University of Illinois Urbana‑Champaign

Terms and Acronyms

An A to Z explanation of the terms and acronyms you may encounter when interacting with data found on IECAM.

A picture of an index file

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ACF (Administration for Children and Families) - Federal

The ACF promotes the economic and social well-being of families, children, youth, individuals and communities with funding, strategic partnerships, guidance, training and technical assistance.

ACS (American Community Survey)

The American Community Survey (ACS) helps local officials, community leaders, and businesses understand the changes taking place in their communities. Through the ACS, we know more about demographics, jobs and occupations, educational attainment, veterans, whether people own or rent their homes, and other topics. The ACS is comparable to the 10-year census, but it is ongoing, where randomly selected addresses are sampled to collect up-to-date, annual statistics.

ACYF (Administration on Children, Youth and Families) - Federal

This is an office of the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) that oversees major federal programs that provide financial assistance to states, community-based organizations, and academic institutions to provide services, carry out research and demonstration activities, and manage training, technical assistance and information dissemination.

All Kids

All Kids is Illinois’ program for children who need comprehensive, affordable health insurance, regardless of immigration status or health condition. The program offers many Illinois children comprehensive healthcare that includes doctors visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care and medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma inhalers.

AOK Networks (Our Kids Early Childhood Networks)

All Our Kids Early Childhood Networks (AOK Networks) are community-based collaborations that promote healthy pregnancies and the positive growth and development of all children birth to five and their parents/caregivers by assuring a well-coordinated, easily-accessible, equitable and just system of services and supports that engages parents as partners in making the system work for them.

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CBO (Community-Based Organization)

CBOs are organizations that address needs at the community scale, and are typically governed and directed by local residents. Many early childhood care and education organizations that are not governed by state (e.g. Preschool For All) or federal agencies (e.g. Head Start) are considered CBOs.

CCAs (Chicago Community Areas)

The city of Chicago is divided into 77 Chicago Community Areas (CCAs) for statistical and planning purposes. This allows the comparison across time (especially across decennial censuses) of demographic characteristics in areas with stable boundaries. Other small areas, such as wards (with politically changing boundaries) and neighborhoods (with imprecise, shifting boundaries), do not serve this purpose.

CCAP (Child Care Assistance Program)

This program works with local communities to provide low-income families access to affordable, quality child care. The program serves children younger than age 13 as well as children younger than 19 who are physically and/or mentally incapable of self-care or under court supervision. IDHS and local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies work together to help families find the information and resources needed to participate in the program.

CCMS (Child Care Management System)

This term typically refers to a software system that helps to manage and maintain information on children and families for a particular program, service, or agency. Individual child care centers, as well as large state and federal agencies, may use a CCMS.

CCR&R (Child Care Resource and Referral)

These agencies help families find child care and may provide professional development to early childhood care and education providers. The Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) is the source of child care data found on IECAM.

  • INCCRRA Programs (Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies)

CFC (Child and Family Connections)

These are the regional intake agencies for children and families to enter the Illinois early intervention system. There are 25 CFCs in the state, each responsible for a specific geographic area.

Child Find

This is a component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that requires states to have a comprehensive system to locate, identify, and refer as early as possible all people with disabilities, birth to age 21, for early intervention or special education services.

CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program)

This program provides no-cost or low-cost health coverage for eligible children in Illinois.

CPRD (Center for Prevention Research and Development)

CPS (Chicago Public Schools)

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DCFS (Illinois Department of Children and Family Services)

This department protects children who are reported to be abused or neglected. It also works to increase their families’ capacity to safely care for them; provides for the well-being of children in their care; provides appropriate, permanent families as quickly as possible for those children who cannot safely return home; supports early intervention and child abuse prevention activities; and works in partnerships with communities to fulfill their mission.

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ECBG (Early Childhood Block Grant)

ECE (early childhood education)

This is an acronym for "early childhood education" or "early care and education" and is one of several terms used by the early childhood community to describe services to our youngest and their families. Other terms may include early childhood education, early learning, early care and learning. The early childhood community serves children through public and private preschool, child care, and home visiting.

