Professional Development

Professional Development is important for child care providers. This helps you continue to improve the care you give the children, and is often required for accreditation.

Individual Professional Development Funds

Based on available funding, West Central Child Care Connection is offering funds to assist individual pursuit of professional development in early care education and school-age care. Funds are provided by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).

What can funds be requested for?

  • Individual registration fees associated with conferences/workshops not required by ExceleRate Illinois.
  • The conference/workshop must be off-site from your place of employment and must be related to early care and education, school-age care or child care administration/management.
  • Fee associated with webinars/online training that is Illinois Gateways to Opportunity Registry-approved.
  • Travel/transportation cost.
  • Lodging cost.
  • Costs associated with the following credentials: Child Development Associate (CDA) Certified Child Care Professional (CCP) and Gateways Credentials (IDC, ECE, ITC, SA, FCC, FSC)

You can view more information and download an application by clicking here:

                                        IPDF FY24 APP

To download the required W-9 form, click here:   W-9


First Aid/CPR Reimbursement Program

In partnership with West Central Child Care Connection, the Illinois Department of Human Services is providing funds to assist child care practitioners to achieve First Aid (FA)/Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification.

Funds are available for:

  • FA/CPR training that occurs between July 1, 2023 – June 1, 2024.
  • Individual costs associated with Pediatric FA/CPR (registration fee, student workbook, certification card).  For school age providers, FA/CPR should be specific to the age served.
  • Center staff on-site FA/CPR that is arranged by a child care program (registration fee, student workbook, certification card).
  • Initial or renewal certification.

FA/CPR curriculum must be from one of the following approved entities:

                · American Heart Association                    · American Safety & Health Institute(ASHI)
                · American Red Cross                            · American Trauma Event Management (ATEM)
                · Emergency Care and Safety Institute (ECSI)    · Edward Atkinson/Emergency Response Health Network
                · Ellis & Associates, Inc.-Orlando, FL          · EMS Safety Services
                · MEDIC FIRST AID                               · National Safety Council
                · Pro-Trainings, LLC                            · Titan CPR Associates
                . Know CPR                                      . Pacific Medical Training


You can view more information and download an application by clicking here:

FY24 FA-CPR -Application

To download the required W-9 form, click here:   W-9

Gateways to Opportunity Scholarship Program

The Gateways To Opportunity Scholarship Program has replaced the program previously known as T.E.A.C.H. This program is an individual-based scholarship opportunity for practitioners working in the field of Early Care and Education. Practitioners working in Illinois Department of Children and Family Services licensed centers and homes can apply for a Gateways Scholarship. The Gateways Scholarship Program will pay a percentage of the cost of tuition, fees and books based on an eligible participant’s child care position income.

How can a Scholarship benefit me?

  • Financial scholarship makes education possible.
  • Gain a higher level of education and compensation.

To obtain more information about the Gateways To Opportunity Scholarship Program or to receive an application, please access the Gateways website, or call toll free, (866) 697-8278.


Great START (Strategies to Attract and Retain Teachers) is a wage supplement program that pays eligible early care and education practitioners a monetary amount for attaining steps along the early care and education career lattice (wage supplement scale). Supplements are paid semi-annually for those practitioners who remain dedicated to the field by being committed to their child care center or home.

To be eligible for a Great START wage supplement, an individual must:

  • Be employed in licensed, full-day, full-year child care program, including family child care providers and assistants, center directors, teachers and teacher assistants;
  • Have completed college coursework in early childhood education, credentials or degrees as outlined on the Great START wage supplement scale; and
  • Work year round, at least 15 hours per week for at least 12 consecutive months.

How can I receive a wage supplement payment?

  • Submit a completed application, along with official college transcripts, pay stubs and documentation of work experience.
  • Applicants will be reviewed and eligibility determined.
  • Approved applicants will be paid every six months, with commitment to field.
  • The wage supplement payment will increase as the educational level increases.

How can a Great START wage supplement benefit me?

  • Monetary wage supplement every 6 months.
  • Recognition through local CCR&R events for education and retention.
  • Improve program quality.

To obtain more information about the Great START program or receive an application, please access the Gateways website or call toll free, (866) 697-8278.