Review the information below to help you prepare for your application to ExceleRate Illinois through the Licensed Family Child Care (FCC) pathway. 

  •  All Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) licensed family child care programs are recognized at the ExceleRate Licensed Circle of Quality, which indicates the program holds a valid and current IDCFS issued license. No application is needed for the Licensed Circle of Quality.  
  • Programs must prepare for and apply to ExceleRate Illinois to be considered for a Circle of Quality above the Licensed Circle of Quality and must be IDCFS licensed for a minimum of one full year. 
  • Programs must work with their licensing representative to clear substantiated violations prior to application. Programs may verify violations by going to the IDCFS Sunshine (Illinois Daycare License search) website or calling the IDCFS information line at (877) 746-0829.


The Licensed Family Child Care ExceleRate Illinois Overview Chart (573 KB) is available.

All FCC providers who are interested in applying for a Circle of Quality will be required to take the Licensed Family Child Care ExceleRate Orientation. Please use the Required Training Grid (497 KB)  (available in Spanish (485 KB) ) to review what trainings are required at each Circle of Quality.  If you have questions about required training email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

What can Licensed Family Child Care do to prepare for the application process? Check out these helpful tips (814 KB) . Helpful tips also available in Spanish (821 KB) .


There are two paths to reaching a 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 choose the assessment path, download and print the Gold Circle of Quality Steps to Apply (526 KB)  or the Getting Ready for the Silver Circle of Quality (490 KB)   (Available in Spanish) (488 KB) document to begin your process. As part of this process you will need to conduct a self-assessment using approved assessment tool(s) for your site as well as an overall program self-assessment using the Business Administration Scale 2nd edition (BAS).

Getting Ready for the Silver Circle of Quality (490 KB) ( Available in Spanish (488 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.

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