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1    AN ACT concerning education.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Early
5Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Act.
6    Section 5. Findings. The General Assembly makes all of the
7following findings:
8        (1) This State faces a shortage of qualified early
9    childhood educators, with high vacancy rates in child care
10    centers, community-based early childhood programs, and
11    school-based classrooms across this State. Like roads and
12    bridges, early education and child care is an essential
13    part of our infrastructure that enables families to work
14    in all other industries. Beyond addressing the current
15    need, growing federal and State commitments to expanding
16    early childhood services, including the recommendations
17    put forth in the Governor's Illinois Commission on
18    Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding
19    report in March 2021, suggest that this State must be
20    prepared to meet the growing demand for a qualified
21    workforce to deliver these services in the coming years.
22        (2) To meet this growing demand and support this
23    critical infrastructure, the Illinois higher education



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1    system must support our incumbent early childhood
2    workforce through credential and degree attainment. The
3    workforce is overwhelmingly made up of women and women of
4    color, and many are balancing full-time employment, family
5    needs, and other responsibilities. Often, traditional
6    bachelor's degree programs are not accessible to
7    place-bound, full-time working parents.
8        (3) In this State, there is a history of partnership
9    among early childhood providers, stakeholders, and higher
10    education to identify workforce needs and strategies to
11    help promote access to higher education and degree
12    completion among the workforce. Illinois institutions of
13    higher education have taken steps to demonstrate a
14    commitment to the early childhood field, as well as
15    underserved student populations. Hybrid program models,
16    cohort program models, and scholarships and financial
17    incentives for students help to promote access to many
18    early childhood degree programs in this State.
19        (4) Over the past 2 decades, this State has attempted
20    numerous strategies to develop and support partnerships
21    among institutions of higher education that are focused on
22    this State's early childhood workforce. Through these
23    broader initiatives, as well as many individual local
24    partnerships, community colleges and public and private
25    universities have worked to implement articulation
26    agreements, credit transfer agreements, and program



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1    delivery models, although not all partnerships have been
2    maintained. Such initiatives include all of the following:
3            (A) In 2004, this State developed the Associate of
4        Arts in Teaching (AAT) degree model to promote
5        articulation among 2-year and 4-year institutions of
6        higher education. However, with the challenges in
7        credit transfer contributing to the limited viability
8        and success of the degree model, the Illinois
9        Community College Board stopped approving the AAT
10        degree model and has worked across the higher
11        education system to discontinue these programs.
12            (B) In 2013, this State dedicated federal Race to
13        the Top funds to create the Early Childhood Educator
14        Preparation Program Innovation (EPPI) Grant program.
15        Among other goals, the EPPI Grant program aimed to
16        foster the creation or further development of
17        partnerships between 2-year and 4-year preparation
18        programs at institutions of higher education, promote
19        articulation and alignment of the curriculum between
20        2-year and 4-year programs, and support early
21        childhood educator preparation programs in designing a
22        curriculum to incorporate new State standards and
23        program requirements. While the EPPI Grant program led
24        to some effective partnerships that still remain
25        intact today, program evaluations found varying levels
26        of partnership and that, in many cases, successful



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1        agreements were contingent upon individual
2        relationships or individual leaders within
3        institutions.
4            (C) Through the Illinois Articulation Initiative
5        (IAI), there are 3 early childhood courses approved
6        for articulation among participating institutions.
7        More than 100 Illinois colleges and universities
8        participate in the IAI, though challenges with
9        inconsistent participation and recognition do exist.
10            (D) Most recently, the creation of
11        competency-based education components for early
12        childhood education will help ensure that higher
13        education and credential programs are designed to
14        prepare early childhood educators to demonstrate the
15        same critical core competencies. The emphasis on core
16        competencies could improve educator preparedness and
17        could ease credit transfer and articulation processes
18        moving forward.
19        These programs and partnerships continue to benefit
20    many early childhood education students across this State,
21    but, overall, these efforts have not produced adequate
22    early childhood degrees to meet the demands in the field.
23    These types of initiatives are highly contingent upon
24    relationships and partnerships between specific
25    institutions and are often impacted if an institution
26    experiences turnover or program changes. Furthermore,



