The Silver Circle of Quality recognizes completion of a rigorous self-assessment and implementation of a continuous quality improvement process, as verified by a state-approved assessor.  Silver Circle programs meet or exceed specific quality benchmarks on learning environment and instructional quality, along with selected program administrative standards; staff qualifications; and professional development. Programs must be IDCFS licensed.  

These standard and evidence requirements are detailed on the Silver Circle of Quality chart (275 KB)

What can Licensed Child Care Centers do to prepare for the application process? Check out these helpful tips! You can also connect with a Quality Specialist at your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) for free technical assistance and consultation services.

There are two paths to reaching the Silver Circle of Quality

  1. The Accreditation Path - If you choose this path you are able to use your accreditation to show evidence for many of the ExceleRate Illinois standards. Please review the crosswalk summary for details and the additional requirements for alignment with ExceleRate Illinois.

  2. The Assessment Path - If you chose the assessment path as part of this process you will need to conduct a self-assessment using approved assessment tool(s) for every classroom, as well as an overall program self-assessment using the Program Administration Scale (PAS). 

Getting Ready for the Silver Circle of Quality (449 KB) - Working towards and/or maintaining an ExceleRate Illinois Circle of Quality is a process with many parts. To assist programs in achieving their goal, this checklist is provided to be used as a working document- along with the ExceleRate Illinois Silver Circle of Quality Standards - to help track the progress.  

Training is required at the Silver Circle of Quality, download a Silver Training Tracker (317 KB) to help track your programs training completion toward the Silver Circle of Quality.  

The verification process for the Silver Circle of Quality is a 2 part process. Upon application to ExceleRate, a state-approved assessor will conduct Part 1 of the verification visit. The program will be assigned a date/time for Part 1 of the verification to occur.

Part 1 of the visit includes on-site review of your classroom self-assessments/CQIP and review of all documentation for ExceleRate standards. A state-approved assessor will also verify three PAS subscales as chosen by the program on the application. All ExceleRate documentation should be gathered in an organized Program Portfolio (see the Steps to Apply document for what must be included) for on-site review during Part 1 of the verification visit.

Another state-approved assessor will then conduct Part 2 of the verification.
The program will be given a three week window in which Part 2 of the verification will occur.
Part 2 of the verification includes conducting classroom assessments using ECERS-3, ITERS-R, SACERS-U in 1/3 of your classrooms, including one classroom per age group. For licensed child care centers that have child care classrooms with Preschool for All or Head Start services provided within them (collaboration classrooms), these classrooms will be included in the random selection of classrooms for assessment. For licensed child care centers that have Preschool for All or Head Start stand-alone classrooms (Preschool for All or Head Start services only), these classrooms will not be included in the random selection of classrooms. (Personal Care Routines and Parent & Staff subscales for the Environment Rating Scale (ERS) will not be scored in the ExceleRate assessment process).



A program can apply for the Silver Circle of Quality when the standards have been met and the program feels they are ready for their verification visit.

Gateways Credentials (i.e. ECE Credential Levels 3-5, Infant Toddler Credential Levels 3-5 and the Illinois Director Credential Levels I-III) meet the following ExceleRate Illinois training requirements (across all circles of quality):

•    Finding a Curriculum that Works for You
•    Introduction to Developmental Screening Tools
•    Fundamentals of Child Assessment
•    Welcoming Each & Every Child
•    Family and Community: Partners in Learning
•    An Introduction to Transitions
•    Understanding and Planning for Continuous Quality Improvement
•    Basics of Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Practice
•    Creating Individual Professional Development Plans

Once your application has been received and documentation approved, an on-site assessment by a state-approved assessor will be scheduled if required.

Programs are awarded the Silver Circle of Quality for a period of 3 years.

An appeal process has been established for programs found ineligible at the Silver Circle of Quality.

Annual reports are required to maintain eligibility and need to include:

- License in good standing
- Current accreditation certificate if applicable
- Maintaining staff qualification requirements
- Submission of a Continuous Quality Improvement Plan (CQIP)
- Additional items as needed


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