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Public Act 102-0174


 

Public Act 0174 102ND GENERAL ASSEMBLY

  
  
  

 


 
Public Act 102-0174
 
HB2878 EnrolledLRB102 16984 CMG 22404 b

    AN ACT concerning education.
 
    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
 
    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Early
Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Act.
 
    Section 5. Findings. The General Assembly makes all of the
following findings:
        (1) This State faces a shortage of qualified early
    childhood educators, with high vacancy rates in child care
    centers, community-based early childhood programs, and
    school-based classrooms across this State. Like roads and
    bridges, early education and child care is an essential
    part of our infrastructure that enables families to work
    in all other industries. Beyond addressing the current
    need, growing federal and State commitments to expanding
    early childhood services, including the recommendations
    put forth in the Governor's Illinois Commission on
    Equitable Early Childhood Education and Care Funding
    report in March 2021, suggest that this State must be
    prepared to meet the growing demand for a qualified
    workforce to deliver these services in the coming years.
        (2) To meet this growing demand and support this
    critical infrastructure, the Illinois higher education
    system must support our incumbent early childhood
    workforce through credential and degree attainment. The
    workforce is overwhelmingly made up of women and women of
    color, and many are balancing full-time employment, family
    needs, and other responsibilities. Often, traditional
    bachelor's degree programs are not accessible to
    place-bound, full-time working parents.
        (3) In this State, there is a history of partnership
    among early childhood providers, stakeholders, and higher
    education to identify workforce needs and strategies to
    help promote access to higher education and degree
    completion among the workforce. Illinois institutions of
    higher education have taken steps to demonstrate a
    commitment to the early childhood field, as well as
    underserved student populations. Hybrid program models,
    cohort program models, and scholarships and financial
    incentives for students help to promote access to many
    early childhood degree programs in this State.
        (4) Over the past 2 decades, this State has attempted
    numerous strategies to develop and support partnerships
    among institutions of higher education that are focused on
    this State's early childhood workforce. Through these
    broader initiatives, as well as many individual local
    partnerships, community colleges and public and private
    universities have worked to implement articulation
    agreements, credit transfer agreements, and program
    delivery models, although not all partnerships have been
    maintained. Such initiatives include all of the following:
            (A) In 2004, this State developed the Associate of
        Arts in Teaching (AAT) degree model to promote
        articulation among 2-year and 4-year institutions of
        higher education. However, with the challenges in
        credit transfer contributing to the limited viability
        and success of the degree model, the Illinois
        Community College Board stopped approving the AAT
        degree model and has worked across the higher
        education system to discontinue these programs.
            (B) In 2013, this State dedicated federal Race to
        the Top funds to create the Early Childhood Educator
        Preparation Program Innovation (EPPI) Grant program.
        Among other goals, the EPPI Grant program aimed to
        foster the creation or further development of
        partnerships between 2-year and 4-year preparation
        programs at institutions of higher education, promote
        articulation and alignment of the curriculum between
        2-year and 4-year programs, and support early
        childhood educator preparation programs in designing a
        curriculum to incorporate new State standards and
        program requirements. While the EPPI Grant program led
        to some effective partnerships that still remain
        intact today, program evaluations found varying levels
        of partnership and that, in many cases, successful
        agreements were contingent upon individual
        relationships or individual leaders within
        institutions.
            (C) Through the Illinois Articulation Initiative
        (IAI), there are 3 early childhood courses approved
        for articulation among participating institutions.
        More than 100 Illinois colleges and universities
        participate in the IAI, though challenges with
        inconsistent participation and recognition do exist.
            (D) Most recently, the creation of
        competency-based education components for early
        childhood education will help ensure that higher
        education and credential programs are designed to
        prepare early childhood educators to demonstrate the
        same critical core competencies. The emphasis on core
        competencies could improve educator preparedness and
        could ease credit transfer and articulation processes
        moving forward.
        These programs and partnerships continue to benefit
    many early childhood education students across this State,
    but, overall, these efforts have not produced adequate
    early childhood degrees to meet the demands in the field.
    These types of initiatives are highly contingent upon
    relationships and partnerships between specific
    institutions and are often impacted if an institution
    experiences turnover or program changes. Furthermore,
    these partnerships often do not address the geographic,
    structural, and economic barriers the incumbent workforce
    often faces in accessing bachelor's degree programs while
    working full-time in the field. These ongoing challenges
    are not new and have been noted in the development of these
    previous efforts.
        (5) As noted in the provisions of Public Act 101-654,
    the General Assembly recognizes the critical role of the
    early childhood workforce and, in response to challenges,
    including staffing shortages and barriers to higher
    education, calls upon the Board of Higher Education to
    better meet the needs of the early childhood workforce.
        (6) The General Assembly encourages this State to
    consider dedicating federal funds for pandemic relief and
    economic recovery efforts to ensure a successful launch of
    the Consortium and the opportunities it creates to meet
    the needs of the early childhood incumbent workforce,
    including student financial support. This State, the
    incumbent workforce, and the children in care will benefit
    as workers enroll, persist, and complete credential and
    degree programs.
 
