State of Illinois

Department of Human Services


Vision for Child Care and Early Education in Illinois

Illinois families will have multiple options for affordable quality child care and early education. All children starting at birth will be offered opportunities to grow, learn and be cared for in safe, nurturing, culturally and developmentally appropriate settings.


As required by State Statute 20 ILCS 505/5.15, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) submits an annual report to the Governor and Illinois General Assembly about the status of its child care programs.

These programs are administered by the IDHS Bureau of Child Care and Development, and include the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and the Quality Improvement Programs. The 2014 Illinois Child Care Report includes information for the Fiscal Year 2014 (July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014). The data in this report are from:  a) the Child Care Tracking System database for the Child Care Assistance Program; b) the new Child Care Management System (CCMS); c) the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies' aggregate database of the local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) parent customers, child care providers and professional development activities; and d) the Gateways to Opportunity Registry. IDHS thanks the thousands of center-based staff, family child care providers and CCR&R staff for their support in the care and education of Illinois children.


Pie chart Title XX

Funding Source Amount Percentage
Title XX  $1,200,000 Less than 1%
State GRF  $674,009,482 65.91%
TANF $139,402,852 13.63%
CCDF $207,980,911 20.33%
Total  $1,022,593,245 100.0%


The IDHS Bureau of Child Care and Development sets policy and develops programs consistent with the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Child Care's philosophy and the Bureau's Vision. ACF's overall goal is "healthy, happy and successful children." Its philosophy includes a focus on the continuum of high quality care for children from birth to age 13, and partnerships across child care, education, Head Start and health for a broader delivery system that expands family choices.

This report is designed to show how Illinois addresses the federal theme of, "Pathways and Partnerships for Child Care Excellence," which includes the following components:

  • Pathways to Stronger Policies and Accountability within a child care system by:
     o Supporting child development
     o Removing access barriers for families
     o Improving processes for providers
  • Pathways to Excellence for Child Care Programs by:
    o Ensuring the health and safety of children in child care
    o Building Quality Rating and Improvement Systems
  • Pathways to Excellence for Child Care Professionals by:
    o Building strong professional development and supportive workforce initiatives.

Quote: "The pleasures of being read to are far more likely to strengthen a child's desire to learn to read than are repetitions of sounds, alphabet drills, and deciphering uninteresting words."

~ Lilian Katz, PhD


The IDHS works with local Illinois communities to provide low-income families with access to affordable, quality child care. The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) has two primary goals:

  • To support qualifying low-income families by providing child care subsidies. This allows parents to maintain employment or further their education, thereby decreasing dependence on public assistance.
  • To allow families access to multiple options for affordable, quality child care, early education, and after school programs that offer children the opportunity to grow, learn and be cared for in safe, nurturing settings that are culturally and developmentally appropriate.


CCAP served a total of 268,482 children from 149,364 families between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. The monthly average for FY2014 was 168,215 children from 92,900 families.


Profile of Children Participating in CCAP in September 2013

  • 63.1% of children were served in licensed care, compared to 54.7% in FY2008
  • Children under 1 year of age were in child care an average of 141 hours per month
  • School-age children (ages 6 and older) accounted for 40% of all children served

Number of Children by Age Participating in CCAP

Child's Age Number Enrolled in CCAP % of Total
0 - 14 months 12,448 7.4%
15 - 23 months 13,794 8.2%
2 years 19,177 11.4%
3 - 4 years 37,512 22.3%
5 years 17,494 10.4%
6 - 12 years 66,950 39.8%
13 years and over 841 0.5%
Total 168,215

QUOTE: Healthy, physically active kids are more likely to academically motivated, alert, and successful."