EI (early intervention)

This is a statewide Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) program that provides supports and services for families to help their children under age 3 meet developmental milestones. The EI program in Illinois is a component of the Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part C of IDEA), a federal grant program that assists states in operating a comprehensive statewide program of early intervention services for this age group.

ExceleRate Illinois

This is a statewide quality recognition 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. The program awards four Circle of Quality designations: Licensed, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. IECAM provides data on licensed childcare centers and family childcare homes with these designations.

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Family child care homes

Family child care provides care for groups of children in a homelike setting. Licensed family child care may care for up to eight children (including their own), or for up to 12 children with an assistant. License-exempt family child care (such as family, friend, and neighbor care) may care for three or fewer children (including their own), or children from one family. This care can be offered in the caregiver’s home or in the child’s home. Source of definition: IDHS

FFN care (family, friend, and neighbor care)

This is care provided in the child’s or caregiver’s home by a person who is a relative, friend, or neighbor, or a babysitter or nanny. These providers are typically exempt from licensing and regulations.

FPL (federal poverty level)

Each January, the U.S. Census Bureau issues a set of income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. Then, later in January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issues poverty guidelines. In a nutshell, these poverty guidelines are a simplified version of the Federal poverty level (FPL) used for administrative purposes, such as determining financial eligibility for certain programs. Poverty data on IECAM is presented at multiple percentage levels and reports the number of children who are living in families below a certain percentage of the FPL for the size of their families.   

Funded enrollment

This refers to the number of children a program is funded to serve at any one time. IECAM reports Head Start and Early Head Start numbers using this measure.

FY (fiscal year)

IECAM reports early childhood service and care data for the fiscal year (FY) starting on July 1 and ending on June 30. Some data may indicate a “Q” referring to one of 4 three-month quarters beginning on July 1 (Q1). Note that a fiscal year (FY) corresponds to the last half of a school year. So, FY2021 covers the 2020–2021 school year. IECAM reports demographic data from the U.S. Census and state agencies (such as IDPH) by the calendar year starting on January 1 and ending on December 31.

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GIS (Geographic Information Systems)

GIS are advanced mapping practices that store, maintain, and display data geographically. GIS help to arrange data into layers for geographic placement and visual comparison with other data types.

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HS/EHS (Head Start and Early Head Start)

Head Start and Early Head Start (HS/EHS) are federally funded programs serving low-income families with children birth to age 5 as well as pregnant women. Federal funding flows directly to local grantees and delegate agencies that oversee Head Start programming in communities. Head Start and Early Head Start data can be found on the IECAM online database.

HFI (Healthy Families Illinois)

This is an Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) program that assists expectant and new parents identified as having a significant risk for child abuse/neglect to reduce that risk through intensive home visiting services.


The McKinney-Vento Act defines homelessness as those who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

Home visiting

Early childhood home visiting is a service delivery strategy that connects new and expectant parents with a designated support person—often a trained nurse, social worker, or early childhood specialist—to meet in their home or another preferred location (definition from National Home Visiting Resource Center). Home visiting programs in Illinois include

  1. IDHS home visiting programs that are operated by community-based service providers in communities throughout the state.
  2. The Prevention Initiative (PI) program funded by the Illinois State Board of Education via the Early Childhood Block Grant. These funds are then distributed to eligible applicants, including school districts, social service agencies, and other entities, on a competitive basis.
  3. Early Head Start (EHS) administered by the Office of Head Start; Administration for Children and Families (ACF).
  4. Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV), a federally funded home visiting program.

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IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

This is a federal law that makes available a free, appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children. Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth through age 2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3–21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B.

  • Learn About IDEA on the U.S. Department of Education website

IDHS (Illinois Department of Human Services)

This department was created in 1997 to provide Illinois' residents with streamlined access to integrated services, especially those who are striving to move from welfare to work and economic independence, and others who face multiple challenges to self-sufficiency. IECAM hosts data on IDHS home visiting programs, the IDHS early intervention program, and the IDHS Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).

IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health)

The mission of IDPH is to protect the health and wellness of the people of Illinois through prevention, health promotion, regulation, and the control of disease and injury.

