Quality Improvement Funds

Get additional funding for your child care program.

Illinois is committed to assisting child care providers in providing quality education and care for young children (birth through 12 years). The Quality Improvement (QI) Funds have been developed to assist and support child care programs that are choosing to achieve a Circle of Quality above the Licensing level.

Quality Improvement Funds assist child care programs with:

  • Achieving a Bronze, Silver or Gold Circle of Quality
  • Achieving National Accreditation
  • Advancing to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Circle of Quality
  • Maintaining a Silver or Gold Circle of Quality
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Apply for Quality Improvement Funds!

Download the Quality Improvement Funds guide and application. To learn more, view the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Download Application




How To Submit Your Application:


Mail your application and all supporting documents to:

Illinois Action for Children
ATTN: Quality Improvement Funds
4753 N. Broadway St., 1st Floor
Chicago, IL 60640


Upload your application and all supporting documentation online:

Temporarily Closed

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Frequently Asked Questions

Licensed Child Care Centers & Licensed Family Child Care

A child care program must:

  • Be listed on the local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) provider database
  • Be providing child care services in Cook County
  • Be a current member (Provider/Staff) of the IL Gateways to Opportunity Registry.
  • Have no unpaid financial obligation to the CCR&R agency or IDHS-DEC
  • Programs currently caring for children whose care is paid for by the IDHS-DEC’s Child Care Assistance
  • Program (CCAP), with greater priority given to those with 50% or more of their enrollment consisting of IDHS-DEC CCAP funded children
  • Programs that are full-year (at least 47 weeks)/full-day (at least 8 hours)
  • Programs that are currently caring for infants and toddlers
  • Programs that have not received QI Funds in the last two grant years (FY23 or FY22).
  • For ExceleRate ™ IL Cohort – first time applicant programs are a priority for cohort participation.


Not for the purposes of the Quality Improvement Funds. A program must declare one circle of quality.

Child care programs must complete and submit the application, the appropriate supplemental application, and all required supporting documentation.

Once an application is submitted, our team will review the documents for completeness and eligibility.

Programs will be notified in writing of their approval or denial. Incomplete applications will be returned to the child care program.

No. Each site is considered a different program. Each program must submit an application with requests specific to that program.

  • A program must have at a minimum completed the orientation to Excelerate™ IL training or currently hold an Excelerate™ IL Circle of Quality (Bronze, Silver, Gold).
  • For those maintaining an Excelerate ™ IL Circle of Quality, must have completed self-assessment within the last 6 months (from time of application).
  • For those working towards an Excelerate ™ IL application, must be willing to complete as part of cohort participation.
  • Must have a current, signed consultant agreement in place with the CCR&R Quality and/or Infant Toddler Specialist OR for those participating in the cohort, must be willing to sign a consultant agreement during the first cohort session.

For the quality improvement cohort, programs receiving Quality Improvement (QI) funds must meet and actively work with the Quality and/or Infant Toddler Specialist for at least four sessions.

For the Training Stipend and Accreditation Assistance, programs must attend a minimum of two (2) sessions.

During the first session the following items will be discussed: goals for the program, steps to develop a Continuous Quality Improvement Plan (CQIP), steps to develop a professional development plan, etc. The consultant agreement will also be discussed, developed, and signed.

See each section for application submission deadlines (C12, D15, E4)

ALL applicants must complete the QI funds application (pages 5-7). In addition, applicants must complete one or more of the corresponding supplemental applications.

  • Excelerate™ IL Cohort
  • Excelerate™ IL Training Stipend
  • Accreditation Assistance

If supplemental applications are submitted at different times, a QI funds application must be completed each time.

Funding Range for the fiscal year (July-June).

The allowable funding applies for any combination of QI Funds.

Provider Type Capacity Funding Range
Licensed Family Child Care Up to $1,200
Licensed Family Group Home Up to $1,500
Child Care Center
50 or less
101 or more
Up to $3,000
Up to $5,000
Up to $8,000

Please read the specific section for payment information.

This is a grant program, which means funds do not generally need to be paid back. However, the grant funds come from the state of Illinois, and certain policies and procedures must be followed:

  • If a program goes out of business within two years of the grant award, funds received under the cohort component will need to be repaid at a pro-rated amount. In some cases, Illinois Action for Children may be able to recoup materials and equipment purchased with grant funds.
  • In the event of over or improper payment or reimbursement, appropriate arrangements will need to be made with Illinois Action for Children regarding return of funds.
  • If payment is made for an accreditation process and the program withdraws or does not complete the process, the child care program will need to work with Illinois Action for Children regarding the return of funds.

Grant funds may need to be reported as income. If awarded grant funds, a completed W-9 will be required. Items purchased with grant money may be eligible to claim as business deductions. Please consult an accountant or tax preparer for further information.

  • Only completed applications will be considered.
  • Applicants must use the application provided for July 2023–June 2024.
  • Electronic applications will be accepted.
  • Funding is limited and not guaranteed.
  • Partial funding may be awarded.
  • Payment cannot be made until a complete application and all required documents are received.

Yes, but attendance is not mandatory. We encourage first-time applicants to participate. For those who have applied before, it is good to attend as a refresher and to learn about changes to the program.

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Have Questions? Get Answers!

For more information, contact our Quality Improvement Funds team:




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