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1    these partnerships often do not address the geographic,
2    structural, and economic barriers the incumbent workforce
3    often faces in accessing bachelor's degree programs while
4    working full-time in the field. These ongoing challenges
5    are not new and have been noted in the development of these
6    previous efforts.
7        (5) As noted in the provisions of Public Act 101-654,
8    the General Assembly recognizes the critical role of the
9    early childhood workforce and, in response to challenges,
10    including staffing shortages and barriers to higher
11    education, calls upon the Board of Higher Education to
12    better meet the needs of the early childhood workforce.
13        (6) The General Assembly encourages this State to
14    consider dedicating federal funds for pandemic relief and
15    economic recovery efforts to ensure a successful launch of
16    the Consortium and the opportunities it creates to meet
17    the needs of the early childhood incumbent workforce,
18    including student financial support. This State, the
19    incumbent workforce, and the children in care will benefit
20    as workers enroll, persist, and complete credential and
21    degree programs.
22    Section 10. Definitions. In this Act:
23    "Community college" means a public community college that
24is included in the definition of "Community Colleges" under
25Section 1-2 of the Public Community College Act.



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1    "Consortium" means the Early Childhood Access Consortium
2for Equity.
3    "Credit for prior learning" means the evaluation and
4assessment of a student's life learning through employment,
5training, and experiences outside an academic environment from
6which skills that comprise terminal objectives are mastered to
7an acceptable degree of proficiency for college credit,
8certification, or advanced standing toward further education
9or training.
10    "Home institution" means the community college or
11university at which the student has been admitted.
12    "Incumbent workforce" means an individual or a group of
13individuals working or having worked in the early childhood
14industry, including family child care and center-based care
15settings, Preschool for All school-based settings, and Head
16Start, that serves children from birth to age 5 and includes
17teachers, assistant teachers, directors, family child care
18providers, and assistants.
19    "Member institutions" means the institutions of higher
20education participating in the Consortium.
21    "Public university" means the University of Illinois,
22Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University,
23Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University,
24Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University,
25Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, or
26any other public university or college, other than a community



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1college, now or hereafter established or authorized by the
2General Assembly.
3    Section 15. Creation of Consortium; purpose;
4administrative support.
5    (a) The Board of Higher Education and the Illinois
6Community College Board shall create and establish the Early
7Childhood Access Consortium for Equity.
8    (b) The purpose of the Consortium is to serve the needs of
9the incumbent early childhood workforce and the employers of
10early childhood educators and to advance racial equity while
11meeting the needs of employers by streamlining, coordinating,
12and improving the accessibility of degree completion pathways
13for upskilling and the sustained expansion of educational
14pipelines at Illinois institutions of higher education.
15    (c) The Board of Higher Education and the Illinois
16Community College Board shall convene the member institutions
17by July 1, 2021 or within 60 days after the effective date of
18this amendatory Act of the 102nd General Assembly. The Board
19of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board
20shall provide administrative support for the start up and
21operation of the Consortium until a permanent governance
22structure is developed and implemented. The Board of Higher
23Education and the Illinois Community College Board shall work
24with member institutions to establish geographic regional
25hubs, including public universities and the proximate



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1community colleges responsible for serving each regional hub.
2    Section 20. Membership; functions.
3    (a) Membership in the Consortium shall include all public
4universities and community colleges in this State that offer
5early childhood programs. Membership by private,
6not-for-profit universities is optional and conditional on the
7acceptance of the terms adopted by the public members, the
8related administrative rules, and the provisions of this Act.
9For-profit institutions of higher education are not eligible
10for membership in the Consortium. Participating institutions
11must be accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and
12entitled to offer Gateways Credentials.
13    (b) The members of the Consortium shall operate jointly
14and in cooperation through regional hubs to provide
15streamlined paths for students to attain associate degrees,
16bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, certificates, and
17Gateways Credentials and other licensure endorsements in early
18childhood education. The priority shall be to focus on the
19incumbent workforce, which includes working adults who require
20programs of study that offer flexibility in the times courses
21are offered, location, and format. The Consortium shall
22cooperate in all of the following:
23        (1) Providing course offerings within each regional
24    hub in online, hybrid, and in-person formats that are
25    available to any student enrolled in a member institution



