University of Illinois Urbana‑Champaign


Here you will find answers to some of the most common questions encountered by IECAM staff.

What is an asset map?

An asset map provides an inventory of the resources of a community to help identify strengths and challenges. Asset maps help stakeholders design and coordinate approaches to address their area’s unique needs.

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What are IECAM's data sources?

Data on IECAM come from a variety of sources including state agencies such as the Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois State Board of Education as well as the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and IPUMS USA. In short, IECAM brings together early childhood and related demographic data collected by other agencies.

How do I find the sources of the data on IECAM?

For data on the IECAM database, sources are listed in our data description pages, which are conveniently linked in the “Early Childhood Service Types” and “Demographics” dropdowns on the database. Data sources can also be found on specific curated maps, charts, and data pages and tools, in the “notes” sections of select spreadsheets, and on feature maps and charts. If you need assistance locating a data source, let us know. 

What data is available on IECAM and how often is that data updated?

IECAM demographic and service data are updated on a yearly basis at various times during the year depending on the data source. Note that the COVID pandemic has disrupted and delayed data reporting for many state and local agencies, so new data may not appear at their usual times during the year.

I have noticed that some topics are not found in the online database search. What additional types of data are available?

IECAM presents some data outside the online database. This data can be found using the following links:

Do geographic regions change over time?

Yes! While state and county borders do not change, every year there are a number of municipalities, townships, and school districts that are created, eliminated, merged, or split, or that change their name. And every 10 years, the district maps change for the state legislature and U.S. Congress.

In the online database, search results present data for whatever areas exist, and only the areas that exist, in a selected year. Therefore, if you’re searching by municipality for 2020 and a municipality was incorporated only in 2021, you will not find that municipality in the 2020 data search. 

Where can I find data on Chicago's early care and education programs?

The IECAM searchable database is the quickest way to access IECAM’s core demographic and service data for a wide variety of regions. However, for more detailed information, we recommend checking out "Chicago Community Area Profiles" found on the Illinois Action for Children website linked below.

Are the different sections of the database search results for poverty cumulative? Or, does each figure represent a unique set?

The poverty data is cumulative. The column headings read 0–100% Federal Poverty Level (FPL), 0–200% Federal Poverty Level (FPL), etc.

Does IECAM provide funding stream information for early care and education services in Illinois?

At present, IECAM does not include funding amounts for early care and education services in Illinois. For more information, please see the links below: 

Does IECAM provide notes regarding unusual year-to-year drops in capacity numbers?

No, IECAM generally lets the data speak for itself. This allows the user the freedom to ask questions and consider multiple explanations for changes.

Why doesn't IECAM have data for the current year?

IECAM works closely with state agencies to update early care and education data. Generally, IECAM requests data near the end of the year (after the school year is completed) and updates the database as the information is received and processed. For example, when state agencies submitted data for the 2021-2022 school year, the IECAM team processed and then updated most of the database by early 2023. For demographic data, the Census Bureau releases its final and complete data for a given year between one and two years (depending on the geographic region) after the target year. For example, 2021 demographic data appeared in the spring of 2023.

Can I use ROE region and county interchangeably?

For the most part, no. A majority of ISBE regions (ROEs) are made up of several counties grouped together. However, there are 11 ROEs that are just one county: DeKalb (16), DuPage (19), Kane (31), Lake (34), Madison (41), McHenry (44), Peoria (48), Rock Island (49), St. Clair (50), Vermilion (54), and Will (56). Cook County is served by four areas: Chicago and three intermediate service areas (ISCs) for North Cook, West Cook, and South Cook, which are made up of school districts in those areas. Data for these four areas are the same for the Birth to Five Councils for Cook County.

How are the ROE regions and county reports different from the Birth to Five Council regions? What geographic area should I use?

Birth to Five Councils are made up of groups of elementary and unit school districts. All data IECAM provides for Birth to Five Councils are summations of the data for those districts. Data for ROEs will differ somewhat from the data for their corresponding Birth to Five Council because ROEs are groupings of counties. However, for Cook County, the four areas (Chicago, North Cook, West Cook, and South Cook) are the same for both ROEs and Birth to Five Councils. If you are doing work for Birth to Five Councils, use those versions of the regional reports.

What is the difference between funded capacity and actual capacity? Does IECAM have enrollment data?

In general, IECAM reports the number of children that any given program or service is funded to serve, not how many children are actually served. The terminology for this varies from “proposed capacity” for Preschool for All and Prevention Initiative data, “proposed capacity” or “licensed capacity” for most child care data, to “funded enrollment” for Head Start programs. There are a few exceptions, such as PFA data for Chicago, which report actual enrollment numbers. Data for IDHS home visiting programs (HFI and PTS) are the total number of children served. Data for the IDHS early intervention program are the averages of the monthly enrollment for state fiscal years