November Partner Plan Act E-Newsletter

November 16, 2021

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.” – James Baldwin

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

The annual Partner Plan Act conference will take place virtually June 7- 8, 2022. This year’s conference theme is Equity from the Start: Taking Action, Shifting Power. At the last conference, we reimagined what the sector could look like when we center those most impacted. Now we want to hear how folks are operationalizing racial equity in their communities.

Have ideas for how to shift power to communities in the early childhood system? If your community is doing great work and taking action to create a more equitable and just system, we want to hear from you! Please consider submitting a conference breakout session proposal. You can find the Request for Proposals here. Submissions are due January 10, 2022, and should be submitted to Kristina Rogers (

Every two years, the CS3 team releases an updated Collaboration Directory. The Collaboration Directory serves as Illinois’ most comprehensive list of early childhood community collaborations advancing community systems development efforts locally. We are reaching out to collaborations to request an update on their collaboration information. If you have not been reached or are want to be included in the directory, please email

Collaboration Highlight

Parent Perspectives – Marta Barriga

This month we had a conversation with Marta Barriga. Marta is a parent who lives in Oak Park, IL with her husband Daniel and three children: Claudia (12), Martin (8), and Lucas (4). She shared a bit about her recent experience with the early childhood system and how her local community collaboration was a critical resource for her through the experience.

1. What early childhood programs/services does your child participate in?

Lucas participates in two wonderful programs. In the mornings, he attends Kindness Creators Intergenerational Preschool, and in the afternoons, he participates in the PreKindergarten Partnership Program (PKP) through Oak Park School District 97. Each program provides three or fewer hours of services per day.

Kindness Creators is a private preschool located within a senior living facility. Their focus is social-emotional learning, which is greatly aided by bringing young children and senior citizens together in a classroom setting. Seniors volunteer to participate in fun activities with the children, providing amazingly rich experiences for both young and old.

PKP is an early learning program for Oak Park residents, funded by the Illinois State Board of Education and held in a local elementary school.

Also, through a recommendation from Kindness Creators staff, Marta found an occupational therapist who diagnosed Lucas with a sensory processing disorder. She provided some occupational therapy for Lucas’s sensory-seeking needs. Currently, I have put a pause on therapy due to logistical issues.

2. How did you find out about these services?

As with most parents, the Coronavirus pandemic greatly affected the family’s choices regarding early learning programs. Additionally, Lucas has needs that made finding the right place for him especially difficult. After a less-than-ideal experience with another early learning program, we found ourselves scrambling to find a place that was a better fit for him. Kindness Creators had a full-day slot for Lucas, but Daniel and I opted for half a day at Kindness Creators and half a day in the PKP program. We wanted to make use of the services and supports that the school district offers through PKP.

They found Kindness Creators on Facebook and reached out to them directly. They learned about PKP through a recommendation from Oak Park’s Collaboration for Early Childhood.

3. What was your experience in accessing/enrolling in these services?

While Kindness Creators had open slots, they wanted to make sure they were able to adequately meet all of Lucas’s needs. So we were offered a trial run. After a short time, when it became evident that Lucas was thriving, they offered us a permanent slot.

PKP has a list of eligibility criteria that prioritized Lucas’s enrollment. He was offered a slot after a screening interview.

Additionally, the Collaboration for Early Childhood, the community collaboration in Oak Park, offered a lot of support. Not only did they recommend
PKP, but they also provided resources and advice on how to request and access services from the school district.

4. What is working well for your child?

Pre-k is providing an important social-emotional component and giving Lucas tools to interact with his peers. It is really helping Lucas with self-regulation and with positively using his energy; he’s learning and maturing.

5. What can these programs do differently to better serve you and your family?

They need to understand children’s needs and have the resources and capacity to serve not only neurotypical children but all children.

Also, extended hours in the state-funded pre-k programs would be helpful and lead to more equitable outcomes. Families whose schedules don’t allow for limited hours are at a disadvantage. Even a true half-day (4 hours) program might work.

6. How do you engage with the programs/services?

I am a parent volunteer at the district level, and I am a part of a multi-cultural/multi-lingual parent advisory committee that gives a voice to multi-lingual and foreign-born parents who do not understand the early childhood system, resources, or available supports. Recently, that committee merged with a diversity committee, and now I help to advocate for all families who are not accessing resources, regardless of language.

7. How has participating in these programs benefitted your child and family?

Participating in pre-k alerted us to his sensory disorder and allowed us to identify the supports that he needs. It has made us stronger advocates for our children.

8. What could agencies do to make accessing programs/services easier for families?

Agencies can help programs and school districts better communicate the supports and programs available to families. They can advocate for parents so that parents can advocate for their children.


TANF at 25: Poverty Remains High Among the Nation’s Babies, But Few are Assisted


(description: photo of a baby facing the camera, grasping onto his mother as she holds him tenderly)

This fact sheet from ZERO TO THREE takes a look at the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in its 25th year and its role in the lives of babies in poverty.

Babies grow best in stable environments, but for families living in poverty, difficulties feeding, clothing, and maintaining housing for babies can undermine their development. Though assistance can help families bridge the gap, few families who could benefit from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program’s basic assistance actually receive it, and the persistent effects of racism and sexism in the program’s history continue to contribute to the lower allocation of TANF funds to direct assistance in states with higher populations of Black and other families of color.

Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture

The goal of this publication, Awake to Woke to Work, is to offer some organizational practices that would support operationalizing equity at the organizational level. The publication gives ways to identify the personal beliefs and behaviors, cultural characteristics, operational tactics, and administrative practices that accelerate measurable progress as organizations move through distinct phases toward race equity.

Training and Events

Intro to Systemic Racism | March 16th and 17th, 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, March 16th from 9:00 am -12:30 pm and March 17th from 9:00 am -12:30 pm.