~ Mary L. Gavin, MD


Profile of families participating in the CCAP in September 2013

  • 90.3% of families received subsidies because of employment
  • 8.7% of families listed TANF as a source of income
  • 94.8% of families were headed by a single parent

CCR&R Services to All Illinois Families, not just those participating in CCAP

Referral to child care settings according to the family's preferences

  • Consumer education on legal and quality child care
  • Referral to CCAP, other IDHS programs and community services
  • Toll-free number, in English and Spanish, that connects parents and child care providers to local CCR&Rs

Annual Income Guidelines by Family Size

Annual Income Guidelines by Family Size

Family of 2 Family of 3 Family of 4 Family of 5 Family of 6 Family of 7 Family of 8
FY10, Oct 1 $29,148 $36,624 $44,150 $51,588 $59,064 $66,540 $74,028
FY11, Apr 1 * $26,964 $33,872 $40,850 $47,712 $54,636 $61,560  $68,472
FY12, Jul 1 $27,216 $34,284 $41,352 $48,420 $55,488 $62,556 $69,624
FY13, Jul 1 $27,996 $35,328 $42,648 $49,980 $57,300 $64,632 $71,952
FY14, Jul 1 $28,704 $36,132 $43,572 $51,012 $58,452 $65,880 $73,320

*Income guidelines were lowered to 185% of Federal Poverty Level in April 1, 2011.

Number of CCAP Families by Monthly Co-Payment Amount

Number of Families

QUOTE: "When they are counting, they're performing a more cognitive activity in which they're associating a one-to-one correspondence with the object and the number to represent a quantity."

Louis Manfra, Associate Professor

University of Missouri


Profile of Child Care Providers Participating in CCAP in Fiscal Year 2014

  • 69.2% of the license-exempt family child care providers cared for relatives
  • 68% of the providers in the Illinois CCR&R provider database will accept CCAP children

CCR&R Services for Child Care Providers Participating in CCAP

  • Administration of parent applications
  • Processing of Monthly Child Care Certificates
  • Technical Assistance to parents and providers regarding CCAP

Number of Providers Receiving CCAP Payments in FY2014

Licensed Providers Number
Child Care Centers 2,969
Family Child Care Homes 6,090
Group Child Care Homes  435
Total 9,494
License-Exempt Providers Number
Child Care Centers 778
Family Child Care Homes
Non-relative in provider's home 7,451
Relative in provider's home 18,086
Non-relative in child's home 5,094
Relative in child's home 11,796
Total 43,205

Child Care Supply

The CCR&Rs support child care providers by referring families to their child care programs. The referral services

are available free of charge to licensed centers, family child care homes and group child care homes listed on the provider database. License-exempt centers and homes may choose to be included on the provider database. Every provider has the option to decline referral services. The Fiscal Year 2014 provider database information is shown in the table below.

Fiscal Year 2014 Statewide Child Care Database

Type of Care Number of Providers Number of Spaces
Licensed Family Child Care Homes  9,125 85,788
License-exempt Family Child Care Homes 507 1,467
Total 9,632 87,255
Type of Care Number of Providers Number of Spaces
Licensed Child Care Centers 3,187 243,657
License-Exempt Child Care Centers 2,476 167,157
Total 5,663  410,814
QUOTE: "Parents cannot work without child care. While parents work, children need to be in a safe setting that promotes their healthy development."

Child Care Aware

Child Care Demand

There are two dimensions of the "demand" for child care in any community.

  1. The number of children needing child care compared to the number of child care spaces available to meet the needs, and
  2. The unique requirements of families for their specific child care needs, such as the child's age, type of care desired, parent's work/school schedule, location, special needs of the child and cost.

Snapshot of Families Receiving Child Care Referrals in FY2014

  • 26,643 families received child care referrals by phone or online
  • 80% of families who requested referrals required child care due to employment
  • 11,429 families used the online referral system

Schedules Requested for Children and Offered by Providers

Schedule Requested for Children Offered by Family Child Care Homes Offered by Child Care Centers Offered by Providers TOTAL
Standard Hours* 18,657 8,474 2,899 11,373
Evening 3,219 4,339 143 4,482
Weekend 2,614 1,456 51 1,507
Overnight 1,031 3,078 53 3,131
Rotating 944 3,692 856 4,548
Temp/Emergency 354 4,452 851 5,303
Drop In 303 4,179 914 5,093

*A standard schedule is full-time offered during traditional day time work hours.

