Human Services

Illinois Action for Children

aka Action for Children

Chicago, IL


Illinois Action for Children is a catalyst for organizing, developing and supporting strong families and powerful communities where children matter most.

Ruling Year


President & CEO

Maria Whelan

Main Address

4753 N Broadway St Ste 1200

Chicago, IL 60640 USA

Formerly Known As

Day Care Action Council of Illinois

Day Care Crisis Council of Metropolitan Chicago

Action for Children


children, youth, families, women, early childhood education, care, illinois, daycare, advocacy, policy, affordable, quality, parents, child care, workforce development, community systems development, early learning, poverty





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (P01)

Child Day Care (P33)

Family Services (Adolescent Parents) (P45)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

As a state and national leader in the early care and education community for 50 years, Illinois Action for Children works to ensure that all children and families in Illinois--especially children of color and those in poverty—have access to high-quality early care, education and other critical systems of support that lead to success in school and in life. Studies show that the brain develops more and more rapidly from birth through age five than at any other time. Experiences during this period-positive or negative-shape children's development and are strong predictors of lifelong academic, social, and economic success. As research shows, a strong early education and developmental foundation is key to a maximizing children's future potential. In Illinois 43% of children are living in poverty/deep poverty and lack essential access to a strong early education foundation. We strive to reach those most fragile, isolated children/families and provide them with the resources they need.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Early Learning Programs

Provider Services

Family and Community Partnerships

Public Policy and Advocacy

Community Systems Development (CSD)

Consultation Services

Healthy Food Program

Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

1) Responsive Programs and Public Policies – We will continue to address the needs of children and families in the context of their community.

2) Collaborative Relationships – We will build on the local and national relationships that extend our policy and service capacity and expand opportunities for families and communities.

3) Compelling Messages – We will communicate to the audiences we serve with clarity and conviction while building our brand and enhancing our reputation.

4) Dynamic Leadership – We will continue to engage our board, our staff and our field in building diverse leadership for an expanding, connected and changing world.

5) Organizational Excellence – We will continue organizational transformation to deliver real-time excellence in the programs, policies and services that impact the families and communities we serve.

Working together, we can serve more families in more ways than ever before. It's time to take action.

Action 1.1 - Focus on outcomes and impact in our work with families and in communities
Action 1.2 - Broaden our public policy focus
Action 1.3 - Engage a multi-year program and policy platform

Action 2.1 - Merge network of relationships for better program results
Action 2.2 - Enhance community collaborations
Action 2.3 - Shape technical assistance services

Action 3.1 - Segment messaging to target communities of interest for impact
Action 3.2 - Clarify key messages
Action 3.3 - Align our brand with issues that demonstrate our leadership in the early care and education community

Action 4.1 - Advance field-based staff development
Action 4.2 - Enhance skill-based investments
Action 4.3 - Extend the performance culture

Action 5.1 - Create self-sustaining programs
Action 5.2 - Identify broader quality measurements
Action 5.3 - Extend the entrepreneurial sphere
Action 5.4 - Fund diversification

Our winning aspiration The Illinois field leader in: early care and education; advocacy and administration; community engagement and systems development. A top producer of early care and education program research, developed through in-context innovation. Where we will play Locally, in communities serving the hardest to reach; in Illinois, in advocacy and systems development and alignment; nationally, as policy thought leaders and partners. How we will win Excellence in: "from the ground up" public policy and advocacy, administrative process management, innovation in community programming, and direct service. Our capabilities Organization and system leadership; early care and education technical/professional skills and competencies; front line staff development. Our systems and supports Evolving technical and human resource infrastructure; fiscal and financial competence; developing performance management metrics and strong oversight and governance systems.

1. Build Responsive Programs and Public Policies
• Policymakers adopt our organizing/community engagement lens in policy development
• Technical assistance infrastructure exists and supports community systems development
• New models of composite family support services emerge

2. Develop Collaborative Relationships
• A technical assistance and consulting structure is a part of a growing customer service model
• Diverse communities are engaged in common needs management
• Collaboration and coordination are deemed a core competence

3. Create Compelling Messages
• New partners align with and support IAFC brand
• Attach our brand/identity to key issues
• Our messages and impact are traceable through a variety of mediums in local and national public discourse

4. Promote Dynamic Leadership
• Promotions reflect staff investments
• Best practice recognition from leadership in the field
• Succession plans have multiple internal candidates prepared to lead

5. Sustain Organizational Excellence
• Enhanced technical infrastructure is in place
• National reputation is acknowledged externally
• Endowment is significantly increased

“What about the children?” That simple question 50 years ago led to the formation of a grassroots organization that would eventually become Illinois Action for Children (IAFC). For five decades (and counting) IAFC has worked to ensure that all children in Illinois—especially children of color and those in poverty —have access to high-quality early childhood care, education, and other vital resources—and that parents are supported in their goals of economic self-sufficiency and stability. Over the years the needs of families have changed. New challenges have emerged. New opportunities have been created. At Illinois Action for Children, we’ve recognized the need to do even more and we’ve taken action by implementing new programs and policies to help organize, develop and support “Strong Families and Powerful Communities” where children matter most. Our 50th Anniversary Celebration will focus on three key audiences: For Children and Families, we will embark on a major new initiative as robust and ambitious as the recent Strategic Plan that drove us to open our Head Start and Early Head Start Centers and much more. For Donors, we will demonstrate our impact on the early care and education landscape to encourage ongoing support and investment in the lives of children and families. For Staff, we will continue to provide new opportunities to make an impact as we work together to write the next chapter in the history of IAFC. Join Us This is a year of celebration, culminating with our signature, annual fundraiser A Night to Shine, this fall. Thanks to donors, partners, providers, advocates, and families across Illinois, IAFC is a 50-year success story—but our story is far from over—and we cannot write it alone. Working together, we can fill the pages in the next chapter of IAFCs history with a bold new vision and transformational impacts—empowering our most vulnerable children, families and communities to soar to their greatest potential. Join with us to ensure our best is yet to come. To learn more about Illinois Action for Children, our programs, our advocacy efforts or how you can get involved, visit our website at

External Reviews


Illinois Action for Children

Need more info on this nonprofit?

Need more info on this nonprofit?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2015
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

See what's included


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2015
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

See what's included

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?