Quality Improvement Grant Opportunities

Quality Improvement Funds

Illinois is committed to assisting early care and education professionals in providing quality education and care for young children, birth to 12 years old. Quality Improvement Funds are available to support continued quality improvement for child care programs. These funds are designed to assist child care programs in improving program quality and achieve or advance an ExceleRate™ Illinois Circle of Quality. Funds are provided by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the application is available here:  

Quality Improvement Funds Application for July 1, 2023-June 30, 2024

The Quality Improvements Funds are divided into the three following areas:

ExceleRate™ Illinois Cohorts        

Cohort groups, led by CCR&R staff, are offered for programs working towards or maintaining an ExceleRate™ Illinois Circle of Quality. The program administrator responsible for the on-site day to day operations of the child care program is required to attend the cohort. Upon completion of the cohort requirements and the program's self-assessment, programs may request funds to help achieve Continuous Quality Improvement Plan (CQIP) objectives. 

Training Stipend

Licensed child care programs working towards or maintaining an ExceleRate™ Illinois Circle of Quality may apply for a training stipend. The stipend is available for the ExceleRate™ Illinois Circle of Quality required training.

Child playing outside

Accreditation Assistance

Accreditation is a voluntary process that provides child care programs the opportunity to examine their services based on recognized standards of high quality. The Accreditation Assistance option is for child care programs that are applying for or maintaining an ExceleRate™ Illinois Silver or Gold Circle of Quality.

Individual Professional Development Funds (IPDF)

IPDF grants are for individuals. Directors, owners and administrators can have employees apply individually and send applications in to the CCR&R together. Individual child care practitioners working to continue their own professional development in early care and education may apply for the Individual Professional Development Funds. Funds can assist in covering costs related to registration, travel, and lodging fees associated with conferences or workshops not required by ExceleRate™ Illinois.  Registration for webinars or online training that is Gateways to Opportunity® Registry-approved is also eligible. Individual Professional Development Funds are available to individuals wanting to obtain a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, Certified Child Care Professional (CCP) Credential or Gateway to Opportunity® Credential. Funds are provided by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).  More information and the application packet can be found here.

Individual Professional Development Funds Application for July 1, 2023-June 30, 2024

Opportunities to Earn Early Childhood Education Credentials and Degrees

Are you interested in going to college and earning a credential or degree in early childhood? Many supports are available, and higher education navigators can help you access them. If you are currently working – or previously worked - in child care, preschool, Head Start or family child care in Illinois, opportunities are available to go to school with the supports you need to help you be successful.

Financial assistance is available for eligible teachers, assistants, directors and others to cover all tuition and fees and for other potential expenses, such as books, transportation, and child care at many of Illinois’ colleges and universities.  

Illinois higher education institutions are redesigning to make it easier for you, the early childhood workforce, to enroll in programs created for you, through classes that are available when and in the format that works best for you. They are also hiring mentors to help you enroll in programs and be successful.

If you would like to be connected to a Higher Education Navigator who can walk you through the available opportunities, please complete this survey and return to SAL Child Care Connection, Attn: Higher Education Navigator or you may email it to higherednavigator@salccc.org


CPR First Aid Reimbursement

In partnership with SAL Child Care Connection, the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Early Childhood (IDHS-DEC) is providing funds to assist child care practitioners to achieve First Aid (FA)/Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification.  Below are the guidelines and application, please read carefully. 

First Aid/CPR Funds Reimbursement Program


For more information on Professional Development and Training, please contact the Training Department at (800) 421-4371 or contact us.