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Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5)


Illinois has been awarded a federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) by the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education. The State received funds to carry out proposed activities under the Initial PDG B-5 grant in 2019, and has also been awarded funds for the three year PDG B-5 Renewal grant, anticipated through December of 2022.

The PDG B-5 grant allows Illinois to develop and update an overarching statewide strategic plan, informed by a statewide needs assessment, which will guide systemic efforts to coordinate Illinois' mixed delivery system so all children and families have access to the services and supports they need to thrive. Illinois is also conducting activities to: maximize parent and family choice, knowledge, and engagement in Illinois' early childhood education and care (ECEC) system; share best practices and enhance professional development to support the ECEC workforce; improve quality and service integration and expand access to ECEC programs and services across the State; and monitor, evaluate, and improve data collection and use for continuous improvement.

The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), in partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) as our fiscal agent, will engage the State's leadership, partners, and stakeholders, including families, in these efforts to support Illinois’ vision: We envision Illinois as a place where every young child – regardless of race, ethnicity, income, language, geography, ability, immigration status, or other circumstance – receives the strongest possible start to life so they grow up safe, healthy, happy, ready to succeed, and eager to learn.

Statewide B-5 Needs Assessment

In conducting the initial Statewide B-5 Needs Assessment, completed in January of 2020, Illinois coordinated outreach to stakeholders, inventoried and analyzed existing statewide needs assessments, documented data and research gaps, developed a set of research plans, completed statewide cost modeling, and expanded the scope of our existing unduplicated count of children B-5 in ECEC programs.

Illinois is currently focusing on addressing the data gaps identified through the initial Needs Assessment, as well as conducting a Family Needs Study that aims to learn more about how children, parents, and families are engaged with Illinois’ Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) system, what their needs are, and how the ECEC system might better address those needs.

Statewide B-5 Strategic Plan

In developing the initial Statewide B-5 Strategic Plan, completed in February of 2020, Illinois built upon the existing framework of the Illinois Early Learning Council (ELC), inventoried and mined existing strategic plans for aligned goals, and conducted focused planning to align governance, expand coordinated intake, and increase access at the community level for children with special needs and children in the child welfare system.

Illinois is currently working to update its Statewide Strategic Plan: based on the findings from the periodic Needs Assessment; to ensure alignment with the Illinois Commission on Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding: Report of Findings and Recommendations and the Illinois Prenatal to Three Policy Agenda and the subsequent work of the PN3 Coalition; and to ensure a racial equity and social justice framework is utilized in the identification of the State's strategic priorities.

PDG B-5 Home Visiting-Child Welfare Project

Funded in part by the PDG B-5 grant, the Erikson Institute Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Early Childhood Project leads the work connecting 0-3 families receiving DCFS Intact Family Services to evidence-based home visiting programs, with the goal of improving outcomes for this priority population. The 2020 Annual Report: Home Visiting-Child Welfare Project includes an analysis of the data, identification of systems barriers, and recommendations, all which will be used to drive improvements in 2021 and beyond.

Maximizing Parental & Family Choice, Knowledge & Engagement

To increase the ability of parents and families to make informed decisions about their children’s care and education, Illinois formalized family representation on the Illinois Early Learning Council, is conducting Parent and Community Cafés across the State, increased supports for families of children with disabilities and experiencing homelessness, and updated public-facing websites to better respond to the needs of families.

Parent and Community Cafés

The goals of the Parent and Community Cafés are to emphasize the Strengthening Families Protective Factors: Parent Resilience, Positive Social Connections, Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, Concrete Support in Times of Need, Social/Emotional Competence, and Healthy Parent-Child Relationships. The Parent Café model utilizes parent-to-parent learning and promotes advocacy, leadership development, and increased understanding and utilization of early childhood education and care services. In 2019, in partnership with the Illinois Head Start Association (IHSA), 20 parent leaders from Chicago and Mount Greenwood were trained to hold two Cafés within each community. In 2020, in order to reach more families IHSA utilized a train-the-trainer model to coach 17 child care and community organizations to prepare 59 parent leaders who then conducted 64 Cafés across their communities for 586 parents. In 2021, Illinois is continuing the train-the-trainer Café model, increasing the resources, coaching supports, and reach to families.

