The Early Childhood Transformation Team

Illinois Commission on Equitable ECEC Funding

Overview — The Current System

The work of the ECTT supported ECEC Funding Systems in Illinois to be “simpler, better and fairer,” ensuring families with children ages birth to five can equitably access the early education and care young learners need to succeed.

The primary areas of impact for the work of ECTT based on the Funding Commission Report included Access, Readiness, Funding, and Infrastructure & Governance. Through focusing in these areas, the ECTT worked with Illinois to:

  • Better support the developmental and cognitive development of young children
  • Better support the needs and preferences of parents and families
  • Better support agencies to design and implement equity and adequate ECEC programs, centering underserved children, disabled children, BIPOC children, and children in rural areas without access to opportunity

In order for policymakers to address Illinois’s inequities and insufficiencies in ECEC, the state needed an articulated funding goal, a long-term, unified, planning and policy infrastructure, and the development of an inextricably linked funding and accountability system.

Real Stories, Real People

Understanding the Current Early Childhood Education and Care Ecosystem in Illinois

Robin runs the large infant and toddler program in Southern Illinois, offering a range of services that require her to engage with multiple state agencies. These agencies can be slow with reimbursements, frequently causing Robin to experience cash flow problems and financial instability.



Maria is a Spanish-speaking Naperville mom who struggled to find information about preschool programs for her oldest son. A relative finally got her the answers she needed to enroll him in Head Start.



Kristin is a Chicago mother of five — two of her kids are not yet old enough for school and one had developmental delays that required extra services. She makes a little too much money to qualify for some programs but not enough to afford others, which makes it difficult to access the services her family needs.



Patricia runs a child care program in her own home in Southern Illinois. She feels isolated from other providers and worries about the low quality of programs that serve rural children. She's concerned that the problem is just going to get worse as the cycle of poor education continues.



Jaclyn is a Chicago-area family support specialist who works with children and parents in their homes, in part because their communities have no available slots in quality early childhood education programs.



Melissa is a south suburban mail carrier and the single mother of a child with cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The only child care provider she could find to watch her son while she works lives in Chicago, requiring a long commute back and forth each day. This makes it nearly impossible for her son to get the therapy he needs.