February 2022 Partner Plan Act E-Newsletter

February 11, 2022

“Power can be defined as the ability to make a particular perspective seem universal.” – Alok Vaid-Menon

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

Our virtual conference, Equity from the Start: Taking Action, Shifting Power is four months away! We are excited to announce the closing keynote speaker as Dr. Dana Crawford. Dr. Crawford is a pediatric and clinical psychologist who developed the Crawford Bias Reduction Theory & Training (CBRT), a systematic approach to reducing bias, prejudice, and racism. Registration will open in the Spring, but be sure to check our website for the latest conference updates.

(photo description: photo of Dr. Dana Crawford, a Black woman, smiling at the camera, wearing a green shirt and her hair up.)

Collaboration Highlight

Parent Perspectives – Erica Jones

This month, we had a conversation with Erica Jones about her family’s experience with early childhood programs. Hopefully, this parent perspective can offer insight on how families navigate early childhood systems. 

Erica, her spouse, and their two girls live in River Forrest, IL.  They participate alongside their eight-year-old in the Strengthening Families Parenting/Family Relationship Skill Building program. The program meets virtually once a week for eight weeks. Participants of the program receive a catered meal delivered to them every time they meet and necessary supplies for activities. Their four-year-old participates in a preschool program at Concordia University. Erica and her partner try to participate in most family involvement opportunities at their daughter’s preschool, such as field trips and zoom meetings.

Erica’s family particularly like the support the programs offer around goal setting.  It helps them understand how to stay on track with age-appropriate behaviors.  Erica shared that this was especially helpful because, “there are some things you don’t know until you’ve been in the throes of life.  You’ve never had a four-year-old until you have one.”  Understanding age-appropriate behaviors has helped Erica and her spouse “give constructive criticism” and “have more patience”.  The games and activities that are delivered to them at home, such as conversation jars and tools for practicing mindfulness, have helped introduce new ideas on “how to interact more as a family in the midst of [their] busy lives”.

When asked about how they found out about the early childhood programs their daughters participate in, Erica shared that she learned about the preschool program for her youngest from a flier she saw posted at a music studio her daughter was attending.  As far as the Strengthening Families program, that information came from the school district in the form of fliers sent home with the children in addition to being featured in the newsletter. Erica and her spouse were able to enroll both of their girls without any difficulties. 

Despite Strengthening Families being such great and accessible program, they are struggling to engage families during these challenging times.  Erica was surprised that only three other families have taken the opportunity to participate in the Strengthening Families program.  She shared that maybe the information is not getting out to families. When asked if she thinks there is a better way to get the information out to families, she hypothesized that Facebook and social media would be a great way to spread the word; especially posting on social media groups for mothers and families.

Overall, Erica and her family have no complaints about the programs their families are a part of thus far.  They express their gratitude for the support provided and describe it as an experience of “teaching our family the skills to grow together”.  The programs help Erica and her spouse “to be on the same page,” in addition to gaining more parenting ideas and tools. 

When asked if she has any suggestions for how agencies can make programs like the ones her family participate in more accessible, Erica responded, “Make them available to more families in need, not just in Oak Park.  I don’t want to say that families don’t need it here, but we are a lot more privileged than surrounding neighborhoods that don’t have the support and resources.  I want to see the services branch out.” 

Thanks to Erica Jones and her family for sharing their experience with the early childhood programs.  We are grateful for your parent perspective.


Decolonizing Gender Zine

(photo description: photo reads “Decolonizing Gender: A Curriculum, with excerpts from ‘my gender is MyGender’ (a comic book!)” with a drawing of the sun and moon.

Decolonizing Gender: A Curriculum is a guided reflection on gender identity, race, and colonialism. Designed for both individuals and groups, this zine asks deep and probing questions about why the gender binary is seen as the “norm”, despite people who choose to exist outside of the binary having existed forever.

How did the whole world “get” two genders? The answer has more to do with colonialism and white supremacy than you might think.

This volume includes personal reflection activities, instructions for group activities, historical lessons, and excerpts from “my gender is My Gender,” a groundbreaking personal narrative and comic book from khari jackson, co-creator of Decolonizing Gender.

Decolonizing Gender was created by khari jackson and Malcolm Shanks. This zine is free to everyone. If you would like to contact creators about the zine, permissions to reproduce or re-purpose its contents, or other related creative opportunities please email decolonizinggender.zine@gmail.com.

STANDING UP: What is calling in versus calling out?

(photo description: text overlaying a Black person and a white person reads, ‘STANDING UP’)

In this short three and half minute video, Danielle and Archie present ‘calling in’ and ‘calling out’ as two ways to challenge prejudice depending on your level of confidence.

  1. What are some of the different factors that might hold people back from challenging prejudice?
  2. In what types of situations do you feel calling out would be more effective than calling in?
  3. Can you think of a time you’ve challenged discrimination before? If so, what is the biggest reward of challenging it?

Training and Events

IAFC Research Team Webinar Series | January and February 2022

As we approach our third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Research Team at Illinois Action for Children would like to share some recent research findings on families, child care, and COVID. In each webinar, they will briefly present key research findings. A panel will discuss the findings and implications. We welcome participation from parents, providers, advocates, and public officials.

Child Care Providers Facing COVID – February 11, 12:00 – 1:00 PM.

Register Here

Lessons from the Pandemic: Improving Supports for Families and Child Care Providers – February 18, 12:00 – 1:00 PM.

Register Here

How to Engage Parents as Family and Community Experts in EC Collaborations | March 16, 2022

To engage a parent in the role of Family and Community Expert is to value and listen to them about their individual, family, and community’s strengths, needs, and experiences with the early childhood system.  In this role, parents share their feedback through a variety of mediums such as surveys, focus groups, small in-person meetings, etc.   Join the first part of a four-workshop series to gain practical steps to engaging parents as Family and Community Experts.

Intro to Systemic Racism | June 29 – 30, 2022

It is impossible to talk about systems-change without recognizing the insidious nature of racism and its role within systems. For this reason, the CS3 team contracted with Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR) to provide trainings on this important subject. This event will take place virtually over the course of two days, June 29th from 9:00 am -12:30 pm and June 30th from 9:00 am -12:30 pm.

Equity from the Start: Taking Action, Shifting Power | June 7 – 8, 2022

Save the Date! The annual Partner Plan Act conference will take place virtually from June 7- 8, 2022. Registration will open in the Spring 2022.