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Strong Foundations For Our Youngest Children

BUILD Illinois

Download Illinois's 2015 BUILD State Profile

BUILD State Inception Year


BUILD State Leads

Karen Berman, Ounce of Prevention Fund, [email protected]
Kathy Stohr, Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development,
Gail Nourse, Ounce of Prevention Fund, [email protected]

Early Childhood System

Early Childhood Governance Structure: The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (OECD) leads the state’s initiatives to create an integrated system of high quality, early learning and development programs to help give all Illinois children and families a strong foundation before they begin kindergarten. The office was created in 2009 to focus the state’s efforts and maximize its investment in early learning programs.

The OECD works in partnership with the Illinois Early Learning Council (ELC), a public-private partnership created by Public Act 93-380, to strengthen, coordinate and expand programs and services for children, birth to five, throughout Illinois. With a membership including senior state officials and non-governmental stakeholders appointed by the Governor, the ELC builds on current programs to ensure a comprehensive, statewide early learning system to improve the lives of Illinois children and families beginning prenatally.

Multiple state and local agencies administer the continuum of services and supports that comprise the early learning system in Illinois, including the Illinois State Board of Education (Preschool for All and Prevention Initiative, which together comprise the Early Childhood Block Grant), Department of Human Services (home visiting, Early Intervention, child care, WIC), Department of Children and Family Services (child welfare and child care licensing), and Department of Public Health (family case management, health programs).

Top 3 Early Childhood Areas of Focus in 2015

  1. Establish a clear action plan for Illinois’ early childhood systems building efforts, and determine the roles of the ELC, the state Inter-Agency Team (IAT) and state agencies, and the OECD in moving the plan forward. 
  2. Continue implementation and coordination of major federal initiatives and state strategic action plans within the context of Illinois’ broad early childhood vision, including the PreK expansion grant, the MIECHV grant, the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant, the Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships, the state’s Community Systems strategic plan, mental health strategic plan, and ELC approved health recommendations.  
  3. Better understand and address prioritization of the most vulnerable children and families to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of high quality early learning programs and supports throughout the state that can be effectively accessed.

BUILD 2015 Areas of Focus

  • Synthesize various strategic plans that have been created in recent years (e.g. Illinois Early Childhood Mental Health Action Plan, Illinois Community Systems Development Plan, the Early Learning Council Strategic Plan, and health recommendations) and prioritize next steps.
  • Provide expertise, facilitation and guidance to support Illinois's efforts to implement the Community Systems Development Plan.
  • Identify the ability of Illinois’ current birth-to-three system to absorb increased resources and create a plan to address any deficiencies in the state’s current infrastructure.
  • Ensure effective use of the ELC, IAT, OECD, state and local agencies, community collaborations and other key stakeholders in moving Illinois’ vision for early childhood systems and supports forward.

Federal Grants

  • Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant - $52,498,043 (Phase 2)
  • Preschool Expansion Grant - $80,000,000 (FY 2014-2017)
  • Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership State Grant - No state grant was received. $18,100,000 in annual grants were received by four community-based organizations in Illinois.
  • MIECHV Grant - $9,399,351 competitive grant and $4,016,157 formula grant (FY 2015)

State Funds Supporting Early Childhood Programs/Initiatives

FY 2015 funding includes:

Child Care - $494,758,000
Home Visiting - $16,910,300
Early Intervention - $87,691,700
Early Childhood Block Grant - $293,438,071

Local/Regional Collaboratives: Illinois has a variety of local early childhood collaboratives through its All Our Kids (AOK) Early Childhood Networks, its MIECHV network, its RTT-ELC Innovation Zones and its Regional Interagency Coordinating Councils, in addition to local collaboratives that have been created by local communities. In 2014, state leaders initiated a year-long planning process to develop a community systems development plan. Initial work to implement this plan began in 2015.

State Government Leadership

  • Governor Bruce Rauner (R)
  • State Legislature: House and Senate (both Democrat controlled)

Key State Websites of Interest

Special State Resources