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Administered by INCCRRA - Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies



What is the Gateway's Scholarship Program?

 The Gateway's Scholarship Program was created to improve the education of people working in child care centers and family child care homes while increasing their compensation. The first component, the Early Childhood Associate Degree Scholarship Program for Child Care Center Staff, was implemented in 1996 to upgrade the level of education of center staff working with your children, while making the educational process affordable, increasing wages, and reducing turnover.
In 1997, the program expanded state-wide to include the Early Childhood Associate Degree Scholarship Program for Family Child Care Providers. In the Fall of 1999, scholarship assistance for CDA and CCP certification were added.
In order to provide the opportunity for child care professionals to take the next step on the educational ladder, the Early Childhood Bachelor's Degree Scholarship Program for child care center staff and family child care providers has been added to the other programs of the project.

Who is eligible to participate in the Gateway's Scholarship Program?

Scholarships are awarded on the basis of need and commitment to the         early childhood field.

Any child care center staff working with children, directors of centers, or family child care provider who would like to attend a participating university to earn a degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development and who meets the following criteria is eligible for a scholarship.

Applicants MUST:

  1. Be employed at least 30 hours per week in a child care center or licensed family child care home;
  2. Have at least 55 hours of transferable credit toward a degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development;
  3. Be eligible for university admission as an in-state student;
  4. Have worked in child care in Illinois for at least one year; and
  5. Earn less than $15 per hour as caregivers or $15 per hour as directors.

Priority consideration is given to those working in programs which care for 25% or more publicly subsidized children. Programs not currently serving subsidized families, but willing to give priority enrollment to subsidized families to fill future openings are also eligible to apply.

What does the Scholarship pay for?

The scholarship covers 50-80% of the cost of tuition and books, and provides a travel stipend each semester. Recipients who are classroom staff are given paid time off to study, attend class or meet personal needs.

Upon completion of 9-15 semester hours, scholarship recipients receive either a pay increase or bonus in salary. The Gateway's Scholarship Program reimburses the center for one half of the release time given and provides half of the bonus for recipients entitled to a bonus under their contract.

Who Pays for the Gateway's Scholarship Program?

A partnership exists between the recipient, the sponsoring child care program and the Gateway's Scholarship Program. Each part pays a portion of the cost.

What commitments must the scholarship recipient make?

Scholarship recipients:

  • Commit to attend classes and successfully complete 9-15 semester hours toward a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education;
  • May be asked to contribute a percentage of the costs of tuition and books;
  • Agree to remain at the sponsoring center, or continue to operate their center or home, for one year after the term of the scholarship, and remain in the early childhood field in Illinois for an additional year.

What commitment must the sponsoring center make?

Centers must agree to:

  • Sponsor a scholarship recipient by contributing a portion of the cost of tuition and books;
  • Give recipients who are classroom staff paid release time each week; and
  • Agree to award the recipient either a bonus or raise at the end of the scholarship year.

How do I get more information? Contacts are below.


Gateway's Scholarship Program
Early Childhood Illinois Project Office 
207 W. Jefferson, Suite 503
Bloomington, IL 61701
Within IL - Phone: (866) 697-8278 
Outside IL - Phone: (309) 827-5067
Fax: (309) 827-3857




Misty Baker, Director 
Child Care Resource and Referral 
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Avenue 
Charleston, Il 61920 
Phone: (217) 581-2124 
Fax: (217) 581-6090