Center for Best Practices

About the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood Education

The Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood Education, part of Western Illinois University's College of Education and Human Services, was established January 1, 2000, to continue the work of Macomb Projects, which began in 1975 under the direction of Dr. Patricia Hutinger. The "Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood" is an umbrella title for an organization comprised of externally-funded projects.

The Center's mission is to promote family-centered, research-based practices designed to improve educational opportunities for all young children.

A talented, dedicated staff contributes to the Center's continued success. The Center currently employs 22 people, including four student employees. Six well-trained, highly-knowledgeable Center staff members have worked in Center projects for 20 or more years; while five have worked at the Center 15 to 19 years, two 10 to 15 years, and five less than 10 years.

The work of the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood responds to Western Illinois University's mission and values regarding instruction and service. Center projects provide instruction via face-to-face workshops, webinars, DVDs, podcasts, and websites. Center projects serve their stakeholders by providing technical assistance and consultation via phone, email, or face-to-face contact. Center services (e.g., technical assistance, workshops, and training) and products (e.g., podcasts, websites, videos) are available to eligible participants at no- or low-cost. No registration fees are required either for workshops or webinars or for the Early Intervention Credential or enrollment services.

Current Projects

Current grant projects are funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois State Board of Education.

Provider Connections Credentialing and Enrollment , funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services since 1997, issues the Illinois Early Intervention Part C Credential to early intervention providers in Illinois and border states and enrolls those providers in the state’s Central Billing Office. Provider Connections' work helps ensure that eligible Illinois children ages birth to three have access to services delivered by credentialed providers trained to meet the unique needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Provider Connections' mission is to ensure that professionals working in the Illinois EI System possess appropriate qualifications, enhance their professional growth, and strengthen their understanding of children ages birth to 3 with special needs. Visit the project's website at for more information.

STARNET Regions I and III, funded by the Illinois State Board of Education since 1988,provides training, consultation, and resources to the early childhood community in northwest and central Illinois. STARNET's mission is to provide a variety of opportunities for personal and professional growth for those who touch the lives of young children, ages birth through eight, with an emphasis on children with special needs. STARNET Regions I & III provides training, face-to-face workshops, webinars, consultation, and resources to the early childhood community in 54 counties in northwest and central Illinois. In addition, STARNET offers an informative website; fellowships for teachers and families; a well-stocked resource library of books and DVDs; and APPLES Video Magazines, one-half hour videos on important topics in early childhood. The programs are available on DVD for purchase or loan to Illinois residents, on the project's website, and on Western Illinois University's YouTube page: