Professional Development Advisory Council
Who They Are
The Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC) is a group of highly qualified practitioners, educators, and advocates from around the state. PDAC was created in December 2002 by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Bureau of Child Care and Development, and introduced Gateways to Opportunity statewide in March 2005. Gateways to Opportunity is the Illinois state professional development system for early care and education, school-age, and youth development professionals. PDAC’s overall strategy is to improve the stability of the early care and education workforce through increased professional development and improved opportunities for career advancement. PDAC members are accomplishing this goal through their dedicated efforts and involvement in PDAC committees. PDAC holds five statewide meetings a year, including an annual stakeholders meeting.
What They Believe
The partners involved in this collaborative effort are committed to developing an integrated statewide professional development system. Additional goals are to promote professionalism within the early care and education, school-age, and youth development fields and provide opportunities and compensation for professionals to further their education and training. The system is accessible and affordable to practitioners across Illinois working in these fields. PDAC partners recognize that these goals are achievable only through collaboration with statewide, regional, and local organizations and funding entities (private and public) committed to this common purpose.
Illinois early care and education, school-age, youth development, and family support practitioners are well-qualified professionals who nurture and support the development and learning of children, youth, and families.
To develop, support, and promote a professional development system for all early care and education, school-age, youth development, and family support practitioners.
We believe an effective professional development system is inclusive of practitioners in all settings serving children, youth, and families; service providers and program staff; and educators and trainers.
We value a Professional Development System that:
- Reaches across all geographic areas
- Includes diverse representation of culture, linguistics, ability, ethnicity, gender, and age
- Is accessible, affordable, and diverse in opportunities
- Develops and expands core knowledge, skills, and dispositions
- Respects and cultivates education, training, and experience
- Recognizes and equitably compensates achievement based on levels of competence
- Supports inclusive, high-quality culturally responsive care and education for all children, youth, and families in all settings
Learn more by reading the PDAC Strategic Plan 2015–2018.
How They Are Helping
PDAC’s Gateways to Opportunity is designed to:
- Encourage professionals of diverse backgrounds to obtain more education and training
- Provide recognition to professionals with specialized training at different levels of education
- Unify the different aspects of the early care and education field by building consistency among settings
- Ensure that early care and education professionals have online access to a central resource for career opportunities and the education and training required to advance within the field
- Help ease barriers to completing college coursework
- Make it possible for transfer students to receive credit for their early childhood coursework
- Meet the growing demand for certified teachers
- Promote the most efficient use of professional development resources
Project Administration and Structure
The Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC) develops recommendations related to the design and implementation of the professional development system and other professional development initiatives and activities.
Financial Supports Committee
- Gain statewide consensus regarding compensation parity including regional impact/implications.
- Investigate financial supports to identify and prioritize successes and barriers to professional development access.
- Promote the alignment of existing Gateways to Opportunity financial supports to strengthen accessibility in all settings serving children, youth, and families.
Information and Trends Committee
- Establish a well-informed committee membership based on identified needs.
- Establish connections with information sources related to professional development, professional development system trends, research, and policy.
- Establish a framework for disseminating information.
- Synthesize available information, trends, research, and policy around issues critical to professional development and professional development systems.
PDAC Governance Committee
- Create a Leadership Development Plan.
- Maintain well-defined processes and protocols to support PDAC decision making.
- Build effective relationships with state agencies, advocates, and others, to support professional development in Illinois
Qualifications and Credentials Committee
- Review, develop, and implement Gateways to Opportunity Credentials.
- Improve access and incentivizing of Gateways to Opportunity Credentials.
- Ensure credentialed practitioners reflect the diversity of the children and families served.
Special Focus: Registry
- Expand Gateways to Opportunity Registry membership.
- Increase communication and education to current and potential members about Gateways to Opportunity Registry components and benefits to make the Gateways Registry relevant to all populations.
- Evaluate and strengthen capacity for Gateways to Opportunity Registry-approved professional development in Illinois.
Workforce Development and Pathways Committee
- Gain cross sector agreement on an integrated/common language and definitions related to workforce “roles” and education/qualifications.
- Develop strategies and policies to increase the workforce’s qualifications, education, and compensation.
- Enhance the Gateways to Opportunity Career Lattice to include multiple access points and dimensions of quality to allow for greater utilization.
- Influence college coursework to be reflective of current research and best practices while providing students with an opportunity to put theory into practice before entering the field.