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Highland’s Early Childhood Education program receives childcare recognition

Highland Community College’s Early Childhood Education program has been approved as an entitled institution for the Gateways to Opportunity Family Childhood Credential for Levels 2, 3, and 4 from the Gateways to Opportunity Illinois Development System.

As an entitled institution, students at HCC have the opportunity to qualify for state-recognized credentials as they take courses or complete a degree. The college is among a select group of institutions in Illinois to receive this credential. The credentials reflect multiple professional standards, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards (IPTS). The faculty at Highland has worked diligently to align their courses with the Gateways to Opportunity competencies.

The Family Child Care (FCC) credential is for professionals working as family childcare providers that provide care and education for children between the ages of birth and 12 years in their homes.

“By obtaining entitlement, Highland’s Early Childhood Education program demonstrates a commitment to both the FCC field and to students that are FCC providers or considering the field,” said Melissa Johnson, coordinator, Early Childhood Education. “We are committed to educating the public about the profession and recognizing providers as professionals. For those individuals that obtain the FCC credential, it not only demonstrates their commitment to the field but will allow them to increase their Circles of Quality rating through the ExceleRate Illinois – the statewide quality rating and improvement system.”

The credential entitles Highland to further goals for graduating students by preparing them to successfully operate their own family child care business. Gateways to Opportunity, Illinois Professional Development System, is designed to provide guidance, support, and recognition to practitioners who serve children and families. It is administered by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resources & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) on behalf of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).

In a time when Early Childhood Education is defining itself as a field that promotes professional development, Highland Community College has become entitled to help further this goal by graduating students ready to provide quality care and education to these young children in Illinois.

For more information on the Early Childhood Education program at Highland Community College, visit or contact Melissa Johnson at 815-599-3484.