April 2021 Partner Plan Act eNewsletter

April 8, 2021

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

Register now for the Partner Plan Act Virtual Summit – June 8 -10, 2021!

Registration is now live for the Partner Plan Act Virtual Summit (June 8-10, 2021)! The conference theme is Equity from the Start: Reimagining the Early Childhood System.

The conference will feature Vu Le as the opening keynote speaker. Vu Le is the founder of Nonprofit AF, where he humorously tackles topics like funding, community engagement, and culture through weekly blog posts. In addition, Lily Be, award-winning storyteller, will offer daily activities to help attendees envision a better early childhood system. The conference will feature Professor john a. powell as the closing speaker. Professor powell is an international expert in the fields of civil liberties and racial equity, and currently Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute, a University of California-Berkeley Research Institute modeled to enact transformative change.

You don’t want to miss this! As always, the conference is free to attend. We hope you’ll join us!

Collaboration Highlight

Brittain Ayres, Community-Based Planning Program Manager at Illinois Action for Children recently interviewed Gloria Perez about her experiences with community systems and the CS3 program. Gloria Perez works as a Bilingual Parent Liaison with Palatine Community Consolidated School District 15.

Gloria got her start working with parents as part of the Bilingual Parent Advisory Council (BPAC) for School District 15 in Palatine, where she was selected as president back in 2018. As a part of BPAC she noticed that many parents were not aware of the service and resources, and they didn’t know how to find or access information about early education services. Gloria also realized that parents didn’t know how to apply for childcare and education services and that technology presented a barrier for families. She wanted to learn more about how to help parents navigate these challenges.

Gloria connected with the Palatine Early Learning Alliance (PELA), the community collaboration in their area. They encouraged her to participate in the Community-to-Community (C2C) Mentorship program. She was partnered with Kassia Eide, SPARK Family Engagement Manager with Fox Valley United Way as her mentor. Since joining the C2C Mentorship program, Gloria said it has been very enriching. It has helped her with how to do her job and how to support parents. She has learned about how to engage with parents, how the school programming works, and how to help parents apply for early education programs.

Gloria doesn’t just take what she’s learned to improve her own work—she takes it back to the families that she works with. She said one of her favorite parts of the program is that she gets to share what she has learned with other parents. Even when she was feeling scared and shy at the beginning of the program and asking herself “What am I doing here?,” she turned that into a commitment to the families in Palatine by saying “Ok. Whatever I catch, I am going to share with parents, and I am going to keep going.” With the support of PELA, and the warm welcome she received with C2C mentorship, Gloria kept going.

For people considering participating in the C2C Mentorship program, Gloria had this to say:

“As a parent I always try to encourage other parents to participate, and I tell them how I felt. For parents I would say don’t be scared, try to find someone who will guide you in the process, if there is something new, don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn. I am learning new things and that is what I would say, don’t be afraid to ask, learn, and share. Even if it’s one or two people you are trying to help don’t give up. It’s one family with one or two kids and it’s going to make a difference in their life.”

If your community collaboration would like to be highlighted in a future e-newsletter, please email partnerplanact@actforchildren.org.


Picking Up the Pieces: Building a Better Child Care System Post COVID-19


Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) usually releases two major reports in the fall that examine the childcare landscape. However, the data from last calendar year (2019) did not reflect the reality of the massive changes in the childcare system because of COVID-19. So, CCAoA gathered as much 2020 data as they could, resulting in Picking Up the Pieces, which allows comparisons in the childcare system pre- and mid-pandemic.

Picking Up the Pieces is organized into three chapters that explore the impact of COVID-19 on access to childcare, the affordability of childcare, and childcare quality. The online, interactive version of the report features select material from the full report. Access the online version, download the full report, and view the state specific page on Illinois which includes select data down to the county level click.


The Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership


Thriving, diverse, equitable communities are possible through deep participation, particularly by communities commonly excluded from democratic voice and power. Leaders across multiple sectors, such as community-based organizations and early childhood community collaborations can use the “Spectrum of Community Engagement to Ownership” to assess and revolutionize community engagement efforts to advance community-driven solutions. We need to shift from the left side of the spectrum to the right, changing our activities from merely informing families and community members to collaborating with and deferring to them.

Learn more

Trainings and Events

Equity from the Start: Reimagining the Early Childhood System | June 8-10, 2021

The Partner Plan Act annual conference , designed to be a place for early childhood community systems stakeholders to convene, learn, and grow will take place virtually on June 8-10, 2021. The conference spans three days with presentations from opening keynote, Vu Le, award-winning Chicago storyteller, Lily Be and Professor john a. powell as the closing keynote. Attend one session or all three days! Registration is free and attendees will receive Gateways to Opportunity and Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) credits.

Register today.

Tamarack Institute – Small Group Coaching

Between January and March 2021, your team and you may have participated in a series of workshops provided by Tamarack Institute. The three workshops were interactive sessions with a focus on the following:

  • Useful perspectives and examples about how communities are working differently.
  • Practical tools you can use to advance your collaborative work.
  • A network of partners you can reach out to for support and collaboration.

We are offering a chance to enhance your learning through small group coaching! One month after the completion of the workshop, your team and you will be invited to a small group coaching session. This session will focus on how you have implemented the tools and approaches. You can also use this time to ask questions and share your lessons learned.

  • Workshop 3: Creating a Culture of Engagement
    • Coaching Sessions: April 7 and 8, 2021 | 1 – 2 p.m.

Register today for this unique opportunity! Space for the coaching session is limited, so we encourage you to register early.