Building Cohesive Funding & Governance Systems


The ECTT connected learning, program and workforce standards to infrastructure, funding, and governance systems—across funding streams—to build equitable and effective ECEC systems at the state and local level and work with agency and program staff to inform the design of data systems to drive policy and build-in accountability metrics around equity and adequacy.

Birth to Five

The top and most concrete charge to the ECTT, upon its formation by the Governor in June 2020, was to implement a regional statewide infrastructure of early childhood councils.

To do this, The ECTT worked to establish the Birth to Five statewide team, as a project of the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA), which has served as the ‘backbone organization’ as the Birth to Five team launched its work to establish 39 regional Birth to Five Action and Family Councils across the State.

Engaging Community

Each Birth to Five Action Council is the same in make-up and structure, while still allowing for the unique and diverse realities across all 39 regions.

The representation on each Action Council is the same, including parents, businesses, local elected officials, schools, child care providers, early intervention, and home visiting programs, all of which will have a seat on the Council.

Public dollars support staffing for each regional Council, and their first charge will be to establish the Councils in their region.

Family Councils are comprised of a diverse group of parents and family members caring for a child under the age of 8 who are passionate about creating more opportunities for young children and families in their region. Priority populations are prioritized in the formation of these Councils.

Family Council members:

  • Share about needs of families and ideas to improve services
  • Give feedback to the Action Council in the region
  • Advocate for family needs with local and state officials

Data is central to the work of the regional councils. The Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM) serves the Councils to ensure the work they do will inform priorities, help regions understand their unmet need (or surplus) of high-quality ECEC programs, and help each region translate data into advocating for increased investments by the State to address the disparities.

The Role of the ECTT

The ECTT supported the establishment of Birth to Five in the following ways:

  • Informed the establishment of the Birth to Five team and Councils to ensure they align with the State’s ECEC priorities, as outlined in the Funding Commission recommendations, through the Illinois Early Learning Council and in lock-step with the state agencies overseeing ECEC publicly funded programs statewide
  • Helped to establish priorities for the Birth to Five Action Councils that move the State’s priorities for ECEC forward and worked with the Birth to Five team to develop strategies and supports to ensure regional voice is prioritized in Councils
  • Helped to develop a strategy to leverage the already 80+ local collaboratives across the State focused on early childhood education—to inform, support, and in all cases, participate in regional Councils as they are established, and to ensure local voice

Establishing a New Division of Early Childhood at IDHS

In the K-12 education system in Illinois, it is one agency’s responsibility to ensure all children receive care in their school district. The 0-5 ECEC system has had no such centralization or singular agency that is responsible. Consequently, there has been uneven and inequitable access to the care that children need and deserve, that works for parents, and provides the school readiness and social/emotional support young children need to thrive. The ECTT outlined that it is not only alignment, but coherence and leadership that are needed in the Illinois ECEC system to truly achieve our goal of high quality, equity, and accessibility care that is affordable for all.

Under one ECEC agency, Illinois has:

  • One set of standards and one system of accountability linked to one funding system
  • Unified policy leadership and systemwide data
  • A unified process for community engagement
  • Unified professional standards and workforce development
  • Unified quality improvement strategies
  • One single authority for providers
  • One locus of collaboration for affiliated programs