Sharing Best Practices & Professional Development for the ECEC Workforce

Illinois continues to share best practices and support the professional development (PD) for the mixed delivery ECEC workforce via four approaches: a) improving the training and workplace experience of B-5 ECEC providers; b) credential alignment in the PD registry; c) aligning credentials to build an ECEC career ladder; and d) increasing the availability of qualified providers. These approaches will help to align credentials, certifications, and coursework across PD and higher education to support a cohesive career ladder and will increase the availability of qualified providers throughout the State, especially in rural and other hard-to-staff areas.

  • Quality Supports for Family, Friend and Neighbor Child Care Providers
    • The purpose of this pilot was to ensure family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) providers were equipped with the tools and resources they need to provide the best quality care for children and prepare them and their parents for school readiness. This report goes in depth on each phase of the process, providing insight into a variety of communities across the State and the challenges and benefits the project uncovered.
  • Cohort Pathways in Illinois: Innovative Models Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce
    • Institutions of higher education in Illinois have long implemented collaborative, innovative strategies to support credential and degree attainment. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the innovative work of Illinois institutions of higher education in creating cohort pathways that are responsive to the needs of the current and future early childhood workforce.
  • Early Childhood Education Credential Competency Project Report
    • This report lays out the process and outcomes of the early childhood teacher preparation competency-based education curriculum module development work at the state level for ECEC programs. The goal of the project is to create individual modules for each early childhood teacher preparation competency in order to increase access and provide additional avenues for the early childhood workforce to achieve credential(s) and degrees.
  • Education Reimbursement Initiative Data Analysis Report
    • Through GOECD and in partnership with INCCRRA, the Education Reimbursement Initiative is being implemented to address potential financial barriers for ECEC providers in advancing or completing educational goals at accredited Illinois institutions of higher education. While the initiative was successful in its ability to provide varying amounts of relief for recipients, this report includes recommendations for further supporting early childhood educators and addressing the higher education barriers that are needed for increased success in the future.
  • Illinois Pyramid Model Efforts to Support ECEC Programs: 2020 Evaluation Report
    • Illinois has promoted adoption of the Pyramid Model since 2017 through a continued collaboration with the Pyramid Model Consortium (PMC). There are currently 37 ECEC programs across ISBE, Head Start, and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) child care centers working toward Pyramid Model implementation. The 2020 Evaluation Report addresses Pyramid Model activities and progress across the State.
  • Illinois Home Visitor Credential Crosswalk Report
    • A panel of higher education faculty and other stakeholders found alignment between the Illinois home visitor core competencies and two existing credentials—the Home Visitor Child Development Associate (recognized by Head Start/Early Head Start) and the Gateways to Opportunity® Family Specialist Credential (which will be required by the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services). The report will be used to guide the State's ongoing work to equitably strengthen the home visiting workforce and to increase home visitor compensation.
  • A Descriptive Profile of Illinois' Home Visiting Workforce (2021)
    • INCCRRA, with the support of GOECD, updated the Gateways Registry for home visitors in order to gather a more comprehensive picture of Illinois' home visiting workforce. Enhancements were made to capture the evidence-based program model used by those reporting their role as home visitor. An outreach campaign took place from March through June 2021 to encourage all home visitors in Illinois to join the Gateways Registry or update their existing profile with this new information. The outcome is improved data on the home visiting roles and models, demographics, education and credentials, and employment in the home visiting workforce, as detailed in this report.

For more information on the Workforce Supports and Pathways currently funded by the PDG B-5, please click here. Additional information will be posted soon.

Improving Quality/Service Integration & Expanding Access

ExceleRate Illinois Tests "Funding First" Model to Support Quality Improvement

Thirty-six child care centers in Illinois’ rural counties have committed to testing new Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) practices as part of a planned revision in ExceleRate Illinois standards. IDHS is supporting the centers through a new method of quality improvement funding. All licensed child care centers in Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) Group 2 counties were invited to participate if at least 40% of their children participate in CCAP.

