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 Child Care Center Standards Overview Chart (345 KB)

What can Licensed Child Care Centers do to prepare for the application process? Check out these helpful tips!

The program administrator should complete the ExceleRate Illinois Orientation for licensed child care programs to learn the details of participation in ExceleRate. The administrator should also contact a Quality or Infant Toddler Specialist at your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) for free technical assistance and consultation services in advance of application to ExceleRate.

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 of each individual Accreditation process.

  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). 

The Getting Ready for the Silver Circle of Quality checklist (432 KB)  should be used as a working document, along with the ExceleRate Illinois  Child Care Center Standards Overview Chart (345 KB) 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.  

Upon application to ExceleRate, a state-approved assessor will conduct assessments using ECERS-3, ITERS-R, SACERS-U, and PAS 2nd Edition 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 state approved assessor will also verify three PAS subscales as chosen by the program on the application (Child Assessment, & Family Partnerships, cannot be chosen for verification as they are covered in other ExceleRate standards).  The program should have an organized Program Portfolio prepared for on-site review as part of the PAS assessment visit. Please note: PAS assessment at Silver is for quality improvement purposes only.   



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. Working in coordination with a CCR&R Quality or Infant Toddler Specialist prior to application/renewal at Silver is required. Please reach out to your CCR&R for assistance. 

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
- Signed Consultation Agreement with a CCR&R specialist working on self-assessment and CQIP development
- Maintaining administrator & staff qualification requirements. If the program is not meeting Credential requirements, CQIP must be shown of work accomplished over the previous 12 months.  This includes specific training/coursework taken to meet applicable Credential requirements. Progress since the last CQIP must be shown
- Submission of a Continuous Quality Improvement Plan (CQIP) on Standards 1A, 1C, 3A (at a minimum). Progress must be shown each year.
- Additional items as needed


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