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Outdoor Early Childhood Education Licensing (IL)


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Policy Type Legend
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Climate Education


Grant Fund

Community Process

Outdoor Recreation

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Outdoor Learning in Schools

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Early Childhood Education

This bill would amend Illinois’ Child Care Act of 1969, which currently does not provide licensing standards for outdoor learning environments, a barrier for early childhood programs which are primarily held outdoors.  This bill would establish an initiative to license outdoor early childcare programs throughout the state of Illinois, and would make Illinois the second state in the U.S. to license outdoor preschools.  Modeled after Washington’s Outdoor Early Childhood Education Licensing Policy created in 2017, this bill charges the Department of Children and Family Services with creating a 4-year outdoor preschool pilot program and selecting 10 pilot locations, with the chance for additional locations to apply after the first year.

The Department of Children and Family Services would be required convene an advisory group that includes outdoor, nature-based early learning practitioners to inform and support the pilot program’s implementation.  This advisory group, along with the Department, would provide the General Assembly and Governor with reports on the participation of providers and children in the program and recommendations on modifying or expanding the availability of outdoor preschools.

Currently, unlicensed outdoor child care programs throughout the state are ineligible for state-subsidized funding, which impacts the accessibility of these programs for families who cannot afford full tuition.

Forest Schools of Illinois, a statewide grassroots initiative made up of parents, educators, and public servants, is leading the effort to pass this bill in collaboration with the Department of Children Youth and Families and the Illinois State Board of Education.

Policy Details

Year Submitted

2021, tabled

Bill Status

Tabled Until Next Session

Most Recent Yearly Funding


Total Program 



Continuing or One-time Funding


Funding Source

Donations from philanthropic organizations

Path to Enactment


Bill Number

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