July 2019

July 8, 2019

“Programmatic interventions help people beat the odds, systemic interventions change the odds.” – Karen Pittman

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

The opportunity to submit a Request for Supports through the Partner Plan Act Collaboration Institute (PPACI) closed on June 21, 2019. Thank you to the communities that applied. Six communities have been accepted into the Collaboration Institute’s second cohort. Please help us in welcoming the second cohort communities!

  • Bensenville/Elmhurst Community
  • Carpentersville Early Childhood Collaboration
  • DeKalb County Coordinated Intake Collaborative
  • Glenbard Early Childhood Collaborative
  • North Lawndale Early Learning Collaboration
  • St. Charles Community Collaboration

On June 11, 2019, the team hosted its annual Partner Plan Act conference. This year, the conference theme was, “Equity from the Start: Community Systems Development through a Racial Equity Lens.” More than 150 people gathered from across the state to learn, connect, and advance racial equity in local early childhood systems. The morning plenary was led by the Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR)’s team, Kelly Hurst and Mary Pat Martin. They led participants through a power analysis integrated with racial equity. They also spoke about the need for historical context to understanding racial equity and the need for more “courageous spaces.” Dr. Aisha Ray concluded the day with her afternoon plenary, focusing on how state leaders, as well as all of us, can further racial equity in Illinois.

Thank you to all who attended and everyone who helped make this day successful. We cannot wait for next year’s! You can check out conference materials and photos from the day here.

Collaboration Highlight

Will County All Our Kids Network

Great things are happening in Will County! On May 23, 2019, the Will County All Our Kids Network (AOK) hosted its free, 12th annual Early Childhood Mental Health Conference. The Conference was held at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL, and drew more than 125 participants who are deeply invested in the mental health of young children and their families. They represented a variety of sectors including; licensed counselors, teachers, Early Intervention providers, nurses, social service providers, state agencies, childcare centers, and higher education institutions.

The idea for an annual mental health conference came from an identified need in the county. In 2008, Will County AOK realized that there were not many local mental health resources available to providers or families. Knowing that mental health is essential to a child’s well-being, they decided to create an opportunity for mental health professionals and others interested in early childhood mental health to come together annually. This annual conference now serves as a way to provide new skills and learning opportunities to local providers who work with families in Will County. In addition, it allows Will County AOK’s partners to continue to work together for the benefit of children and families;  partners participate in the planning process and graciously provide in-kind donations and educational credits.

In the years since its inception, the Early Childhood Mental Health Conference has grown in attendance and popularity. With a timely theme of “Attachment,” the conference sold out within a week. There was great interest in learning from respected experts in the field and in attending sessions such as:

  • Maternal Mental Illness: Effects on Parenting
  • Create Peaceful, Compassionate Classrooms Through Solving the Riddle of Preschoolers’ Challenging Behaviors
  • Mindful Caregiving: Promoting Attachment Security When Children or Caregivers Feel Uncomfortable in Their Own Skin.

In addition to acquiring new knowledge and practical, real-world ideas, participants were also awarded Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or Certified Professional Development Units (CPDUs).

The planning committee for the Will County AOK Early Childhood Mental Health Conference will soon start working on next year’s conference, and it’s bound to be even better! Make sure to keep an eye out for it!

If you would like to have your collaboration’s work highlighted, please email Partnerplanact@actforchildren.org.


Toolkit: Engaging School Districts in Early Childhood Collaborations

Early childhood collaborations in Illinois vary in their level of engagement with school districts. This toolkit developed by IAFC, in partnership with the McCormick Foundation, asks (and answers) the question: How can early childhood collaborations take steps to engage their local school districts more deeply in the work of local early childhood collaborations?

The toolkit draws on the real-life experiences of Illinois collaboration and school district leaders and covers such topics as “The Benefits of Collaboration,” “Getting Started” to build relationships, “Making the Case” for collaboration, and “Keeping Schools Engaged.”


Introducing WeConnect!

Illinois Action for Children is thrilled to announce our new online collaboration platform, WeConnect! Get ready to take your community systems development work to a whole new level. It’s free to join and once you sign in you’ll have instant access to:

  • Online Communities: Connect with members of your collaboration and others online.
  • Discussions: Ask questions and share your knowledge and ideas.
  • Resource Libraries: Share your documents and find resources you need.
  • Member Directory: Connect with other collaboration members.

There is strength in numbers. Connect with other collaborations on WeConnect, today!


Display monitor showing screenshot of WeConnect Online Communities

Upcoming Trainings and Events

We need your input! Please complete the two-minute Training Needs Assessment survey. It will help Illinois Action for Children’s Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3) team in our planning of FY20 trainings and ensure that we are being responsive to communities.