    Section 10. Definitions. In this Act:
    "Community college" means a public community college that
is included in the definition of "Community Colleges" under
Section 1-2 of the Public Community College Act.
    "Consortium" means the Early Childhood Access Consortium
for Equity.
    "Credit for prior learning" means the evaluation and
assessment of a student's life learning through employment,
training, and experiences outside an academic environment from
which skills that comprise terminal objectives are mastered to
an acceptable degree of proficiency for college credit,
certification, or advanced standing toward further education
or training.
    "Home institution" means the community college or
university at which the student has been admitted.
    "Incumbent workforce" means an individual or a group of
individuals working or having worked in the early childhood
industry, including family child care and center-based care
settings, Preschool for All school-based settings, and Head
Start, that serves children from birth to age 5 and includes
teachers, assistant teachers, directors, family child care
providers, and assistants.
    "Member institutions" means the institutions of higher
education participating in the Consortium.
    "Public university" means the University of Illinois,
Southern Illinois University, Chicago State University,
Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University,
Illinois State University, Northeastern Illinois University,
Northern Illinois University, Western Illinois University, or
any other public university or college, other than a community
college, now or hereafter established or authorized by the
General Assembly.
 
    Section 15. Creation of Consortium; purpose;
administrative support.
    (a) The Board of Higher Education and the Illinois
Community College Board shall create and establish the Early
Childhood Access Consortium for Equity.
    (b) The purpose of the Consortium is to serve the needs of
the incumbent early childhood workforce and the employers of
early childhood educators and to advance racial equity while
meeting the needs of employers by streamlining, coordinating,
and improving the accessibility of degree completion pathways
for upskilling and the sustained expansion of educational
pipelines at Illinois institutions of higher education.
    (c) The Board of Higher Education and the Illinois
Community College Board shall convene the member institutions
by July 1, 2021 or within 60 days after the effective date of
this amendatory Act of the 102nd General Assembly. The Board
of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board
shall provide administrative support for the start up and
operation of the Consortium until a permanent governance
structure is developed and implemented. The Board of Higher
Education and the Illinois Community College Board shall work
with member institutions to establish geographic regional
hubs, including public universities and the proximate
community colleges responsible for serving each regional hub.
 
