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There is a pressing need to streamline, coordinate, and improve accessibility of degree completion pathways. Created by the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity Act (PA 102-0174) and signed into law on July 28, 2021, the purpose of the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) 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.
Consortium membership is statutorily required for all community colleges that offer gateways entitled early childhood programs in Illinois. As a part of this effort, every community college is being provided with resources to meet its obligations under consortium membership and the mandates of the law. The goal is to streamline paths to degrees, licenses, and credentials to members of the early childhood incumbent workforce in the field of early childhood (EC) education. Funds tied to this implementation plan are supplementing the mandate of participation.
The consortium is required to offer shared online courses to assist in retention and completion. ILCCO provides the mechanism to achieve this requirement for community colleges. Colleges can use the Online Course Exchange (OCE) to achieve this end.
More information on the ECACE grant program for community colleges can be found at http://www2.iccb.org/iccb/grant-opportunities/.