Professional Development

Professional development in early childhood allows providers to share, network, and remain current in the field. It is an ongoing process, which prepares early childhood providers to develop and expand upon their skills and knowledge. Visit the Project CHILD Calendar to view our up-to-date training calendar or download a PDF version of the calendar here. Access Illinois’ Statewide Training Calendar on the Gateways’ website.

To access online trainings required for Illinois DCFS licensing, ExceleRate, and additional online training opportunities, please visit You can also download and fill out our registration form. The form can be mailed, emailed, or faxed.

Individual Professional Development Funds

Based on available funding from the Illinois Department of Human Services, Project CHILD is offering funds to support individual pursuit of professional development in early care and education and school-age care.

Funds can be requested for:

  • 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 childcare administration/management
  • Fees associated with webinars/online training that are approved within the Illinois Gateways to Opportunity Registry
  • 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, FCC, TA, SAYD, FSC)

The FY22 IPDF Application is available here.

Click here to download the required W-9

Gateways to Opportunity Scholarship Program

The Gateways to Opportunity Scholarship Program is an individual-based scholarship opportunity for practitioners working in the field of Early Care and Education. Providers 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 and fees based on an eligible participant’s child care position income.

Receiving a financial scholarship may offer the opportunity for a childcare provider to gain a higher level of education and compensation.

For more information about the Gateways to Opportunity Scholarship Program or to receive an application, visit


Great START (Strategies to Attract and Retain Teachers) is a wage supplement program that pays eligible early care and education providers a monetary amount semi-annually for different steps attained within the program.

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 outline on the Great START wage supplement scale; and
  • Work year round, at least 15 hours per week for at least 12 consecutive months

For more information about the Great START program or to receive an application, visit or call (800) 362-7257.