    Section 20. Membership; functions.
    (a) Membership in the Consortium shall include all public
universities and community colleges in this State that offer
early childhood programs. Membership by private,
not-for-profit universities is optional and conditional on the
acceptance of the terms adopted by the public members, the
related administrative rules, and the provisions of this Act.
For-profit institutions of higher education are not eligible
for membership in the Consortium. Participating institutions
must be accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and
entitled to offer Gateways Credentials.
    (b) The members of the Consortium shall operate jointly
and in cooperation through regional hubs to provide
streamlined paths for students to attain associate degrees,
bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, certificates, and
Gateways Credentials and other licensure endorsements in early
childhood education. The priority shall be to focus on the
incumbent workforce, which includes working adults who require
programs of study that offer flexibility in the times courses
are offered, location, and format. The Consortium shall
cooperate in all of the following:
        (1) Providing course offerings within each regional
    hub in online, hybrid, and in-person formats that are
    available to any student enrolled in a member institution
    in that hub for occasions in which a particular course is
    not available at the student's home institution. In this
    paragraph (1), "not available" may mean the course is not
    offered during a term, at a time, or in a format that works
    best for the student. Courses taken at any member
    institution shall be accepted toward the student's degree
    at any other member institution. Course offerings across
    regional hubs may also be provided by an agreement between
    Consortium members. All course registration shall take
    place in consultation with a student's academic advisor.
        (2) Shared responsibilities through the Consortium and
    within and across regional hubs to expand access for
    students.
        (3) Transfers in accordance with Section 130-10 of the
    Transitions in Education Act.
        (4) The development of standardized methods for
    awarding credit for prior learning.
        (5) The support necessary for student access,
    persistence, and completion shall be provided by the home
    institution, unless otherwise provided by agreement
    between Consortium members.
        (6) Admissions, financial arrangements, registration,
    and advising services shall be functions of the home
    institution but shall be honored across the Consortium.
        (7) Member institutions working with their regional
    pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and early childhood
    employer partners to determine demand throughout the
    region.
        (8) Data-sharing agreements.
        (9) An agreement that students enrolled in associate
    degree programs are encouraged to complete the associate
    degree program prior to transferring to a bachelor's
    degree program.
        (10) Development of other shared agreements and terms
    necessary to implement the Consortium and its
    responsibilities.
    By January 31, 2022, the Consortium shall decide how to
assign college credit for the incumbent workers who have a
Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and for future
workers obtaining a CDA.
    (c) The Consortium may facilitate or implement the
following if deemed beneficial and feasible:
        (1) the creation of an open education resource
    library;
        (2) support and training for program coaches and
    cross-institutional navigators; and
        (3) support for the development, implementation, and
    participation in a statewide registry system through the
    Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral
    Agencies (INCCRRA) to provide tracking and data
    capabilities for students across the system as they attain
    competency through coursework.
 