  • Learn About IDPH on the Illinois Department of Public Health website.

IEP (Individualized Education Plan)

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a plan that describes the special education instruction, supports, and services for students age 3 and older with disabilities are legally entitled to receive. An IEP is developed by school staff members, the student’s parents/guardians, and the student (when appropriate). The required contents of an IEP are determined by the student’s needs and age as well as federal and state laws. Source of definition: ISBE. 

IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan)

An Individualized Family Service Plan (FSP) documents and guides the early intervention services children birth through age 2 and their families receive. The IFSP is the vehicle through which effective early intervention is implemented in accordance with Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It contains information about the services necessary to facilitate a child’s development and enhance the family’s capacity to facilitate the child’s development. 

ILHSA (Illinois Head Start Association)

INCCRRA (Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies)

This is a statewide organization that, in partnership with its 16 local Child Care Resources and Referral (CCR&R) agencies, is a recognized leader, catalyst, and resource for making high-quality, affordable early care and education and school-age care options available for children and families. INCCRRA is the source of child care data found on IECAM.

Indicated for abuse and neglect

Indicated” means officials have sufficient credible evidence of abuse or neglect.

IPUMS (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series)

This is the world’s largest individual-level population database. There are two microdata samples—one for the United States (IPUMS-USA) and one for international (IPUMS-International) census records. The records are converted into a consistent format and made available to researchers through a web-based data system.

ISBE (Illinois State Board of Education)

This board administers public education in the state of Illinois. The board consists of nine members appointed by the governor with the consent of the Illinois Senate. ISBE’s mission is to provide leadership and resources to achieve excellence across all Illinois school districts through engaging stakeholders in formulating and advocating for policies that enhance education, empower districts, and ensure equitable outcomes for all students. IECAM hosts a wide range of ISBE data, including Preschool for All (PFA), PFA-Expansion, Prevention Initiative, and the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS).

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KIDS (Kindergarten Individual Development Survey)

This is a research-based observational assessment tool for teachers to document and reflect on the learning, development, and readiness of all children in kindergarten.

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LCCC (licensed child care centers)

These centers set the minimum health, safety, and program standards that need to be met to be legally operating. This includes, but is not limited to, fire/tornado drills, group sizes, health and safety (immunizations/ handwashing/reporting accidents), food prep and nutrition, physical space, and record keeping.

LexCCC (license-exempt child care centers)

These centers are those that can legally operate without a license. This includes relatives (who are not paid), nannies (if caring for the child(ren) in the home of the family), public recreation programs, and after-school programs or organizations. 

LFCC (licensed family child care homes)

Family child care means there is regular care, protection, and supervision provided to children in the caregiver’s home for less than 24 hours per day.

Limited English-speaking households

The U.S. Census Bureau defines these households as those in which no member age 14 and older speaks only English or speaks a non-English language and speaks English “very well.” The Census Bureau previously referred to these households as “linguistically isolated.”

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MIECHV (Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program)

This is a federally funded program that gives pregnant women and families, particularly those considered at-risk, necessary resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. MIECHV provides funds for developing and implementing voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs.

MSHS (Migrant and Seasonal Head Start)

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NCHS (National Center for Health Statistics)

The National Center for Health Statistics provides statistical information to guide actions and policies to improve the health of the American people. It is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System.

NFP (Nurse Family Partnership)

This Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) home visiting program used nurse home visitors to assist low-income first-time mothers and their children to improve their health and life-course.

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PAT (Parents as Teachers)

This Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) home visiting program provided information, support and encouragement to parents to help their children develop optimally during the crucial early years of life.

Parents Too Soon (PTS)

This program exclusively serves first-time teen parents and is administered by Start Early (formerly the Ounce of Prevention Fund).

PEP (Population Estimates Program)

This program produces estimates of the population for the United States, states, metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, counties, cities, towns, as well as for Puerto Rico and its municipios.

PFA/PFA-E (Preschool for All, Preschool for All-Expansion)

This llinois State Board of Education program focuses on providing high-quality educational programs for children who are determined to be at risk of academic failure. It also provides funding for programs serving families of low to moderate income whose children are not considered to be at risk academically and other families that choose to participate. Preschool For All – Expansion is intended to enhance the state’s infrastructure to provide high-quality preschool programs, and to expand high-quality full-day preschool programs for 4-year-olds in high-need communities.

