Recommendations from Illinois Early Childhood Educator Fellows On Changes to the Illinois State Board of Education Public Act 100-105

Recommendations from Illinois Early Childhood Educator Fellows On Changes to the Illinois State Board of Education Public Act 100-105

Dear Cara Wiley: 

We are a group of early childhood education professionals from across the state from family child care, center-based programs, Early Head Start/Head Start, and public and private schools. As newly inducted members of the 2018-2019 Teach Plus Early Childhood Fellowship, we have the unique opportunity to work together to simultaneously learn about educational policy while incorporating our first-hand experiences in the classroom to advocate policies that ensure the success of our youngest students. We each applied to this fellowship because we firmly believe that teachers should have a voice in decisions that affect our profession and an opportunity to expand our influence without leaving the classroom. 

Our work group of five early childhood professionals has developed recommendations for the proposed changes to be included in the Illinois State Board of Education Public Act 100-105.  Our bios are included at the end of this letter to illustrate the depth of knowledge and years of experience possessed by the members of the work group. We focused on clarifying definitions, the need for a structured transition process with required forms and documentation, identified funding sources, teacher education preparation, training, and resources for early childhood settings across the state.

We hope that these recommendations will be taken into account when the proposed additions to the public act are finalized.  

Thank you for your consideration.


Karen A. Dannenhauer
Teach Plus Early Childhood Senior Fellow

Jan Munday
Teach Plus Early Childhood Fellow

Recommendation: Add the professional discipline title of Developmental Therapist to the list of qualified professionals who may work with a child who presents with challenging behavior.

Rationale:  Developmental Therapy, which is serviced by degreed and credentialed therapists, is a form of therapy that focuses on the integration of conceptual skills, motor skills, language skills, and social-emotional skills. It includes a global evaluation and assessment, Individualized Family Service Plan development and individual or group therapy services. To achieve a comprehensive therapy treatment program, Developmental Therapists must have a close relationship with a child’s family, other therapists, and the school to create an appropriate treatment plan and to support parents in the developmental process. Developmental therapist are qualified professionals who can work with a child in an early childhood setting; thus, they should be included in this list.

Recommendation: Add additional information to the definition to provide a comprehensive overview of Challenging Behavior in Definitions


Suggested Definition:

Challenging behavior is any behavior that

interferes with a child’s cognitive, social, or emotional development;

• Is harmful to the child, other children, or adults

• Puts a child at high risk for later social problems or school failure (Klass, Guskin, & Thomas, 1995; McCabe & Frede, 2007).

• Behaviors that are not responsive to the use of developmentally-appropriate guidance procedures.

Examples: Prolonged tantrums, physical and verbal aggression, disruptive vocal and motor behavior (e.g., screaming, stereotypical), property destruction, self-injury, noncompliance, and withdrawal

“Repeated pattern of challenging behavior” would then be consistently displaying these behaviors.

Rationale:  The definition included in the changes to PL 100-105 was not complete and had some ambiguity to it. Searching the literature yielded this definition, which is more clear and complete.  Since this will determine whether a child is possibly transferred to another program, the definition needs to be detailed and free from any chance of misinterpretation.


Suggested recommendations for the changes to the definition are based on research from Vanderbilt University and the Center of Social Emotional Foundations of Early Learning and the definition of challenging behavior is from Kaiser & Rasminksy (2007).

Recommendation: Provide structure for the transition process that includes thoroughly-developed definitions, procedures, and timeline.



Rationale: Ensuring that the transition process is clear with instructions to complete the required forms is vital when it comes to consistency and continuity statewide. This would include reporting of observations, the frequency of contact, required interventions, communication with the family, plans of actions, request for a child mental health specialist and reporting of assistance from a mentor educator. Providing these detailed guidelines will help encourage streamlined services for programs as well as best practices throughout the transition process.

Recommendation: Resources for all early childhood settings across the state need to be clearly identified. Steps should be provided and listed in order of contact, where to go, as well as expectations from each of the identified agencies and or organizations. Support professionals (i.e., paraprofessionals, teacher assistants) should be included in this category of resources.  

Rationale: Specific guidelines need to be in place so that continuity across all early childhood settings have the same process and resources available. This would promote cohesiveness which is needed when implementing statewide policies and procedures.

Recommendation: Teacher Education Preparation programs should include the required coursework in children’s behavior, trauma, and social and emotional learning.

Rationale: Offering mandated coursework during teacher preparation and training that focuses on social-emotional needs, trauma and challenging behaviors will help pre-service teachers have a foundational knowledge of this matter prior to entering the workforce.