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1    in that hub for occasions in which a particular course is
2    not available at the student's home institution. In this
3    paragraph (1), "not available" may mean the course is not
4    offered during a term, at a time, or in a format that works
5    best for the student. Courses taken at any member
6    institution shall be accepted toward the student's degree
7    at any other member institution. Course offerings across
8    regional hubs may also be provided by an agreement between
9    Consortium members. All course registration shall take
10    place in consultation with a student's academic advisor.
11        (2) Shared responsibilities through the Consortium and
12    within and across regional hubs to expand access for
13    students.
14        (3) Transfers in accordance with Section 130-10 of the
15    Transitions in Education Act.
16        (4) The development of standardized methods for
17    awarding credit for prior learning.
18        (5) The support necessary for student access,
19    persistence, and completion shall be provided by the home
20    institution, unless otherwise provided by agreement
21    between Consortium members.
22        (6) Admissions, financial arrangements, registration,
23    and advising services shall be functions of the home
24    institution but shall be honored across the Consortium.
25        (7) Member institutions working with their regional
26    pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and early childhood



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1    employer partners to determine demand throughout the
2    region.
3        (8) Data-sharing agreements.
4        (9) An agreement that students enrolled in associate
5    degree programs are encouraged to complete the associate
6    degree program prior to transferring to a bachelor's
7    degree program.
8        (10) Development of other shared agreements and terms
9    necessary to implement the Consortium and its
10    responsibilities.
11    By January 31, 2022, the Consortium shall decide how to
12assign college credit for the incumbent workers who have a
13Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and for future
14workers obtaining a CDA.
15    (c) The Consortium may facilitate or implement the
16following if deemed beneficial and feasible:
17        (1) the creation of an open education resource
18    library;
19        (2) support and training for program coaches and
20    cross-institutional navigators; and
21        (3) support for the development, implementation, and
22    participation in a statewide registry system through the
23    Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral
24    Agencies (INCCRRA) to provide tracking and data
25    capabilities for students across the system as they attain
26    competency through coursework.



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1    Section 25. Advisory committee; membership.
2    (a) The Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community
3College Board, the State Board of Education, the Department of
4Human Services, and the Governor's Office of Early Childhood
5Development shall jointly convene a Consortium advisory
6committee to provide guidance on the operation of the
8    (b) Membership on the advisory committee shall be
9comprised of employers and experts appointed by the Board of
10Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board, the
11Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development, and the
12State Board of Education. Membership shall also include all of
13the following members:
14        (1) An employer from a community-based child care
15    provider, appointed by the Governor's Office of Early
16    Childhood Development.
17        (2) An employer from a for-profit child care provider,
18    appointed by the Governor's Office of Early Childhood
19    Development.
20        (3) An employer from a nonprofit child care provider,
21    appointed by the Governor's Office of Early Childhood
22    Development.
23        (4) A provider of family child care, appointed by the
24    Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.
25        (5) An employer located in southern Illinois,



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1    appointed by the Governor's Office of Early Childhood
2    Development.
3        (6) An employer located in central Illinois, appointed
4    by the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.
5        (7) At least one member who represents an urban school
6    district, appointed by the State Board of Education.
7        (8) At least one member who represents a suburban
8    school district, appointed by the State Board of
9    Education.
10        (9) At least one member who represents a rural school
11    district, appointed by the State Board of Education.
12        (10) At least one member who represents a school
13    district in a city with a population of 500,000 or more,
14    appointed by the State Board of Education.
15        (11) Two early childhood advocates with statewide
16    expertise in early childhood workforce issues, appointed
17    by the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.
18        (12) The Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson and the
19    Minority Spokesperson or a designee of the Senate
20    Committee on Higher Education.
21        (13) The Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson and the
22    Minority Spokesperson or a designee of the House Committee
23    on Higher Education.
24        (14) One member representing the Illinois Community
25    College Board, who shall serve as co-chairperson,
26    appointed by the Illinois Community College Board.



