FAQ: How Do I Start a Child Care Center in Illinois?
child care center offers opportunities to operate a business that can
positively affect the lives of children and their families in your community.
But before you start caring for young children, there are many things to
consider. The following sections provide resources to help with planning your
center. Factors to consider include regulations that govern child care
licensing and standards in Illinois; strategies for working with parents;
funding; location, equipment, and materials; and curriculum.
What resources are available to
help me get started?
- The Illinois
Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) is an
organization of regional Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R)
agencies throughout the state of Illinois. INCCRA publishes Illinois Child
Care: Developing Center-Based Programs, a publication with information on starting a child care
center that you can download from their Web site or that you can request by
mail. INCCRRA can also provide you with information
about the rates currently charged by providers in your community and link you
with training opportunities and other resources. Once your center is
established, your local CCR&R will also let families know about your
- Illinois Child Care: Developing Center-Based Programs is produced by INCCRRA in cooperation
with other agencies and is funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services.
It details 12 steps involved in starting a center, from evaluating your local
child care market to recruiting initial clientele.
- The Business
of Early Care and Education in Illinois: Providers' Tools for Improving Quality, a publication from the McCormick Tribune
Foundation, provides information for providers to help them enhance the quality
of their programs. Topics covered include accreditation; curriculum, assessment,
and working with families of children with special needs; family support and
parental involvement; funding; Illinois policy and advocacy organizations; and
- The Illinois
Early Learning (IEL) Project Web site is a source of evidence-based, reliable
information on early care and education for parents, caregivers, and teachers
of young children in Illinois. In addition to responses to "Frequently Asked
Questions," such as this one, the Web site offers printable tip sheets for
caregivers and parents, a customized question-answering service, a statewide
calendar of events for parents and caregivers, an easy-to-use database of links
to "the best of the Web" on topics related to early care and
education, and periodic "Ask an Expert" events.
- The National
Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is the nation's largest
organization of early childhood professionals and others dedicated to improving
the quality of early childhood programs for children. NAEYC offers many
resources through its Web site and has an accreditation program to recognize
high-quality center-based programs.
What are the legal standards and
requirements for a child care center in our state?
- Child care centers in Illinois must be licensed by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The DCFS Web site provides links to licensing and additional helpful information for child care providers in both English and Spanish.
- Contact information for local DCFS agencies is also available on the DCFS Web site. The local agency can help guide those planning a child care center through the process in addition to providing licensing information.
- The licensing standards for child care centers in Illinois are also available on the DCFS Web site. Included in the standards is information on licenses and permits, administration, staffing, program requirements, structure and safety, health and hygiene, and facilities and equipment.
National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care (NRCHSCC) provides
both Web and print versions of their publication Caring for Our Children:
National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines for Out-of-Home
Child Care Programs: Second Edition. Their Web site also links to
information on specific health and safety issues, as well as state licensing
and regulations resources. NRCHSCC publications can be ordered online, by mail,
- Stepping Stones to Caring for Our Children, 3rd
the text of the NRCHSCC standards that have the greatest impact on disease,
disability, and death (morbidity and mortality) in out-of-home child care. This
publication can be downloaded at no cost or ordered in printform.
What are the requirements in licensing and professional
standards for staff?
- Illinois regulations establish minimum qualifications for
center staff and other requirements to insure that children are properly
supervised. There are more specific education requirements for child care
center directors, early childhood teachers, and personnel in school-age
programs. Group size and the ratio of child care staff to children present at
any one time vary by the ages of the children.
- The Gateways to Opportunity Web site explains the many
career options available in early care and education in Illinois. The Gateways' Career Lattice provides information on the specific training and education
needed to take advantage of the many early care and education career
- For those providers who need help
in establishing professional goals, need financial support to pay for
additional education, or need information to find training and coursework to
qualify for a particular position, Professional Development Advisors are
available throughout the state at no cost.
- The Council for Professional Recognition (CPR) operates the
national Child Development Associate program. A Child Development Associate
(CDA) is an individual who has successfully completed a CDA assessment and has
been awarded the CDA Credential. In Illinois, a director of a child care center
is required to have a CDA Credential plus additional education and experience.
