Quality Improvement

Success starts at the beginning in quality early learning and development programs. To increase the number of state residents with high quality, industry recognized degrees and credentials, Illinois has launched a new Quality and Improvement Rating System called ExceleRate Illinois.

ExceleRate Illinois is the quality rating and improvement system that gives early learning and development programs the framework to make continuous quality improvements and gain recognition for their quality achievements. It also provides standards, guidelines, best practices, benchmarks and resources that they need to support children effectively in quality settings.

ExceleRate is a comprehensive system that includes licensed childcare centers, Preschool for All programs, Head Start programs, and licensed family child care homes (in 2015). It is administered through Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies under the joint direction of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the Illinois State Board of Education. To be eligible, DCFS-licensed childcare programs will need to be licensed for one year and have attended an ExceleRate Illinois orientation (other eligibility may be required). Please check our training calendar for the next available ExceleRate orientation.

To learn more about this program and opportunities within it, visit the Illinois Cares For Kids website.

The Quality Rating System

Funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services, the Quality Rating System (QRS) assists Illinois childcare programs in providing quality care for children and their families. This voluntary system is available to license-exempt family childcare providers and licensed family/group home childcare providers. It is not mandatory for providers to be serving children eligible for the IDHS Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) in order to participate in QRS.

The QRS offers progressive levels which providers can achieve depending on the type of care they provide. Specific quality criteria must be met to achieve a level. Once a childcare provider has met the required criteria for a level, they will be recognized for their achievement and will receive a quality add-on rate to the CCAP standard daily reimbursement rate for any approved CCAP children they are caring for.

Attendance at a QRS Orientation is required for any provider who applies to QRS. Please check our training calendar for training dates, times, and locations, or call our office for more information. To read more about the system or to receive an application, please contact the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies at 1-800-649-1884 or visit their website at IllinoisCaresforKids.org.

Quality Improvement Funds

The Quality Improvement Funds grant program is offered through the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to offer continued quality improvement for childcare programs. Quality Improvement Funds are designed to assist childcare programs to improve program quality and achieve or advance an ExceleRate Illinois Circle of Quality.

To find out more about the opportunities available with this funding, as well as deadline dates, please download a copy of the Quality Improvement Funds Guidelines and Application.

FY24 QI Funds Guidelines and Application
Download the QI Funds Training

* You must also submit a completed W9 with your grant application.  

Quality Counts Child Care Program Contact: Barbara at (309) 828-1892.


Finding Childcare

Provider Training Calendar

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Child Care Resource & Referral Network
207 W. Jefferson, Suite 301
Bloomington, IL 61701

Call Us
(309) 828-1892
(800) 437-8256

Fax Number: (309) 828-0526

Email Us

Office Hours: 8:00a.m. - 4:30p.m.

Child Care Resource and Referral Network services provided in the Illinois counties of:

DeWitt, Ford, Livingston, Mclean.