competencies across training programs so that the employees are best prepared to take on a variety of roles 
  • Establish statewide system for mental health consultation that functions across all early childhood settings led by a centralized entity that manages the training and professional development, provider database and deployment of the workforce 
  • Implement policies that remediate structural inequities and promote accountability 

600 Infant/Early

Childhood Mental

Health Consultants

Projected Impacts

  • 600 Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants in an Illinois database that parties can turn to when in need of a consultant 
  • Increased number of early childhood professionals qualified and eligible for a range of positions in the birth to three field 
  • Aligned professional development system available to the birth to age 3 workforce 
  • Institutionalized processes and standards to remediate historical inequities and hold current and future workforce accountable to sustained equity goals 
  • Improved family and community engagement practices, paying special attention to power sharing and collaborative policymaking 

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