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EIU Child Care Resource and Referral

Parent & Family Services


Families seeking child care may complete an on-line referral or call the child care referral toll-free number and speak to a child care specialist who will offer comprehensive consumer education on:

  • Child care options
  • Child development information
  • Licensing regulations
  • Quality indicators: ExceleRate Illinois
  • Financial assistance

ExceleRate Illinois Informational Page and Video for Families

Find an Early Learning Program at ExceleRate IL Search

What types of child care options are available?

  • Family Child Care - Some families choose for their child to be cared for in a home-like setting.  Family child care providers fulfill this need by offering care for children in their homes.
  • Licensed Family Child Care providers* may care for up to eight children (including their own), or up to 12 children with an assistant. 
  • Licensed Family Child Care Group Home providers* may care for up to 16 children (including their own) with the help of a full-time assistant. 
  • License-Exempt Family Child Care providers (such as Family, Friend and Neighbor care) may care for three or fewer children (including their own), or children from one family. 

*Licensed family child care providers and licensed family child care group home providers must meet Illinois Department of Children and Family Services standards for health and safety including child to staff ratios and required space per child. 

  • Child Care Centers & Programs Child Care Centers provide care for groups of children outside of a residential setting.  Children are usually grouped by age.  Types of centers include child care, Early Head Start/Head Start, State pre-kindergarten, preschools, school-age programs, and summer programs. 
  • License-Exempt Child Care Centers are also recognized by Illinois, such as those serving children 3 years and older and operated by public or private elementary or secondary schools, faith-based organizations, institutions of higher education of other accredited schools registered with the Illinois State Board of Education.  Since these settings are not licensed they are not held to standards for health and safety, staff to child ratios or maximum group size set by DCFS.
  • Licensed Child Care Centers must meet the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) standards for health and safety including child care to staff ratios and required space per child.  For licensed centers, the following chart of staff to child ratios and maximum group sizes are set by DCFS.                                              

Age of Children

Child Ratio

Maximum Group Size

Infants (6 weeks to 14 months)

1 to 4


Toddlers (15 through 23 months)

1 to 5


Two Years

1 to 8


Three Years

1 to 10


Four Years

1 to 10


Five Years (preschool)

1 to 20


School-Age (Kindergarten to present)

1 to 20



What to look for in your search for quality child care:

Play & Learn

  • Quality child care offers many opportunities for all children to play each day.  Counting, reading skills and problem-solving are just a few things learned through play.   
    • Here’s a Tip: Look for a provider who focuses on all aspects of your child’s development including language, social, emotional, physical and cognitive. 


  • There are different caregiver qualifications for different child care settings.  Training, education, experience, and credentials prepare a child care provider to meet your child’s development needs.  
    • Here’s a Tip: Request a provider’s qualifications and references to learn more about their child care experience.  

Positive Interactions

  • A quality child care provider guides children, helping them to get along with others in caring positive ways, and encourages you to be involved as well.  
    • Here’s a Tip: Look for a provider who is enthusiastic, attentive and encouraging. 

Program Quality

  • Child Care Centers can participate in ExceleRate Illinois (QRIS) or national accreditation. Licensed family/ group child care homes and license-exempt child care providers can participate in Quality Counts QRS.  
    • Here’s a Tip: Ask the provider if their program has a Quality Counts QRS,  ExceleRate Illinois (QRIS) certification or is accredited.


  • A quality child care environment is safe, clean, and provides children with many learning opportunities.  
    • Here's a Tip:  Look for a setting where the children are supervised at all times, nutritious meals and snacks are served and where toys and learning activities are based on the age of the child.  

Related Pages

Contact Information


3018 Ninth Street Hall
Fax: 217-581-7084


Monday - Friday: 8:00 -4:30pm

Summer Hours

Monday-Thursday 7:45am-4:00pm
Mon.-Thurs.: 4-4:30pm By Appt. Only
Friday: 7:30am-12:00pm

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