The National Directory of Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Institutions,
available on the CPR Web site, contains a listing of colleges and universities
in each state that provide early childhood education.
I need to know to work well with parents?
with Parents in the Early Yearsexamines what we
know about disseminating child-rearing and education-related information to
parents and identifies what else we need to know about the information-sharing
process in order to help parents get their young children ready for school.
with Parents, an
online digest adapted from Connecting with Parents in the Early Years,
calls communication an intrinsic part of the relationships between parents of
young children and the staff of programs that serve them.
Illinois Early Learning (IEL) Project offers easy-to-print tip sheets that
providers of early care and education can share with parents.
What funding resources are available?
How are fees for child care set?
Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) conducts a biennial Market Rate
Survey of Licensed Child Care Programs in Illinois. This resource provides
information on the market rates that providers are charging families for child
care. The most recently published survey, December 2006, can be found on the
DHS Web site.
DHS also published the 2010 Illinois
Child Care Report.
For additional information, contact the Illinois Bureau of Child Care and Development at
DHS or other state organizations will offer grants or loans for start-up or
enhancement purposes to persons wanting to become a licensed child care
provider. The following office may advise you of available grants or
- Illinois Facilities Fund
(statewide, nonprofit organization that provides credit and technical
assistance to community-based human service providers)
100 N. LaSalle St.
Chicago, IL 60602
- Your local
CCR&R, which is part of the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource &
Referral Agencies (INCCRRA), can provide funding for professional development
and staff compensation through the Great Start and TEACH wage supplement programs.
Quality Counts funds are also available through your CCR&R for new (and
ongoing) programs to help pay for equipment, curriculum materials, and other
facility needs. Reimbursement is available for programs that care for
low-income children in Illinois whose parents are approved for subsidy. Other
grants for professional development are also available. CCR&Rs can also
provide data on rates charged for care in your area. You can find your local
CCR&R by going to this page on the INCCRRA Web site or by calling INCCRRA at 800-649-1884.
- The National
AfterSchool Association (NAA) is a membership association of school-age child
care professionals with 35 state affiliates. NAA can help you find an affiliate
group in your area that may be able to offer additional information about local
funding resources and support for your project.
should I consider in planning the facility, equipment, and materials?
- The National Clearinghouse for Educational
Facilities Web site contains a list of links, books, and journal articles
providing resources on design guidelines, quality indicators, and safety requirements
for early childhood facilities.
- A University of Missouri article "Protecting Children from Unintentional Injuries" addresses potential
hazards in children's surroundings. This article may be helpful in considering
the types of equipment and materials to offer in your child care center.
can I find curriculum resources?
The Early Childhood Block Grant Request for Proposals (RFP)
on the Illinois State Board of Education Web site provides examples of
evidence-based curricula, including the following:
- Creative Curriculum . Diane Trister Dodge's Creative Curriculum Web site provides
detailed information about the curriculum's use in early childhood education
settings (birth through grade 3). The Creative Curriculum strives to provide a
comprehensive yet easy-to-use framework for planning and implementing a
developmentally appropriate curriculum for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and
children in the primary grades.
Educational Approach. The
research-based High/Scope educational approach is a comprehensive system of
child instruction, staff development, and accountability assessment. This
approach can be aligned with state and local standards for implementing program
content and assessing program quality and child outcomes.
Street Approach. Many of the underlying
principles that inform the Bank Street approach have their origins in the
progressive movement of the early 20th century and specifically in the work of
John Dewey and in the formulations of Barbara Biber and Edna Shapiro of Bank
Street's "developmental interaction" approach to learning.
- Project Approach. The
Project Approach is a teaching strategy that enables teachers to guide children
through in-depth studies of real-world topics. Project work may be incorporated
into a curriculum but is not intended to constitute the entire curriculum.
Teachers can use the Project Approach to meet most of the Illinois Early
Learning Benchmarks. Resources on the Project Approach are now available on the Illinois Projects in Practice (IllinoisPIP) Web site, which is designed and maintained by the Illinois Early Learning Project.
The opinions, resources, and referrals provided on the IEL Web site are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to take the place of medical or legal advice, or of other appropriate services. We encourage you to seek direct local assistance from a qualified professional if necessary before taking action.
The content of the IEL Web site does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education; nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education.