Number of Children for Whom Child Care was Requested by Age and Type of Care

Requests by Age of Child Number of Requests
Infants & Toddlers 6,810 31%
Two Year Old Children 2,825 12.8%
Three-Four Year Old Children 5,708 25.7%
Five Year Olds/Kindergarteners 1,708 7.7%
School Age Children 5,127 23.1%
 Total 22,178 100%
Requests by Type of Care Number of Requests 
Child Care Center  24,986 61.7%
Family Child Care Home 15,436 38.1%
In-Home Care 86 0.2%
Total 40,509  100%


Much of the data contained on pages 9 and 11 are from the parent, customer and child care provider databases compiled by the local CCR&Rs. Therefore, the data presented does not include all families and children requiring child care services in Illinois. Most families do not receive child care assistance and many families find child care services through friends, family, advertisements and other means. Additionally, many license-exempt child care programs are not listed on the provider database. Because of these factors, it is important to note that this report is only one means of examining the larger child care supply and demand picture in Illinois.

QUOTE: "Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand."

- Xunzi, Bk. 8, Ruxiao


The federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) requires at least four percent of federal funds be allocated for the improvement of child care quality. These funds are used to support the IDHS Bureau of Child Care and Development's Quality Improvement Programs, the overall goal of which is to increase the quality of child care available to all Illinois families. This goal is addressed with a multi-faceted approach that works to meet the individual needs of children, families, child care providers and communities. In Fiscal Year 2014, IDHS contracted with 16 local CCR&R agencies, the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) and four quality discretionary grantees to implement the quality services described on the following pages.

Pathways to Excellence for Child Care Programs

Building Quality Rating and Improvement Systems

One of the significant ways states can assist child care providers with quality improvement is to develop a Quality Rating and Improvement System. IDHS has administered the Quality Counts Quality Rating System (QC-QRS) since 2007 in order to assist Illinois child care programs in providing quality care for children and their families. Illinois is in the process of transitioning from the QC-QRS and implementing the new, more comprehensive ExceleRate Illinois quality rating and improvement system.

The Quality Counts QRS sets standards, which providers can achieve depending on the type of care they offer. QRS certification recognizes a provider for meeting specific indicators of quality, such as, learning environment, program administration, staff qualifications and training. This voluntary program is available to license-exempt family child care providers, licensed family child care providers and licensed child care centers.

Illinois is currently implementing a more comprehensive, cross-sector quality rating and improvement system, ExceleRate IllinoisTM (ExceleRate). ExceleRate is designed to make continuous quality improvement an everyday priority among early learning providers, including licensed child care centers and family child care homes; Head Start and state Preschool for All (PFA) programs. The system establishes standards to help infants, toddlers and pre-school age children intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally. It recognizes early learning providers for their ongoing efforts to improve the quality of their care by awarding Circle of Quality designations:

  • Licensed Circle of Quality - a program meets state licensing standards of quality
  • Bronze Circle of Quality - a program's teachers and administrators have completed ExceleRate Illinois trainings, and have met staff qualifications
  • Silver Circle of Quality - a program meets, or goes beyond, quality standards
  • Gold Circle of Quality - a program meets, or goes beyond, the highest quality standards

In FY2014, ExceleRate was implemented for licensed child care centers, Head Start, and PFA programs. The child care centers that had received Quality Counts Star certification were provisionally placed in the Silver and Gold Circles of Quality. The data on page 15 is from the Quality Counts-Quality Rating System because the transitioning process continued into FY2015. ExceleRate data will be reported in the FY2015 Illinois Child Care Report. ExceleRate for licensed family child care homes will be implemented in FY2015.

QRS Training Tier Levels for License-Exempt Family Child Care Homes in FY2014

License-exempt Family Child Care Homes Number of CCAP Children Enrolled by Training Tier Level
Training Tier 1 291 534
Training Tier 2 120 243
Training Tier 3 199 441
Total 610 1,218

 *The number of non-CCAP children cared for by these providers is 492.  Total number of children cared for by QRS certified license-exempt family child care providers  is 1,710.