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1        (15) One member representing the Board of Higher
2    Education, who shall serve as co-chairperson, appointed by
3    the Board of Higher Education.
4        (16) One member representing the Illinois Student
5    Assistance Commission, appointed by the Board of Higher
6    Education.
7        (17) One member representing the State Board of
8    Education, who shall serve as co-chairperson, appointed by
9    the State Board of Education.
10        (18) One member representing the Governor's Office of
11    Early Childhood Development, who shall serve as
12    co-chairperson, appointed by the Governor's Office of
13    Early Childhood Development.
14        (19) One member representing the Department of Human
15    Services, who shall serve as co-chairperson, appointed by
16    the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.
17        (20) One member representing INCCRRA, appointed by the
18    Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.
19        (21) One member representing the Department of
20    Children and Family Services, appointed by the Governor's
21    Office of Early Childhood Development.
22        (22) One member representing an organization that
23    advocates on behalf of community college trustees,
24    appointed by the Illinois Community College Board.
25        (23) One member of a union representing child care and
26    early childhood providers, appointed by the Governor's



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1    Office of Early Childhood Development.
2        (24) Two members of unions representing higher
3    education faculty, appointed by the Board of Higher
4    Education.
5        (25) A representative from the College of Education of
6    an urban public university, appointed by the Board of
7    Higher Education.
8        (26) A representative from the College of Education of
9    a suburban public university, appointed by the Board of
10    Higher Education.
11        (27) A representative from the College of Education of
12    a rural public university, appointed by the Board of
13    Higher Education.
14        (28) A representative from the College of Education of
15    a private university, appointed by the Board of Higher
16    Education.
17        (29) A representative of an urban community college,
18    appointed by the Illinois Community College Board.
19        (30) A representative of a suburban community college,
20    appointed by the Illinois Community College Board.
21        (31) A representative of rural community college,
22    appointed by the Illinois Community College Board.
23    (c) The advisory committee shall meet quarterly. The
24committee meetings shall be open to the public in accordance
25with the provisions of the Open Meetings Act.



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1    Section 30. Reporting. The Consortium shall report to the
2General Assembly, to the Senate and House Committees with
3oversight over higher education, to the Governor, and to the
4advisory committee on the progress made by the Consortium. A
5report must include, but is not limited to, all of the
6following information:
7        (1) Student enrollment numbers for the fall and spring
8    terms or semesters, retention rates, persistence in
9    relevant associate, baccalaureate, and credential
10    programs, including demographic data that is disaggregated
11    by race, ethnicity, and federal Pell Grant status,
12    reported twice per year. Completion numbers and rates,
13    employer type, and years worked shall be reported
14    annually.
15        (2) Tuition rates charged and net prices paid,
16    reported both as including and excluding student loans, by
17    enrolled members of the incumbent workforce, reported
18    annually.
19        (3) Outreach plans to recruit and enroll incumbent
20    workforce members, reported twice per year.
21        (4) Participation of the incumbent workforce in
22    outreach programs, which may include participation in an
23    informational session, social media engagement, or other
24    activities, reported twice per year.
25        (5) Student academic and holistic support plans to
26    help the enrolled incumbent workforce persist in their



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1    education, reported annually.
2        (6) Evidence of engagement and responsiveness to the
3    needs of employer partners, reported annually.
4        (7) The Consortium budget including the use of federal
5    funds, reported annually.
6        (8) Member contributions, including financial,
7    physical, or in-kind contributions, provided to the
8    Consortium, reported annually.
9    Section 35. Goals and metrics.
10    (a) By July 1, 2021 or within 60 days after the effective
11date of this amendatory Act of the 102nd General Assembly, the
12Board of Higher Education's Strategic Plan Educator Workforce
13subgroup on the early childhood workforce must set goals for
14the Consortium for the enrollment, persistence, and completion
15of members of the incumbent workforce in associate,
16bachelor's, and master's degree programs, Gateways Credentials
17in Level 2, 3, or 4, and Professional Educator Licensure by
18September 30, 2024. The goals set for the Consortium must be
19data informed and include targets for annual enrollment and
21    (b) Data from the Gateways Registry, March 2020, indicates
22that there are 7,670 individuals with an associate degree who
23would benefit from progressing to a baccalaureate degree and
2420,467 individuals with a high school diploma or some college
25who would benefit from progressing to an associate degree. If



