September 2022


Illinois Cares for Kids FREE Kindergarten Readiness Program

Illinois Cares for Kids is inviting all families to join Ready4K! Ready4K is a free research-based text messaging program for families with child(ren) ages 0-11 in Illinois. The program supports families, increases children’s learning, and provides a method for the State to share customized early childhood messaging with families.

Each week, parents receive three text messages to help them build their child(ren)’s literacy skills by maximizing existing family routines in fun and easy ways. Messages are delivered in English, Spanish, Polish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabic or Russian!

Want to learn more? Ready4K is hosting weekly information sessions to share about the program offer and discuss implementation. If you are interested in attending, please register below.

For questions, please reach out to LeeAnn Kiper at

Register For Information Session

Announcements from Birth to Five Illinois 

FY23 Implementation Grant Recipients

Birth to Five Illinois has issued $2.5 million in Implementation Grants that will reach 20 Local Early Childhood Collaborations and 35 counties across the State! The purpose of this funding is to help collaborations apply systemic strategies to the challenge of regaining and increasing enrollment into early childhood programs and services. 

Read the Press Release
Visit the Grants Page

Meet the Newest Staff

The Birth to Five Illinois staffing structure includes a Council Manager, Family & Community Engagement Specialist, and Administrative Support in each region of the State. Statewide positions are almost filled! Click the buttons below to read the new staff bios. 

Families – Share Your Story! 

Birth to Five Illinois has created a welcoming space for parents and caregivers to share their family's story of Early Childhood Education and Care challenges and successes. As families share their stories, Birth to Five Illinois will amplify the disparities in the system and work collectively and strategically to mend what is broken, while also celebrating what is working.  

Share Your Story
View the Family Stories

IL Association for Infant Mental Health 41st Annual Virtual Conference

Finding Hope in Hard Places: Stories to Inspire Future Healing Featuring: Chandra Ghosh Ippen, PhD

October 21, 2022, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. & 12:30–2:00 p.m.

Those that support families and their children jointly help them make meaning of traumatic experiences so they are not defined by those experiences.

This workshop presents stories and pictures from over 30 years of work in the field of trauma and show us how we can find hope in hard places. Painting a picture of what is possible, illustrate key lessons we need everyone to understand about early childhood trauma, and help us recognize the wisdom of young children.


  • Name at least two core trauma concepts and understand how they apply to children under age six and to cross systems work
  • Share at least two ways that play can help families transform traumatic experiences
  • List two ways that young children may process their traumatic experiences differently than older children.
Find Out More 

Congressional MIECHV Visit 

Congressman Danny K. Davis, US Health & Human Services HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson, Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Early Childhood (DEC) Director Kirstin Chernawsky, DEC Home Visiting Bureau Chief Lesley Schwartz, and Home Visiting Program Administrator Meg Givens visited Chicago's Primo Center for Women and Children to discuss the vital role of the the Maternal, Infant, & Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program in providing expectant parents and parents with young children the critical support to thrive. This program is up for reauthorization at the end of this federal fiscal year. Click here to read HRSA’s Press Release about the event.  

Head Start Eligibility and SNAP

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued new guidance announcing the family-friendly policy of permitting families and guardians to use proof of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) receipt or eligibility as a pathway to enroll in Head Start.  

Read More

Early Childhood Transformation Team is Hiring!

The Early Childhood Transformation Team at the Center for Early Learning Funding Equity (CELFE) is HIRING! We are looking for an equity-centered project coordinator to lead and facilitate the development of a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Racial Justice plan for the Illinois Department of Human Services' Division of Early Childhood. Please see the attached job description for more details. 

This is a time-limited position ending June 30, 2024. Apply via the NIU's website:


Priority application deadline is October 3, 2022. Applications submitted after this day will be considered only if needed. 


As always, thank you for your partnership and leadership. If you have questions about this position - feel free to reach out to Etonde directly at .


See the Job Description

Featured Resources

Head Start Awareness Month Digital Toolkit

Every October, the Office of Head Start celebrates Head Start Awareness Month. This year, we’re going back to basics and promoting what Head Start programs do, who they serve, and how they help communities nationwide.

Help us raise awareness of the ways Head Start programs and services support vulnerable children and families to succeed in school and in life. The toolkit features social media assets and messaging for you to share throughout October to connect with eligible families as well as early care, education, and family service providers of all kinds.

Download the Toolkit

Home Visiting Services for Refugee, Immigrant, Migrant, and Dual Language Learner Families 

The National Home Visiting Resource Center has just released a brief on Home visiting Services for Refugee, Immigrant, Migrant, and Dual Language Learner Families. This Innovation Roundup Brief highlights five home visiting programs across the country using innovative, strengths-based practices. Program staff discussed strategies for supporting these families, such as removing barriers to program enrollment, leveraging community partnerships, and recruiting home visitors who represent the community’s culture and language. 

Comprehensive Overview of Early Childhood Programs and Services in Illinois

The Illinois Workforce and Education Research Collaborative, Discover Partnership Institute, University of Illinois has published this new brief. It provides a comprehensive overview of early childhood programs for children and their families from the perinatal period (before and after birth) to 5 years old in Illinois.

The information is provide in a number of ways including by ages served, state agency, type of service and funding source. The report can be useful to early childhood professionals, policy makers, and parents and caregivers. 

Kids Count Data Book

The 33rd edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT® Data Book describes how children in America are in the midst of a mental health crisis, struggling with anxiety and depression at unprecedented levels and that racial and ethnic inequality persists. The report also highlights a number of positive trends

This year’s publication continues to present national and state data across four domains — economic well-being, education, health and family and community — and ranks states in overall child well-being. The report includes pre-pandemic figures as well as more recent statistics, and shares the latest information of its kind available.

The Foundation calculates a composite index of overall child well-being for each state by combining data across four domains: (1) Economic Well-Being, (2) Education, (3) Health and (4) Family and Community. 

Download the State report on Illinois Children's Well Being in English and Spanish

COVID-19 Resources

Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Child Care 

Updated Illinois guidance was issued September 23, 2022 for early childhood education and care. In addition to continuing to recommend strategies for everyday operations that prevent the spread COVID-19 and other infectious disease, the new document changes guidance on screening testing. 

Download Updated Guidance

COVID-19 Vaccines Are Recommended for All Children Ages

6 months and Older

Getting your child vaccinated is the best thing to do for their health while COVID-19 is still spreading. Before the vaccine became available for children, scientists and medical experts reviewed it for safety and how well it worked. Messenger RNA, or mRNA, was developed in the 1970s, so it was ready when COVID-19 came along.

While children generally do better with COVID-19, they can get very sick, have lasting heath issues, or die from this virus. Protect your child from COVID-19, get them all the recommended doses. 

For more information, visit Illinois Vaccinates. You can find resources in English and Spanish. ·