Recommendation: Ensure that a funding source is identified to make sure that services can be provided.

Rationale: Ensuring that appropriated funds are earmarked for resources and service providers to be in place is vital to the success of this policy. Furthermore, funds should be set aside to provide professional development for early childhood professionals on the expulsion process and to offer support to those who are working with the children directly.


Bios of Lead Authors

Karen A. Dannenhauer is a 2018-19 Teach Plus Illinois Early Childhood Educator Fellow. Karen teaches Dual Language Preschool for All at Steuben Elementary School in the Kankakee School District.  She is the head representative for preschool teachers in the Kankakee Federation of Teachers. Karen was an Early Childhood Adjunct Professor at Kankakee Community College for ten years and was a member of the 2018 Teach Plus Early Childhood Advisory Board. Karen holds a BS in Early Childhood Education and MEd in Educational Psychology from the University of Illinois, an MA in Curriculum and Instruction from Olivet Nazarene University, and endorsements in Bilingual Education and Technology Specialist.
Alejandra E. Hernández is a 2018-19 Teach Plus Illinois Early Childhood Educator Fellow. Alejandra opened her home child care business, Casa Hernandez Home Child Care Inc., in 2012. She has a teacher assistant certificate and a home group child care license. Alejandra has organized a support group for the local child care providers in the area, which aims  to help the families become successful clients and further the bond between provider and families. Alejandra is a member of the Addison Early Childhood Steering Committee. She earned a BS in Business Administration from DeVry University.

Patricia Ingram is a 2018-19 Teach Plus Illinois Early Childhood Educator Fellow. Patricia teaches preschool for children ages three and four at Ms. Patty Cakes Group Day Care Home in Harrisburg, Illinois. Patricia has been the owner and operator of Ms. Patty Cakes Group Day Care Home for 30 years. She had previously owned and operated the Harrisburg Early Learning Center for 20 years and the Eldorado Early Learning Center for 15 years. Patricia has been awarded the Illinois Director Credential Level 1 and Level 2. She has received an AAS in Early Childhood Education from Southeastern Illinois College and a BS in Education from Kendall College. 

Jan Munday is a 2018-19 Teach Plus Illinois Early Childhood Educator Fellow. Jan is the owner of a licensed family group home in Warrenville, Illinois, where she has taught children 0-12 years old, for the past thirty years. Jan has held accreditation since 1996 through the National Family Child Care Association. She is part of the Illinois Association for Young People (AEYC) DuPage Chapter and the Wheaton Glen Ellyn Child Care Association. Jan has been involved with the Wheaton Warrenville Collaboration for Kindergarten Readiness in District 200, representing family child care and the Illinois AEYC DuPage Chapter. She holds credentials in Early Childhood Education, Family Child Care, Infant/Toddler, all Level 5 and the Illinois Directors Level 2. Jan graduated from Kendall College in Chicago with a BA in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Special Education.

Hanni Reutter is a 2018-19 Teach Plus Illinois Early Childhood Educator Fellow. Hanni teaches preschool at Illinois Action for Children in Chicago, traveling to multiple sites to teach the Preschool for All program. She previously taught 2nd grade at Garfield School in School District 170. She graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a BS in Early Childhood Education and received a MA in Reading Education from Concordia University Chicago.

Other 2018-2019 Illinois Early Childhood Educator Fellows:

Maddie Bodine, Early Childhood Special Education Teacher, Genoa, IL 
Katie Canandy, Kindergarten Lead Teacher, Chicago IL 
Nicole Cannon, Head Start teacher, Riverdale, IL 
Shannon Carr, Pre-K teacher, Chicago, IL
Heather Duncan, Director of Early Learning, Collaboration for Early Childhood, Oak Park, IL Christine Flynn, Early Childhood Teacher, Chicago, IL 
Jared Hennen, Early Childhood Specialist, Chicago, IL  
Christina Hernandez, Early Childhood Specialist, Chicago, IL 
Megan Hillegass, Bilingual Preschool for All Teacher, Blue Island, IL 
Erin Jackle, Transition Facilitator for Early Learners, Elgin, IL 
Sarah Jecks, Early Childhood Special Education Teacher, East Moline, IL 
Laura Kelly, Early Childhood Special Education Resource Teacher, Peoria, IL 
Larissa Vander Kuur, Busy Bee Learning Center Family Child Program, Champaign, IL 
Vincent Rodriguez, Diverse Learners Coordinator, Chicago, IL 
Charetta Williams, Early Childhood Education Paraprofessional, Evanston, IL