The centers are testing three innovations: (1) IDHS contracts pay up-front for the salary and staffing pattern enhancements needed to meet pilot ExceleRate standards. Funding is allocated per classroom, not per child. (2) Programs implement the pilot standards, including regular team meetings and Plan-Do-Review cycles for CQI. (3) Program assessment instruments, including the Environment Rating Scales (ERS), are used at the beginning of the process to help guide improvement planning. Results are never made public, and the scores are not used in determining a rating or Circle of Quality.

Assessors and leadership advisors from the McCormick Center are supporting the centers. The pilot is sponsored by GOECD and IDHS via PDG B-5 and state child care funds.

Additional information will be posted soon.

Monitoring, Evaluation & Data Use for Continuous Quality Improvement

Illinois is working to enhance its data integration, management, and data use through projects focused on infrastructural support to the Early Childhood Participation Dataset within the Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS 2.0), analysis to expand the unduplicated count of children receiving ECEC services, and infrastructural support to the Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM) to improve local data literacy. For more information on this data standardization and enhancement work, please see pages 36-46 in Illinois' PDG B-5 Renewal Proposal. Additional information will be posted soon.

PDG B-5 Bonus Activities

Coordinated Application, Eligibility & Enrollment - IRIS Implementation & Technical Assistance Illinois envisions a future in which there are coordinated points of entry throughout the State for home visiting as well as other ECEC services. GOECD is implementing the Integrated Intake and Referral System (IRIS) in four home visiting collaboratives to increase the number of coordinated intake communities throughout the State. IRIS is a web-based community referral system developed by the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research (KU-CPPR). It is a communication tool to support best practices in social service referral and coordination among community partners. Its primary purpose is to enable service providers in a community to make, receive, track, and respond to referrals. This work is done in partnership with the following collaboratives: Children's Home & Aid Child Care Resource & Referral Program in Madison and St. Clair counties, DuPage Home Visiting Network in DuPage county, Sangamon Success 0-3 Initiative in Sangamon county, and Sauk Valley STARS Early Childhood Education Coalition in Lee, Ogle, and Whiteside counties. In support of the communities of the implementation process, KU-CPPR continues to provide technical assistance to each of the communities as well as facilitate IRIS Learning Communities. The projected launch date of IRIS in the four communities is August 2021.

Infant/Toddler Emphasis - I/ECMHC Database, Orientation, and Reflective Learning Groups PDG B-5 investments supported development of a statewide Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant (I/ECMHC) Database. Illinois is currently working to enroll additional consultants into the database and define requirements and system design to allow for data capture on the impact of consultation. Additionally, Illinois continues to offer professional development to new consultants through the I/ECMHC Orientation, quarterly I/ECMHC meetings, and Reflective Learning Groups. These efforts will lead to the implementation of the Illinois I/ECMHC Model across ECEC programs and expansion of I/ECMHC, supporting the professionalization of the field and facilitating programs identification of consultants meeting the requirements of the Illinois model.

Collaborative Transition & Alignment from Birth to the Early Grades - Kindergarten Transition Illinois is implementing four kindergarten transition community partnership pilots designed to support local community context and decision-making that includes all stakeholders involved in the transition to kindergarten. The four community partnerships are with Austin Coming Together in the Austin community on the west side of Chicago, BPI in the Altgeld/Riverdale community on the south side of Chicago, United Way of Greater St. Louis in East St. Louis, and WADI Head Start in the Wabash Area. The partnership communities are charged to create a kindergarten transition model for their community that will support and enhance either parent knowledge, collaboration and partnerships, alignment across curriculum, services and supports, or professional development. These pilots will provide a model for the ways kindergarten transitions can be implemented within various community types.

Resources & Reports

Initial PDG B-5 Grant (2019) - Award Letters & Announcements

Initial PDG B-5 Grant (2019) - Quarterly Performance Progress Reports

PDG B-5 Renewal Grant (2020-2022) - Award Letters & Announcements

PDG B-5 Renewal Grant (2020-2022) - Quarterly Performance Progress Reports

Renewal Year 1 (2020)

Renewal Year 2 (2021)

Renewal Year 3 (2022)

These projects were made possible by grant number 90TP0057. Their contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.