Provider Newsletter | September 21, 2023

Announcing New Birth to Five Illinois Grants

Birth to Five Illinois is excited to announce a $600,000 funding opportunity to support existing Local Early Childhood (EC) Collaborations and for the establishment of new EC Collaborations in areas of the State that do not have them. Through these grants, Birth to Five Illinois hopes to encourage a systems-level approach to improving ECEC and increasing enrollment in ECEC programs and services. 

Grant Details

  • Anticipated grant amounts of $50,000 – $80,000 per recipient.
  • Applicants must use these grant funds toward strategies to increase enrollment in ECEC programs and services.
  • Funds may be used to support existing Local EC Collaborations or to establish new Local EC Collaborations.
  • Application through a fiscal agent is permissible. The fiscal agent would accept the grant funds and be responsible for reporting on expenses.
  • The grant cycle is November 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024.
  • The deadline for submission is 11:00pm on October 27, 2023.

Please direct all questions to Visit our Grants page for more information on eligibility, requirements, allowable expenses, and for a link to the application. Learn more  and apply at: Grantees — Birth to Five Illinois.


One of the Industrial Design graduate students here at the University of Illinois is currently conducting research on the challenges parents encounter when raising their children and has prepared a survey to identify these challenges. The goal of the survey is to brainstorm potential product development and service solutions. He is reaching out to parents who are willing to share their experiences that are relevant to this goal. Participation is not limited to relatively new parents as those with older children can provide valuable insights as well. Foster parents are encouraged to participate as well. All input will be immensely valuable to the success of this project. Please follow this link to the survey:


The Employment Barrier Reduction Program through Champaign County Regional Planning Commission’s Assistance for People Receiving SNAP, TANF, Medicaid who are employed or seeking employment is now offering assistance with transportation costs.

More details about eligibility and how to apply available at: Transportation Assistance – Champaign County Regional Planning Commission ( 

Maximum Benefit per Individual/Household: $1,400

Transportation Assistance Options:

  • Public Transportation/Annual Bus Pass ($300 maximum) o 
  • Auto Repair ($1,400 maximum) 
  • Requires proof of ownership, insurance and drivers’ license □ 
  • Requires 2 estimates

If approved, this program will assist with minor repairs to the vehicle (must be registered to the applicant) to return the vehicle to operable condition.  Examples include things such as: tires, brakes, water pump, battery, timing belt, chains, and lights.


The Individual Professional Development Funds (IPDF) are designed to support professional development in early care and education.

· Based on available funding, individual practitioners currently employed by center-based programs or family home programs (licensed or license exempt) that provide care as defined by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) may apply for these funds.

· Covers the cost of individual registration fees associated with conferences/workshops not required by ExceleRate Illinois and fees associated with webinars/online training that is Illinois Gateways to Opportunity Registry-approved.

· Covers costs associated with the following credentials:

o Child Development Associate (CDA)

o Certified Child Care Professional (CCP)

Upon approval, payment will be made as a reimbursement up to 80% of associated costs with an annual (July 1 – June 30) limit of $500 per person.

The application can be found at: Quality Improvement Funds ( 

The Vendor Information Form can be found at: Vendor-Information-Form-Paper-2022.pdf (


Did you know you could be reimbursed for First Aid/CPR certification costs?

In partnership with CCRS, the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Early Childhood is providing funds to assist child care providers to achieve First Aid/CPR certification.

Application process: 

Submit a completed application along with the required supporting documentation:

  •  Proof of Gateways Registry Membership;
  • Completed Vendor Information Form; 
  • Proof of enrollment for payment to be made directly to the trainer/entity OR Receipt/proof of payment if requesting reimbursement. 
  • For Center Group Training – an attendance sheet for those attending/completing the course including the Gateways to Opportunity Registry Membership ID.


Early care and education providers and family members are adults who notice when the children in their care may have disabilities or developmental delays and would benefit from special education services. Our Special Education Assessment – Illinois Early Learning Project tip sheet series is a very helpful tool for learning more about the steps in that process. It is accompanied by our Assessment for Special Education | Illinois Early Learning Project.


Earlier this year, Governor Pritzker announced his plan (available at Gov. Pritzker’s Smart Start Illinois Tour Continues with Visits to Peoria and Macomb)  for Smart Start Child Care Workforce Compensation Contracts.  

  • These contracts will launch in October 2024.   
  • They build on the Smart Start Transition Grants – Gateways to Opportunity ( 
  • They will provide stable, ongoing funding to qualifying child care providers to compensate their staff.   

IDHS is conducting a series of provider focus groups from September 18-25 to inform the structure and amounts of these contracts. Participating child care providers will be asked for their input on:

  • Current wages and other costs faced by providers
  • How to ensure that recipients use funding to increase compensation, without making reporting requirements unnecessarily difficult
  • What kind of training and support providers will need to access the workforce compensation contracts

Focus groups will be offered during the day, in the evening, and in Spanish to meet providers’ needs. All focus groups will be virtual. See the full schedule and sign up here! Smart Start Transition Grants – Gateways to Opportunity ( 


A principios de este año, el Gobernador Pritzker anunció su plan para los Contratos de Compensación de la Fuerza Laboral de Cuidado Infantil Smart Start.

IDHS está llevando a cabo una serie de grupos de enfoque con proveedores desde el 18 hasta el 25 de septiembre para informar sobre la estructura y los montos de estos contratos. A los proveedores de cuidado infantil que participen se les pedirá su opinión sobre:

  • Los salarios actuales y otros costos a los que se enfrentan los proveedores.
  • Cómo asegurar que los beneficiarios utilicen los fondos para aumentar la compensación, sin hacer que los requisitos de informe sean innecesariamente complicados.
  • Qué tipo de capacitación y apoyo necesitarán los proveedores para acceder a los contratos de compensación de la fuerza laboral.

Los grupos de enfoque se ofrecerán durante el día, por la tarde y en español para satisfacer las necesidades de los proveedores. Todos los grupos de enfoque serán virtuales. ¡Consulte el horario completo e inscríbase aquí! Focus Group Registration // Registro de Grupo de Enfoque (