    Section 25. Advisory committee; membership.
    (a) The Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community
College Board, the State Board of Education, the Department of
Human Services, and the Governor's Office of Early Childhood
Development shall jointly convene a Consortium advisory
committee to provide guidance on the operation of the
Consortium.
    (b) Membership on the advisory committee shall be
comprised of employers and experts appointed by the Board of
Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board, the
Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development, and the
State Board of Education. Membership shall also include all of
the following members:
        (1) An employer from a community-based child care
    provider, appointed by the Governor's Office of Early
    Childhood Development.
        (2) An employer from a for-profit child care provider,
    appointed by the Governor's Office of Early Childhood
    Development.
        (3) An employer from a nonprofit child care provider,
    appointed by the Governor's Office of Early Childhood
    Development.
        (4) A provider of family child care, appointed by the
    Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.
        (5) An employer located in southern Illinois,
    appointed by the Governor's Office of Early Childhood
    Development.
        (6) An employer located in central Illinois, appointed
    by the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.
        (7) At least one member who represents an urban school
    district, appointed by the State Board of Education.
        (8) At least one member who represents a suburban
    school district, appointed by the State Board of
    Education.
        (9) At least one member who represents a rural school
    district, appointed by the State Board of Education.
        (10) At least one member who represents a school
    district in a city with a population of 500,000 or more,
    appointed by the State Board of Education.
        (11) Two early childhood advocates with statewide
    expertise in early childhood workforce issues, appointed
    by the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.
        (12) The Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson and the
    Minority Spokesperson or a designee of the Senate
    Committee on Higher Education.
        (13) The Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson and the
    Minority Spokesperson or a designee of the House Committee
    on Higher Education.
        (14) One member representing the Illinois Community
    College Board, who shall serve as co-chairperson,
    appointed by the Illinois Community College Board.
        (15) One member representing the Board of Higher
    Education, who shall serve as co-chairperson, appointed by
    the Board of Higher Education.
        (16) One member representing the Illinois Student
    Assistance Commission, appointed by the Board of Higher
    Education.
        (17) One member representing the State Board of
    Education, who shall serve as co-chairperson, appointed by
    the State Board of Education.
        (18) One member representing the Governor's Office of
    Early Childhood Development, who shall serve as
    co-chairperson, appointed by the Governor's Office of
    Early Childhood Development.
        (19) One member representing the Department of Human
    Services, who shall serve as co-chairperson, appointed by
    the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.
        (20) One member representing INCCRRA, appointed by the
    Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development.
        (21) One member representing the Department of
    Children and Family Services, appointed by the Governor's
    Office of Early Childhood Development.
        (22) One member representing an organization that
    advocates on behalf of community college trustees,
    appointed by the Illinois Community College Board.
        (23) One member of a union representing child care and
    early childhood providers, appointed by the Governor's
    Office of Early Childhood Development.
        (24) Two members of unions representing higher
    education faculty, appointed by the Board of Higher
    Education.
        (25) A representative from the College of Education of
    an urban public university, appointed by the Board of
    Higher Education.
        (26) A representative from the College of Education of
    a suburban public university, appointed by the Board of
    Higher Education.
        (27) A representative from the College of Education of
    a rural public university, appointed by the Board of
    Higher Education.
        (28) A representative from the College of Education of
    a private university, appointed by the Board of Higher
    Education.
        (29) A representative of an urban community college,
    appointed by the Illinois Community College Board.
        (30) A representative of a suburban community college,
    appointed by the Illinois Community College Board.
        (31) A representative of rural community college,
    appointed by the Illinois Community College Board.
    (c) The advisory committee shall meet quarterly. The
committee meetings shall be open to the public in accordance
with the provisions of the Open Meetings Act.
 
    Section 30. Reporting. The Consortium shall report to the
General Assembly, to the Senate and House Committees with
oversight over higher education, to the Governor, and to the
advisory committee on the progress made by the Consortium. A
report must include, but is not limited to, all of the
following information:
        (1) Student enrollment numbers for the fall and spring
    terms or semesters, retention rates, persistence in
    relevant associate, baccalaureate, and credential
    programs, including demographic data that is disaggregated
    by race, ethnicity, and federal Pell Grant status,
    reported twice per year. Completion numbers and rates,
    employer type, and years worked shall be reported
    annually.
        (2) Tuition rates charged and net prices paid,
    reported both as including and excluding student loans, by
    enrolled members of the incumbent workforce, reported
    annually.
        (3) Outreach plans to recruit and enroll incumbent
    workforce members, reported twice per year.
        (4) Participation of the incumbent workforce in
    outreach programs, which may include participation in an
    informational session, social media engagement, or other
    activities, reported twice per year.
        (5) Student academic and holistic support plans to
    help the enrolled incumbent workforce persist in their
    education, reported annually.
        (6) Evidence of engagement and responsiveness to the
    needs of employer partners, reported annually.
        (7) The Consortium budget including the use of federal
    funds, reported annually.
        (8) Member contributions, including financial,
    physical, or in-kind contributions, provided to the
    Consortium, reported annually.
 