QUOTE: "Family is the rock on which solid education can and must be built."

~ Richard Riley

Star Levels for Licensed Providers in FY2014

Licensed Centers 

Number of CCAP

Children Enrolled in

Licensed Centers by

Star Level 

Licensed Family Child Care Homes 

Number of CCAP

Children Enrolled in

Licensed Family

Child Care Homes

Star Level 1 64 2,904 18 183
Star Level 2 281 12,359 41 303
Star Level 3 310 16,554 236 1,881
Star Level 4 9 571 8 38
Total 664 32,388 303 2,405

*The number of non-CCAP Children cared for by QRS Certified Licensed Child Care Centers is 29,126.  Total number of children cared for by QRS certified licensed Child Care Centers is 61,514.  The number of non-CCAP Children cared for by QRS certified Licensed Family Child Care Homes is 1,050.  Total number of children cared for by QRS certified licensed Family Child Care Centers is 3,455.

Quality Counts Child Care Grant Program

The Quality Counts Child Care (QCCC) Grant program is designed to support child care centers and family child care home providers in the improvement of quality for infants, toddlers, pre-school, and school-age children. Originally intended to support program improvements, the program now assists providers in achieving and maintaining the Illinois Quality Counts QRS certification or an ExceleRate Illinois Circle of Quality (see page 13). The program is available to any child care provider on the Illinois CCR&R provider database. Grant funds are used for materials, equipment, minor facility improvements, and on-site training and consultation.

In Fiscal Year 2014, providers selected a grant option when they applied for the QCCC Grant:

  • Training Option: Provides training on program quality improvements in a cohort model, including guidance using program assessment tools. Using assessment results, grant funding can be requested to purchase items needed.
  • Competitive Option: Licensed providers can apply for funds through a competitive process. The applicant must show documentation that a program improvement assessment or accreditation process has been completed and used to inform the grant application.

FY2014 QCCC Grant Reasons

Providers indicate the following as reasons for requesting grant funds.

# Awarded
Maintain IDCFS Licensing Standards 486
Achieve a national accreditation 77
Maintain a national accreditation 98
Achieve a QRS Certificationl/ExceleRate Circle of Quality 222
Maintain a QRS Certification/ExceleRate Circle of Quality 231
Advance to the next QRS Certification/ExceleRate Circle of Quality 168

QUOTE: "The best part of learning is sharing what you know." ~ Vaughn K. Lauer, PhD

Pathways to Excellence for Child Care Providers

Building Strong Professional Development and Supportive Workforce Initiatives

Responsive, well-qualified practitioners are one of the most important factors in child care settings. Children of working parents spend many hours each day with their child care provider. IDHS provides a wide variety of professional development opportunities to child care providers. These services are available to child care providers listed on the statewide database, including licensed and license-exempt practitioners. The following pages give some data on these programs.

Illinois Trainers Network

The Illinois Trainers Network (ITN) provides standardized training to individual child care practitioners on topics such as program assessment, inclusion and developmentally appropriate infant toddler care. ITN trainers coordinate with the CCR&Rs to deliver training to child care practitioners statewide.

FY2012  FY2013 FY2014
Number of ITN Curricula offered in FY 12 15 19
Total # of times ITN curricula were offered  398 425 923
Total number of training sessions held* 1,282 1,391 1,988
Number of Participants 18,278 19,906 31,377
Number of training hours achieved 69,068 73,554 115,571

*Some of the ITN curricula are multi-session trainings

CCR&R Offered Training

In addition to the standardized ITN curricula, CCR&Rs offer training to child care practitioners on a variety of topics and in a variety of methods, including stand alone workshops, workshop series, self-study materials and webinars. Frequently requested topics include child assessment, health and safety, guidance and discipline, and developmentally appropriate practice.

