Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Content Areas

  • What is Gateways to Opportunity?

    Gateways to Opportunity, Illinois Professional Development System, includes Gateways Credentials, Great START (Stretegy to Attract and Retain Teachers) Wage Supplement Program, Gateways to Opportunity Scholarship Program, Professional Development Advisor Program, and the Gateways to Opportunity Registry.

  • What are the Content Areas?

    There are seven Content Areas:
    1. Human Growth and Development
    2. Health, Safety, and Well-Being
    3. Observation and Assessment
    4. Curriculum or Program Design
    5. Interactions, Relationships, and Environments
    6. Family and Community Relationships
    7. Personal and Professional Development

    The following three strands are woven throughout the seven Content Areas:
    1. Children with Special Needs
    2. Culture
    3. Individual and Group Guidance

  • How did Gateways identify the Content Areas?

    A Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC) developed seven Content Areas after a review of the professional standards of related organizations and agencies. The seven areas and their related indicators identify professional competencies that are directly aligned with the following:
    • Illinois Early Childhood Education Content-Area Standards
    • Illinois Professional Teaching Standards
    • National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Standards for Early Childhood Professional Preparation
    • Illinois Director Credential (IDC) Competencies
    • Illinois Birth to Three Standards
    • Early Intervention Developmental Specialist Requirements
    • Child Development Associate requirements
    • Head Start Performance Standards
    • Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children Personnel Standards for Early Education and Early Intervention

  • What is the Career Lattice?

    Gateways’ Career Lattice illustrates the many career pathways and options for professional preparation and movement within the professional development system for early care and education professionals in Illinois. The Career Lattice identifies levels of competency within the Content Areas for the different credential levels that are part of the Lattice.

  • How do the Content Areas relate to the Gateways credentials?

    The Gateways credentials validate that an individual has met a defined set of requirements that are built around the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of the seven Content Areas. 

  • How will the Content Areas and related credentials be used in the Gateways Professional Development System?

    • Early care and education program administrators can use the Content Areas and benchmarks (which identify skills, knowledge, and dispositions) to plan educational opportunities for staff. They can specify credential levels for specific positions within their programs.
    • Higher education faculty and advisors can use Content Areas and benchmarks to design courses that ensure that student preparation is comprehensive. The Content Areas and benchmarks can also be used to coordinate course content with other institutions of higher education. Courses can be designed to address the benchmarks for each level of a credential. Through a review process, higher education programs can be approved as meeting the requirements for a specific level of a credential.
    • Training organizations can use Content Areas and benchmarks to plan and evaluate professional development opportunities.
    • Policy makers and advocates in Illinois can include credentials as part of the licensing process, tiered reimbursement, and the Great START wage supplement program. The credentialing system, and the Content Areas and benchmarks upon which it is built, form the foundation of a comprehensive early care and education professional development system in Illinois.

  • How can I receive more information?

    Call toll-free: (866) 697-8278 or e-mail.

Information compiled by Gateways to Opportunity Professional Development Staff at INCCRRA and members of the Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC).



Gateways to Opportunity is funded by public and private support including the McCormick Foundation, the Grand Victoria Foundation,    

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