    Section 35. Goals and metrics.
    (a) By July 1, 2021 or within 60 days after the effective
date of this amendatory Act of the 102nd General Assembly, the
Board of Higher Education's Strategic Plan Educator Workforce
subgroup on the early childhood workforce must set goals for
the Consortium for the enrollment, persistence, and completion
of members of the incumbent workforce in associate,
bachelor's, and master's degree programs, Gateways Credentials
in Level 2, 3, or 4, and Professional Educator Licensure by
September 30, 2024. The goals set for the Consortium must be
data informed and include targets for annual enrollment and
persistence.
    (b) Data from the Gateways Registry, March 2020, indicates
that there are 7,670 individuals with an associate degree who
would benefit from progressing to a baccalaureate degree and
20,467 individuals with a high school diploma or some college
who would benefit from progressing to an associate degree. If
the goals cannot be set in accordance with subsection (a), the
goal for the Consortium shall be that by September 30, 2024,
20% of the individuals described in this subsection (b) who do
not have a degree will have enrolled and be persisting toward
or have attained a Gateways Credential in Level 2, 3, or 4 or
an associate degree and, of the individuals who have an
associate degree, will be enrolled and persisting toward or
have attained a baccalaureate degree or will be persisting
toward or have attained a Professional Educator License.
    (c) Student financial aid, including incentives and
stipends, data-sharing, and professional statewide engagement
and marketing campaign and recruitment efforts are critical to
the Consortium's ability to quickly attract and enroll
students into these programs. Navigators, mentors, and
advisors are critical for persistence and completion. If
federal funds are not appropriated for these purposes and the
other purposes of this Section, the Board of Higher Education,
the Illinois Community College Board, the State Board of
Education, the Department of Human Services, and the
Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development, in
consultation with the advisory committee, shall adjust the
initial target metrics appropriately by adopting challenging
goals that may be attainable with less public investment.
    (d) The Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community
College Board, the State Board of Education, the Department of
Human Services, and the Governor's Office of Early Childhood
Development, in consultation with the advisory committee,
shall determine new metrics and goals for the Consortium as
they relate to the remaining and future early childhood
workforce, to be instituted after the close of the 2024-2025
academic year and going forward. Metrics must take into
consideration that the pipeline depends on sustained,
increased student enrollment and completion rates at the
associate degree level if this State aims to continue with
sustained, increased student enrollment and completion at the
bachelor's degree level.
 
    Section 40. Affordability. The institutions participating
in the Consortium and the advisory committee shall work to
ensure that students have the most affordable options for
advancing through and attaining their degree or credentials.
 
    Section 90. Rules. The Board of Higher Education and the
Illinois Community College Board may adopt any rules necessary
to administer and implement this Act.
 
    Section 500. The Transitions in Education Act is amended
by adding Section 130-10 as follows:
 
    (110 ILCS 180/130-10 new)
    Sec. 130-10. Gateway Credentials; associate degree.
    (a) A community college student who earns the Department
of Human Services's Gateways ECE Credential Level 4 as part of
an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in early
childhood education that is consistent with the degree
requirements established by the Illinois Community College
Board and the Board of Higher Education, as appropriate, is
deemed eligible for transfer into an early childhood education
baccalaureate program at a public university if the student
meets all of the requirements of the AAS degree program, is
transferring from a program entitled to offer the Gateways ECE
Credential Level 4, and earns a minimum grade point average of
a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale.
    (b) Recognizing that the AAS degree and other associate
degrees provide important pathways into the early childhood
education profession and notwithstanding any other provision
of law to the contrary, a public university shall grant junior
level status in an early childhood education program to any
community college student who has graduated from an Illinois
community college with an Associate of Applied Science degree
in early childhood education. A public university may not
require students transferring pursuant to this Section to
repeat courses taken and completed successfully at the
community college and applied toward the associate degree
granted pursuant to subsection (a) of this Section. All
courses completed successfully in the AAS degree program must
count toward baccalaureate degree completion. Students
entering with an AAS may not be required to take a total number
of credits greater than those students first starting in a
baccalaureate degree program. This includes any courses in
which credit for prior learning was used to determine course
equivalency and credit was awarded by the evaluating
institution. Additional coursework may be required if a
student is seeking to add one or more endorsements to the
student's Illinois Professional Educator License.
 
    Section 999. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
becoming law.

Effective Date: 7/28/2021