Professional Development

Through its professional development programs, the Collaboration fosters a community-wide commitment to high-quality early learning and care programs in Oak Park.

at the annual Symposium

Recent Accomplishments

384 early childhood teachers, developmental therapists, teaching assistants, directors, and early elementary school teachers attended 30 workshops at the Collaboration’s 14th Annual Symposium, “Here and Now: Respecting Childhood,” on February 25th, 2017.

The Symposium provided play stations for attendees to learn and walk out with hands-on activities that they could implement on Monday morning when they re-entered their classrooms.

Each year the Symposium's attendance grows from the year before!
112 early learning professionals attended 20 workshops on “Project Social-Emotional: Using Project-Based Learning to Promote Social Emotional Competence.” Attendees earned 2 hours of professional development credit for each workshop.

43 early childhood providers attended one or more intervention-specific trainings. The following trainings were offered: Social-Emotional/Behavioral Development: The Top 5 Things Children Wish Their Early Childhood Teachers Knew; Sensory Integration and Its Impact on Social-Emotional Development; Moving From What’s Wrong with This Kid to What’s Happened to This Kid: Effective Responses When You Recognize Trauma in Your Classroom, and You Don’t Have to Be a Therapist to be Therapeutic.
200 hours of coaching on integrating social-emotional learning objectives into the curriculum using a project-based learning approach were provided at 6 child care centers and 4 child care homes.


A signature event of the Collaboration, each February our annual Symposium provides an arena for educators, caregivers, parents, and anyone who works with young children to gain knowledge, perspective and practical skills in promoting positive learning experiences. Designed to be interactive and to promote networking amongst attendees, the Symposium includes a keynote address by a noted authority on that year's theme and it offers a wide range of workshops.

More information, including presentation materials and handouts from past Symposiums, can be found here.

Directors Round Table

Strong programs need strong leaders. The Collaboration convenes the Directors Round Table to foster a professional community that supports quality improvement in child care centers and preschools. Directors from a wide range of early childhood programs participate in facilitated meetings to share concerns, engage in problem-solving, and engage in peer learning opportunities and training on topics of mutual interest. The Directors Round Table meets six times per year.

Family Child Care Providers Round Table

Family child care providers are a vital component of the early childhood system of programs and services. The Collaboration convenes the Family Child Care providers Round Table to foster a professional community that supports each other and quality improvement in family child care settings. Family child care providers engage in problem-solving, and in peer learning opportunities and training topics of mutual interest and to support their engagement in the Illinois ExceleRate Quality Rating system.

Professional Development Advising

Strong programs need committed staff. The Collaboration provides group and individual advising and guidance to early childhood staff interested in furthering their education and training. This includes support in accessing the Illinois Gateways Scholarship Program, Illinois Professional Development Funds, Great Start and the Illinois Career Lattice.

The Collaboration works with directors of early childhood care and education programs to support the development of a professional development planning process. The Collaboration connects early learning staff at child care centers, preschools, family child care homes and other early learning providers to the Illinois Professional Development Advising Program.

Contact the Collaboration for more information.


The Collaboration provides a series of workshops each year to Oak Park and River Forest early childhood care and education programs. Topics for the series have included Developmentally Appropriate Practices, Play, Early Literacy and Early Math Skills, Introduction to ExceleRate Illinois, and Social-Emotional Development.

ExceleRate Illinois (Illinois’s quality rating system for early learning programs)

ExceleRate Illinois is a statewide quality rating and improvement system designed to make continuous quality improvement an everyday priority among early learning providers. The program establishes standards for helping infants, toddlers and preschool age children develop intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally. It provides a framework for early learning professionals to identify opportunities for improvement, increase their skills and take steps to make positive changes. Early learning programs are awarded quality ratings of green, bronze, silver and gold to provide parents with an objective way to make quality a part of their decision making when selecting a program for their children. The ratings are broadly publicized.

The Collaboration provides training, coaching and technical assistance to early childhood programs in Oak Park and River Forest to support their engagement in ExceleRate.

Professional Development Resources

The Collaboration has compiled a list of early childhood professional development websites. View or download curricula, research, information for families with special needs, or find training opportunities.

Visit the Professional Development Resource Library.

Professional Development & Training Opportunities:
Action for Children (AFC) Training Calendar

Action for Children (AFC) Training Stipends

Illinois Gateways, I Learning
1. Gateways Registry approved training
2. DCFS Licensing Required Training
3. CCAP Provider Required Training
4. ExceleRate Illinois Approved Training
5. SAYD Credential Level 1 Training
6. ECE Credential Level 1 Training
7. Early Math Matters
8. Additional Training (not managed by Gateways)

Illinois Training Calendar (click “search” if you don’t know what to filter for)

StarNet Region V

TownSquare (May count for contact hours and FCC credential requirements)