Birth to Five plans early child care help


ALTON —  Birth to Five Illinois early childhood grants are now available for communities.

The program uses a collaborative process of stakeholders coming together to discuss issues in their community with “systems-thinking” approaches to identify early childhood issues, root causes and solutions, according to Birth to Five Illinois’ Angela Hubbard, grants and relationships manager.

According to Birth To Five, there are 23,371 children under 6 years old in Madison, Macoupin, Greene, Jersey and Calhoun counties. Tammy Wrobbel is the Birth to Five Regional Council Manager for Madison County. Keppen Clanton is Regional Council Manager for Calhoun, Greene, Jersey and Macoupin counties. 

Statewide $2.5 million in implementation grants are available for organizations already working on early child care to enhance early learning systems. The grant application deadline is Aug. 5.

An early childhood collaboration is a formalized group working together to improve its local early childhood system. The grant is not meant for individual child care providers, homes or centers. For that, Illinois has a separate program, the Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants program, not administered by Birth to Five Illinois.

Hubbard said Birth to Five Illinois intends to achieve its goals by elevating voices of families and providers to improve early childhood programs. More than one early childhood collaboration can apply for grant money together; partnering is encouraged if the collaborations serve the same or overlapping geographic areas or populations. 

“Birth to Five Illinois seeks to drive funding into areas that have been historically overlooked by prioritizing communities with a high number of children living in poverty, households with limited English proficiency, and areas with a high Social Vulnerability Index, among other indicators,” Hubbard said.

The first phase of grant funding is closely tied to the state’s focus on regaining and increasing enrollment in early childhood education and care programs and services which have seen a sizable enrollment decrease because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are online at

The anticipated maximum amount of a grant is $80,000; the average expected amount is $70,000. An additional $500,000 in Planning Grants to help groups develop new local collaborations is planned this fall.

Applicants must provide matching funds:

• Year 1: 10% may be in-kind and/or cash 

• Year 2 (if renewed): 20%, of which 10% may be in-kind

• Year 3 (if renewed): 25%, of which 5% may be in-kind.

Existing local early childhood collaborations must use the grants on strategies to increase enrollment in programs and services.  

A selection panel will review and score submissions with grants prioritized toward collaborations serving young children living in poverty, children of color, households with limited English proficiency, areas of high social vulnerability and areas designated as high risk according to the Illinois Home Visiting: 2020 Statewide Needs Assessment Update Report to the Health Resources and Services Administration. 

The Social Vulnerability Index identifies areas that would have difficulty recovering from a major disaster, such as major flooding. It uses factors related to poverty, lack of access to transportation and crowded housing.

Example of allowable expenses include but are not limited to staffing, coordinated intake and referral systems, mileage reimbursement for staff, convening stakeholders and translation.

Applicant must be Grant Accountability and Transparency Act certified per Illinois Department of Human Services’ requirements. They must be an established Illinois early childhood collaboration and a legal entity with a Unique Entity Identifier and the capacity to serve and implement state funds. They are not required to hold 501(c)(3) status.

Ineligible are All Our Kids Network grantees and child care resource and referral agencies.

Birth to Five’s vision promotes a more equitable early childhood education and care system that is family and community voice centered and prioritized. It seeks to address the inequitable distribution of resources and services in Illinois and remove barriers to a child’s success.


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