ECAP Projects

Illinois-funded projects

Illinois Early Learning Project
Since 2001, the Illinois Early Learning Project (IEL) has provided reliable, evidence-based information on early care and education for parents, caregivers, and teachers of young children in Illinois. The Web site offers Tip Sheets for caregivers and parents in several languages, resources (including video clips) for implementing the Illinois Early Learning Standards, answers to frequently asked questions, a customized question-answering service, and an easy-to-use database of links to “the best of the Web” on topics related to early care and education. IEL is funded by the Early Childhood Division of the Illinois State Board of Education.

Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map
The IECAM Web site provides a comprehensive picture of early care and education services in Illinois by combining demographic data, such as population, language use, and poverty level, with early childhood program data (Preschool for All, Head Start, other child care). IECAM informs Web site users with guides and reports, including Quick Help Handouts that explain features found on IECAM, Data Reports that clarify uses and limitations of particular data types, and Technical Reports that provide detailed information on data found on the Web site.

Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse
The Illinois Early Intervention (EI) Clearinghouse identifies and collects research-based and best-practice early intervention information to share with families and professionals in Illinois. This free lending library is funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services and consists of books, journals, and DVDs related to early childhood, parenting, and young children with special needs. Additional resources are also available on the Web site, including resource guides related to topics in early intervention.

Illinois Projects in Practice
IllinoisPIP provides support, resources, and information for teachers, specialists, administrators, and trainers interested in the implementation of the Project Approach in Illinois classrooms for preschool children. A project is an in-depth investigation of a topic undertaken by a class, a group of children, or an individual child in an early childhood classroom or at home. IllinoisPIP is part of the Illinois Early Learning Project (IEL). is a dual-purpose Web site that provides information on parental involvement in the schools and links Illinois families to local services, agencies, supports, and resources. ECAP’s IllinoisParents team manages a customized question-answering service for parents and maintains a searchable database of resource links to statewide services, agencies, supports, and resources that is organized by county. is managed by the Academic Development Institute in Lincoln, Illinois, and is funded by the Illinois State Board of Education.

Early Childhood State Advisory Council Needs Assessment
Funded through the Illinois Department of Human Services, this project seeks to consolidate data relevant to young children (birth to age 8) and their families in Illinois in a format that can be used by the Office of Early Childhood Development in the Governor’s Office to accurately gauge the influences and circumstances that may put young children at risk of academic failure.

Early Childhood Research & Practice
Early Childhood Research & Practice (ECRP) is the only peer-reviewed, open-access, bilingual electronic journal in the field of early care and education. Since 1999, ECRP has covered topics related to the growth, learning, development, care, and education of children from birth to approximately age 8. ECRP has an international readership and receives more than 1.5 million user visits each year.

Hard to Reach Pilot Evaluation Project
The Illinois Department of Human Services has funded six early childhood programs across Illinois to implement innovative strategies to enroll and retain the hardest-to-reach children in high-quality early care and education settings. ECAP staff are working with the Office of Early Childhood Development in the Governor’s Office to evaluate program strategies that improve services for traditionally underserved families.

Federally funded projects

Head Start's National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning
The Head Start’s National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning develops, identifies, and promotes practices that have a strong evidence and research base. These practices are evaluated for their potential for efficacious adoption with diverse learners across a variety of Head Start/Early Head Start agencies. The center provides training and technical assistance using traditional and high-tech reflective formats that transform professional development from a compulsory activity to a compelling endeavor for Head Start/Early Head Start staff. This project is a subcontract with the University of Washington.

Establishing the Efficacy of the Special Friends Program
This research project examines the efficacy of the Special Friends program as an effective classwide kindergarten program that improves the social acceptance of children with disabilities. The project’s goals include the following: (a) establish program efficacy as a classwide approach for promoting social acceptance and friendships among kindergarteners with and without disabilities in multiple sites across two states; (b) examine long-term intervention effects on the social acceptance of children with disabilities; (c) examine temporal effects on the intervention; and (d) examine moderating influences on the program, such as class, school, child, and teacher variables.

Men's Parenting Behaviors in Families of Children with Disabilities, Findings from the ECLS-B
This project will conduct secondary data analysis with an existing date set. Analysis will be designed to explore the structure, sources and consequences of fathers' involvement in families of children with disabilities. Measures are limited to data available in the ECLS-B database. Data within the ECLS-B provides extensive information on child development and family functioning, is gathered from multiple sources (e.g., children, their parents, their child care providers), and includes multiple data collection formats (e.g., survey questionnaires, parent interview, direct child assessment).

Preparing Relationship-based Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education Personnel (PREP)
The PREP Project prepares early intervention and early childhood special education (EI/ECSE) personnel who have expertise in the social emotional development of young children as a foundation for providing responsive, evidence-based services to diverse young children with delays/disabilities and their families. The project provides students with a knowledge base built on core theory and content; opportunities to observe and interact with a variety of young children with delays/disabilities and their families; supervision that is individualized and facilitates self-reflection; family participation across a variety of training roles; and collegial collaboration that is modeled by faculty.

Project Blend
Project Blend prepares doctoral students to become leaders in developing blended teacher preparation programs in early childhood education, early childhood special education, and early intervention. Project Blend supports students through the completion of the doctoral requirements in the Department of Special Education. Graduates will earn a Ph.D. and be qualified to develop and sustain teacher preparation programs that prepare new teachers to meet the needs of children with diverse backgrounds and abilities in inclusive programs.