FY2012 FY2013 FY2014
Number of training sessions held  2,489 2,410 2,088
Number of training participants 43,738 40,236 35,838
Number of training hours achieved 111,111  101,975  92,746

Gateways to Opportunity Professional Development System

The Gateways to Opportunity Professional Development System provides supports for professionals working with children, youth and families. These supports include Credentials; the Gateways Scholarship Program; the Great START Wage Supplement program; Professional Development Advisors; and the Gateways to Opportunity Registry.

Great START (Strategy to Attract and Retain Teachers)

Great START is a wage supplement program available to the lowest wage earners employed by licensed child care centers and family child care homes; it recognizes those who have achieved an educational level higher than is required by DCFS Licensing Standards and recipients must remain employed by the same program.

FY2012 FY2013 FY2014
New Recipients 0* 258 421
Renewing Recipients 3,954  4,020  4,169
Total 3,954  4,278 4,590

QUOTE: "Research shows that teachers with college degrees and specialized early childhood training have more positive interactions with children and provide richer language experiences."

~ W. Stephen Barnett, PhD

Gateways to Opportunity Credentials

The Gateways Credentials validate an individual's educational attainment and professional experience.

The credentials are recognized by the State of Illinois in the DCFS Licensing Standards for Day Care Centers and

the IDHS Great START Program. A variety of credentials are available for practitioners who work with, or on behalf

of, children, youth and families.

The first Illinois Director Credentials were awarded in FY2000, since then, additional Gateways Credentials were developed and are awarded on a continuous basis.

Credential First Awarded in  FY2012 FY2013 FY2014 Total Awarded*
ECE Credential - Level 1 FY 2006  446 387 1,155 2,976
ECE Credential - Levels 2-5 FY 2008   132  111 518 941
Infant Toddler Credential FY 2009  83 97 345 656
Illinois Director Credential FY 2000  88  46 126 704
SAYD Credential Level 1 FY 2011  0**  14 115 159
TOTAL  749  655  2,259a  5,436

*Includes credentials awarded prior to FY2012.

**The curriculum for the SAYD Credential Level 1 was revised and the Train the Trainer session was held during FY2012.

*** Increase in credential attainment in FY2014 can be attributed to the availability of Race to the Top/Early Learning Challenge funds.

Gateways to Opportunity Scholarship Program

The Gateways Scholarship Program (CCDF-funded) is available to individuals employed by licensed child care centers and family child care homes. FY2013 data included scholarships funded by the IDHS/ARRA grant. The scholarships enable practitioners to earn degrees, certificates or credentials in early care and education and school age child care.

FY2012 FY2013 FY2014
Family Child Care Practitioners 214 200 165
Child Care Center Staff 652 734  675
Credits Taken 6,567  6,904  6,894
Degrees Completed 37 35 36

Gateways to Opportunity Registry

The Gateways to Opportunity Registry is a resource and a tool to drive the quality and accountability of the professional development available to early learning, school-age, and youth practitioners. Anyone who works with or on behalf of children, youth and families in Illinois can become a member of the Gateways Registry. The Gateways Registry is administered by INCCRRA. As of June 30, 2014, the Registry membership was 68,623, an increase of 23,820 members. The growth was facilitated by child care licensing standards requiring registry membership for all licensed family child care providers and the staff of all licensed child care centers. Below is some information about the current jobs of the child care workforce.

TYPE OF PROGRAM & POSITION (Where are Registry members working?)

  • Based on valid employment data for 50,109 current Registry members
  • 4% work in Indirect Service, such as child care resource and referral, higher education, etc.
  • 96% work in Direct Service
     o 78% work in Licensed Child Care Centers
     o 19% work in Family/Group Child Care Homes
     o 3% work in License-exempt child care settings

For more detailed information about any of the programs contained in this report, visit:

This publication is created to comply with State Statute 20 ILCS 505/5.15.

Programs, activities and employment opportunities in the Illinois Department of Human Services are open and accessible to any individual or group without regard to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion. The Department is an equal opportunity employer and practices affirmative action and reasonable accommodation programs.

DHS 4184 (N-02-15) Illinois Child Care Report - FY2014 Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois. 200 copies P.O.#15-0325 $1.44 per copy