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Frequently Asked Questions

What type of a degree or certificate do I need to have to begin working in an early childhood program?

Although there are mandated Illinois DCFS minimum standards for early childhood program staff, individual programs can and do require specific courses or degrees of employees in their program. Most ECE centers in Illinois are now requiring Illinois Gateways to Opportunities Credentials at different levels for assistant teachers, lead teachers, and program directors.

In the Lake County area, where there is a prevalence of corporate-owned-and-based childcare centers, most programs prefer to hire lead teachers of young children who have a minimum of an associate's degree in early childhood education. Before-and-after school and school-age summer programs often hire individuals with early childhood, elementary education or recreation coursework. Center directors most often have a minimum of an Associate's degree which includes 21 credit hours (including an Administration of ECE Programs course) of early childhood courses, though the trend is for most program directors to possess a bachelor's degree in child development or early childhood education.

Do I have to enroll for the A.A.S. program of 60 credit hours to become an early childhood education student?

No. We currently have five certificate programs (Administration and Leadership in ECE, Infant/Toddler Level II and III, Early Childhood Level II and III) that require 18-36 credit hours.

If I earn one of the certificates in early childhood, do those courses count toward an A.A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education?

Yes, in most cases, all of the courses you complete toward one of the early childhood certificates will count toward the course credit hours required for the A.A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education.