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1the goals cannot be set in accordance with subsection (a), the
2goal for the Consortium shall be that by September 30, 2024,
320% of the individuals described in this subsection (b) who do
4not have a degree will have enrolled and be persisting toward
5or have attained a Gateways Credential in Level 2, 3, or 4 or
6an associate degree and, of the individuals who have an
7associate degree, will be enrolled and persisting toward or
8have attained a baccalaureate degree or will be persisting
9toward or have attained a Professional Educator License.
10    (c) Student financial aid, including incentives and
11stipends, data-sharing, and professional statewide engagement
12and marketing campaign and recruitment efforts are critical to
13the Consortium's ability to quickly attract and enroll
14students into these programs. Navigators, mentors, and
15advisors are critical for persistence and completion. If
16federal funds are not appropriated for these purposes and the
17other purposes of this Section, the Board of Higher Education,
18the Illinois Community College Board, the State Board of
19Education, the Department of Human Services, and the
20Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development, in
21consultation with the advisory committee, shall adjust the
22initial target metrics appropriately by adopting challenging
23goals that may be attainable with less public investment.
24    (d) The Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community
25College Board, the State Board of Education, the Department of
26Human Services, and the Governor's Office of Early Childhood



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1Development, in consultation with the advisory committee,
2shall determine new metrics and goals for the Consortium as
3they relate to the remaining and future early childhood
4workforce, to be instituted after the close of the 2024-2025
5academic year and going forward. Metrics must take into
6consideration that the pipeline depends on sustained,
7increased student enrollment and completion rates at the
8associate degree level if this State aims to continue with
9sustained, increased student enrollment and completion at the
10bachelor's degree level.
11    Section 40. Affordability. The institutions participating
12in the Consortium and the advisory committee shall work to
13ensure that students have the most affordable options for
14advancing through and attaining their degree or credentials.
15    Section 90. Rules. The Board of Higher Education and the
16Illinois Community College Board may adopt any rules necessary
17to administer and implement this Act.
18    Section 500. The Transitions in Education Act is amended
19by adding Section 130-10 as follows:
20    (110 ILCS 180/130-10 new)
21    Sec. 130-10. Gateway Credentials; associate degree.
22    (a) A community college student who earns the Department



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1of Human Services's Gateways ECE Credential Level 4 as part of
2an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in early
3childhood education that is consistent with the degree
4requirements established by the Illinois Community College
5Board and the Board of Higher Education, as appropriate, is
6deemed eligible for transfer into an early childhood education
7baccalaureate program at a public university if the student
8meets all of the requirements of the AAS degree program, is
9transferring from a program entitled to offer the Gateways ECE
10Credential Level 4, and earns a minimum grade point average of
11a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale.
12    (b) Recognizing that the AAS degree and other associate
13degrees provide important pathways into the early childhood
14education profession and notwithstanding any other provision
15of law to the contrary, a public university shall grant junior
16level status in an early childhood education program to any
17community college student who has graduated from an Illinois
18community college with an Associate of Applied Science degree
19in early childhood education. A public university may not
20require students transferring pursuant to this Section to
21repeat courses taken and completed successfully at the
22community college and applied toward the associate degree
23granted pursuant to subsection (a) of this Section. All
24courses completed successfully in the AAS degree program must
25count toward baccalaureate degree completion. Students
26entering with an AAS may not be required to take a total number



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1of credits greater than those students first starting in a
2baccalaureate degree program. This includes any courses in
3which credit for prior learning was used to determine course
4equivalency and credit was awarded by the evaluating
5institution. Additional coursework may be required if a
6student is seeking to add one or more endorsements to the
7student's Illinois Professional Educator License.
8    Section 999. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
9becoming law.