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Early Learning Council

The Early Learning Council, a public-private partnership created by Public Act 93-380, strengthens, coordinates and expands programs and services for children, birth to five, throughout Illinois. With a membership including senior state officials and non-government stakeholders appointed by the Governor, the Early Learning Council builds on current programs to ensure a comprehensive, statewide early learning system (preschool, child care, Head Start, health care and support programs for parents) to improve the lives of Illinois children and families.


The early childhood framework is based on the vision of every child entering kindergarten safe, healthy, ready to succeed and eager to learn. We celebrate diversity and partnering with community stakeholders who value a bright future for all young children in Illinois. We are committed to universal access for all children birth to age eight, to high quality programs and services, prioritizing children with high needs and families that are hard to reach. When Illinois' vision is realized, we will see all young children's needs being met, including early childhood education, physical and mental health, and family support.


At the highest level, a well-coordinated, accessible, easy to navigate early childhood system will include the components listed below. All of these components need to have specific progress benchmarks and outcomes for 2015.

Early Childhood Learning System Components

  • Ongoing preventive health care -- including well-child care, screenings, immunizations, and periodic developmental screening to determine if children may be exhibiting developmental delays that warrant intervention services.
  • High quality early education programs and services for children from birth to eight with continuous improvement under ExceleRate Illinois , and with
  • Standards, instruction, assessment, and supports aligned as students/families transition from infant toddler programs to other programs along the early childhood continuum.
  • A well-educated, trained and compensated workforce.
  • Diverse, integrated, maximized funding streams and delivery systems set at sustainable levels.
  • Earlier (before preschool) and increased participation of children and families with high needs, including those who are , English Language Learners (spell out), homeless or have disabilities.
  • Engaged parents with access to many information channels to help parents identify high quality providers and know how to support their children's learning at home.
  • Community-level systems coordination and development.
  • Public awareness of and policymakers' understanding and support of the benefits of high quality early childhood programs and the Early Learning Council.
  • Data integration and availability to inform policies, practices, instruction, services, and evaluation.
  • Evaluation and assessment to provide information on improved program quality and improved child outcomes.
  • Ongoing monitoring of the ELC's vision and plan.

Guiding Principles

We are committed to:

  • serving the children and families with the highest needs first and providing them access to the highest quality services.
  • ensuring that resources are sufficiently allocated to provide high quality services forevery age from birth to five.
  • all children entering school are healthy and ready to learn.
  • a holistic approach to family and children's needs.
  • ensuring that family engagement and partnership is integrated and embedded in allearly childhood programs and services.
  • striving for an early childhood system that is transparent, easily navigated and accessedby the families it is intended to serve.
  • ensuring that all children have well-educated and well compensated teachers.
  • ensuring that the learning and care continuum from birth to third grade is aligned,allows for smooth and effective transitions, and reflects best practices.

State Advisory Council Grant

The SAC grant consists of federal funds allocated to support the work of state early learning councils.  Illinois' areas of focus are:

  • Engaging Hard to Reach Families
  • Improving Data Collection
  • Increasing Capacity and Improving Facility
  • Developing the Workforce
  • Enhancing Community Collaboration

Council Members

Early Learning Council members serve on a voluntary, unpaid basis and reflect the regional, cultural, and racial diversity of Illinois. Members serve three-year terms. The President of the Senate, Minority Leader of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives each appoint one member to the Council; the Governor appoints all other members.

List of Early Learning Council Members


A majority of the Illinois Early Learning Council's work is accomplished through its committees and work groups.

List of Committess & Work Groups

New committee structure

Summary of Committee Work Areas

Early Learning Council Meetings

ELC & Executive Committee Meetings - FY2016

Early Learning Webinars

The Early Learning Council hosts periodic webinars on topics of interest to the ELC and the broader early learning community. Links to past webinars and the schedule of upcoming webinars are available below.

October 19, 2012 - Illinois Shared Learning Environment (ISLE) - (Webinar)

January 23, 2013 - Gateways to Opportunity Registry - (Webinar) (Slides)

February 13, 2013 - Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program - (Webinar) (Slides)

February 27, 2013 - Updates in Child Care Licensing - (Webinar) (Slides)

March 12, 2013 - Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) - (Webinar) (Slides)

March 27, 2013 - Exploring Local Partnerships and Federal Funding - (Webinar) (Slides)

April 11, 2013 - Special Education/Early Intervention - (Webinar) (Slides)

May 8, 2013 - The Common Core - (Webinar) (Slides)

May 22, 2013 - Home Visiting Models - (Webinar) (Slides)

June 19, 2013 - Infant Mental Health - (Webinar) (Slides)

November 12, 2013 - Head Start 101 - (Webinar) (Slides)

November 19, 2013 - Latino Infants and Toddlers in Policy and Practice in Illinois - (Webinar) (Slides)

For more information, contact Molly Daily at