08.01.01 - Great Start

Effective Date: 06/23/01

Revised 01/01/13, 07/01/19

Reference: 89 Ill. Adm. Code, Chapter IV, §50.510; §50.520; §50.530; §50.540; §50.550; §50.560; §50.570; and §50.580

Policy Statement:

  1. Subject to a specific appropriation and for as long as funds are available, the Department, through its designated agents, shall administer the Great START (Strategy To Attract and Retain Teachers) Program.
  2. The Great START Program shall provide wage supplements to licensed day care center, day care home and group day care home (child care facility) personnel defined as:
    1. persons employed by a licensed day care center, including early childhood teachers, school age workers, early childhood assistants, school age assistants, and directors, as such positions are defined by the Department of Children and Family Services at 89 Ill. Adm. Code 407; and
    2. persons operating or employed by a licensed day care home or group day care home, including care givers and assistants, as such positions are defined by the Department of Children and Family Services at 89 Ill. Adm. Code 406 and Part 408.

Program Overview:

The goal of the Great START (Strategy to Attract and Retain Teachers) program is to improve children's developmental and educational outcomes by encouraging increased professional preparation and retention of child care personnel in IDCFS licensed centers and homes. A child's positive development in child care is dependent upon consistent interaction between the child and his/her care giver and the level of a child care professional's formal academic preparation.

Program Specifics:

  • Great START rewards child care professionals by supplementing their income based on education they have already attained above IDCFS licensing standards.
  • Great START wage supplements are paid directly to the individual on a six-month schedule based on his/her continued employment at the same center/program.
  • Great START helps an agency retain employees, therefore increasing quality and consistent care to the children, without raising parent fees. (Great START funding comes from the Illinois Department of Human Services.)
  • The employee must be employed in an IDCFS licensed child care home or center and work in Illinois.

Application Information

For questions about the Great START program or to request that application materials be sent by mail, please call toll free (866) MY-START or requests may be made in writing to:

Attn: Great START
1226 Towanda Plaza
Bloomington, IL 61701
FAX: (309) 828-1808

E-mail: inccrra@inccrra.org

To apply for a Great START Wage Supplement, an application and required documentation must be submitted to INCCRRA.

Please note that applicants must use postal mail to submit an application and all documentation. E-mailed or faxed applications will not be accepted.

Applications will be processed in the order they are received. After each monthly allocation of funding is obligated, all applicants will be rolled over to the following month. Eligible applicants that do not receive a wage supplement because funds are not available at the moment of application/approval will be placed on a waiting list.