Early Childhood Providers

The Department of Human Services contracts with Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies to perform the following services:

  • Provide parents with consumer education and referrals to child care in their communities;
  • Deliver training and assistance to providers in order to improve the quality of care offered;
  • Help develop new child care resources in communities where they are needed;
  • Assemble and maintain an accurate child care database to provide up-to-date information to parents; and
  • Record and analyze data on child care supply and demand to support community capacity building.
  • Great START - provides wage supplements to eligible practitioners working in licensed centers and homes.
  • Gateways to Opportunity Scholarship Program - is an individual-based scholarship opportunity for practitioners working in Early Care and Education (ECE) or school-age child care. Practitioners working in Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) licensed centers, homes, or school-age programs can apply for a Gateways Scholarship.

Quality Counts Quality Rating System (QRS) assists Illinois child care programs in providing quality care for children and their families. This voluntary system began in July 2007.  License-exempt Family Child Care Providers, Licensed Family Child Care Providers, and Licensed Centers are eligible to apply.

The System offers three progressive Training Tiers for License-Exempt Family Child Care providers and four Star Levels for Licensed providers. Specific training or quality criteria must be met to achieve a tier or level. Once a child care provider has met the required criteria for a tier/level, they are awarded a certificate. Providers caring for children eligible for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) receive a quality add-on rate to the CCAP standard daily reimbursement rate. License-exempt family child care providers will receive a 10%, 15%, or 20% CCAP quality add-on based on the training hours completed. Licensed providers are eligible for a CCAP quality add-on of 5%-20%.

Technical assistance, training and supports are offered to providers through their local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency. Before applying to QRS, every interested provider must attend a QRS Orientation in which they will learn the specifics of the System for each provider type. For additional information on Quality Counts QRS, please visit Quality Counts Quality Rating System (QRS) Overview at Illinois Quality Counts.

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