PI (Prevention Initiative)

For children from birth to age 3 years, this initiative provides early, continuous, intensive and comprehensive child development and family support services to help families build a strong foundation for learning to prepare children for later school success. Prevention Initiative programs may be center-based (child care settings, family literacy programs) or provide home visitation services only.

Poverty/extreme poverty areas

A poverty area is an area in which 20% to 39% of the population is living below 100% of the federal poverty level. An extreme poverty area is an area in which 40% or more of the population is living below 100% of the federal poverty level. The U.S. Census only applies this term to census tracts.

Proposed capacity

The number of children a program proposes to serve at each site for the year. Actual enrollment numbers may, and do, differ.

PUMA (Public Use Microdata Area)

These are geographic areas for which the Census Bureau provides selected extracts of raw data from a small sample of Census records that are screened to protect confidentiality. These extracts are referred to as public use microdata sample (PUMS) files.

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QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement Systems)

Quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) document and communicate the quality of early childhood education programs and support quality improvement. In Illinois, the QRIS is called ExceleRate Illinois.

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RFP (Request For Proposals)

A Request For Proposal is a document produced by granting organizations to define the scope and terms of a project. RFPs are released to alert potential applicants to the funding opportunity and provide a starting point for the application process.

ROEs (Regional Offices of Education)

Regional Offices of Education (ROEs) are offices partnering with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to support local school districts and are grouped by county or counties throughout Illinois. The 38 regions are administered by locally elected regional superintendents of schools.

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School-aged care

Also reported as “before and after school care.”


Child care centers report capacity by individual sessions. Individual sessions included in IECAM counts are day, Session 1, and Session 2. These roughly correspond to full-day and half-day (morning/afternoon).

Slot gap

A slot gap refers to the disparity between the available number of early learning and care slots (or seats) in a given program area and the number of eligible children for those slots.

SPM (supplemental poverty measure)

Federal poverty levels (FPLs), which have been in use since the 1960s, estimate poverty rates by looking at a family’s or individual’s cash income. The SPM includes additional items such as tax payments and work expenses in its family resource estimates. SPMs are derived from data on basic necessities (food, shelter, clothing and utilities) and are adjusted for geographic differences in the cost of housing. Unlike FPLs, the SPM is not intended to assess eligibility for government programs. Instead, it serves as an additional indicator of economic well-being and provides a deeper understanding of economic conditions and policy effects.

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

This program provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of needy families so they can purchase healthy food and move toward self-sufficiency. It is administrated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Substitute care

Substitute care means the care of children who require placement away from their families or private guardians. Substitute care includes foster family care, care provided in a relative home placement, care provided in a group home, care provided in a maternity center or a child care, mental health or other institution, and care provided in an independent living arrangement. Source of definition: DCFS.

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TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)

This program provides temporary financial assistance for pregnant women and families with one or more dependent children to help pay for food, shelter, utilities, and expenses other than medical.

Total licensed capacity

Total licensed capacity differs from proposed capacity, which is the number of children a program proposes to serve at each site for the year. In addition, total licensed capacity does not necessarily equal actual child enrollment and attendance. The total licensed capacity for a child care center is NOT the sum of the capacities of the individual age ranges (6 weeks to age 1; age 2; ages 3–4; and age 5 to kindergarten, although it might be the same in a few cases. Differences result from the following conditions: Centers have separate capacities for individual age ranges, centers may serve children in full-day or half-day sessions, centers do not necessarily report all of their sessions, sessions that are not half-day or full-day sessions (such as before and after school care) are not included in IECAM data.

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ZIP Codes and ZCTAs

A postal ZIP Code is a delivery route, not a geographic area (although it approximates a geographic area). A ZCTA is created and used by the U.S. Census (using Census blocks) and is roughly similar to the geographic area of a corresponding postal ZIP code. IECAM reports on ZIP codes and ZTCAs.