Credentials & Accreditation


Credentials are awarded to individuals who have successfully demonstrated their ability in areas identified as critical to their profession. They also advance the professional development of individuals wishing to move up the career ladder within their respective program and/or to pursue a career in early care and education.

Illinois Director Credential

The Illinois Director Credential is earned through validation of accomplishments in five competency components. At each level the candidate must demonstrate a strong foundation in early childhood and school age care and education through completed coursework. The candidate must also complete course work that demonstrates a strong understanding of basic business and management theories and practices. By demonstrating competency in the five components, the director earns the Illinois Director Credential – a standard in management and leadership and a symbol of individual professional achievement.

To learn more about the Illinois Director Credential visit the Illinois Gateways to Opportunity website.

Family Child Care Credential Levels 2-5

Gateways Family Child Care (FCC) Credential Levels 2–5 is for professionals working, as a family child care provider with children ages birth through 12 years, who have specific levels of training, education, and experience.

To learn more about the Family Child Care Credential visit the Illinois Gateways to Opportunity website.

ECE Credential Level 1

The ECE Credential Level 1 Training online is designed to introduce individuals to general child development, health and safety, school-age care, observation, environments for children, and the importance of relationships with children and their families.  Participants who complete the entire training are qualified for an ECE Credential Level 1, which is the first step on the Gateways to Opportunity Career Lattice. This credential is for individuals interested in entering the field of early care and education.

To learn more about the ECE Credential Level 1, visit the Illinois Gateways to opportunity website.

Infant Toddler Credential 2-5

Gateways Infant Toddler Credential Levels 2-5 are for child care professionals working with children birth to age 3 who have specific levels of training, education and experience. To earn an ITC Level 2-5 you must also meet the requirements for a Gateways ECE Credential.

To learn more about the Infant Toddler Credential Levels 2-5, visit the Illinois Gateways to opportunity website.

School-Age & Youth Development (SAYD) Credential Level 1

The Gateways School-Age & Youth Development (SAYD) Credential Level 1 is for individuals interested in working with children and youth ages 5–18. It consists of a series of trainings that are offered statewide by your local Child Care Resource & Referral.

To learn more about the SAYD Credential 1, visit the Illinois Gateways to opportunity website.

Child Development Associate Credential (CDA)

A Child Development Associate (CDA) is an individual who has successfully completed the CDA assessment process and has been awarded the CDA Credential. CDAs are able to meet the specific needs of children and work with parents and other adults to nurture children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth in a child development framework. Earning the CDA Credential has many advantages, including motivating caregivers toward continuing education and providing a platform for professional and career opportunities.

CDA Content Areas:

  • Subject Area 1-Planning a safe, healthy learning environment
  • Subject Area 2-Advancement of physical and interllectual developlment
  • Subject Area 3-Positive ways to support children’s social and emotional development
  • Subject Area 4-Strategies to establish productive relationships with families
  • Subject Area 5-Stratgies to manage an effective program
  • Subject Area 6-Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
  • Subject Area 7-Observing and recording children’s behavior
  • Subject Area 8-Principles of child growth and development

To learn more about the CDA Credential visit the CDA Council for Professional Recognition website.


Accreditation is a voluntary process designed specifically for child care programs, family child care homes, and school-age programs. Receiving the award of program accreditation is highly prized and exemplifies a program that excels in the care and education of young children.

National Association for Family Child Care Accreditation (NAFCC)

The National Association for Family Child Care accredits family child care homes that offer high-quality child care services. The purpose of Accreditation is to offer professional recognition and consumer distinction to those providers who meet these high standards of quality through their consistency and dedication. Accreditation is intended for providers who have demonstrated a commitment to reach beyond the minimum requirements of state licensing.

To learn more about NAFCC Accreditation visit NAFCC website.

National Association for the Education of Young Children Accreditation (NAEYC)

In this accreditation process, a child care center’s administration, staff, and parents join with representatives of the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs to determine whether their program meets nationally recognized criteria for high quality. Accreditation is achieved through self-study and facilitates lasting improvements in the quality of the early childhood program.

To learn more about NAEYC Accreditation visit the NAEYC website.

Questions about the accreditation or credentialing process may be directed to our Training Coordinator at (815) 484-9442 ext. 211.