October 2019

October 4, 2019

“Distinguishing the signal from the noise requires both scientific knowledge and self-knowledge: the serenity to accept the things we cannot predict, the courage to predict the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

—Nate Silver

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

The CS3 Team is happy to announce another new foundational support available to community collaborations—the Community-to-Community (C2C) Mentorship Program—and the addition of our new CSD Trainer/Coach, Janet Vargas.

C2C Mentorship is available to individuals that are actively involved in an early childhood community collaboration that are interested in being a mentee and receiving individualized supports from an experienced community collaboration mentor. As a mentee, you will have a chance to build your capacity to lead, hone problem-solving skills, and increase your knowledge of strategies for effective collaboration using an early childhood systems development framework. If you are interested in becoming a mentee, email Kristina Rogers. Feel free to share with others about this new foundational support!

Meet Janet! Janet Vargas joins our team with more than 10 years of experience in community organizing. Her passion and background in family engagement will propel our coaching supports forward and continue the prioritization of family engagement at all levels of community work. Read her full bio here:

Janet Vargas is a Mexican woman and mother. Born and raised on the South side of Chicago, she currently lives in Brighton Park. Janet has over 10 years of experience in community organizing having previously worked on immigration and worker’s rights, as well as youth organizing with a violence prevention focus while at Enlace Chicago in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. She most recently worked as the Lead Organizer at Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI). While at COFI, she trained parents in COFI’s Family Focused Organizing model, a leadership development curriculum which provides comprehensive training and organizing support to develop parent leaders and helps them build organizations to take action on the issues that affect their families. She was also the lead staff on the parent led, statewide, Early Learning and Elementary Justice Campaigns. Janet firmly believes in creating and maintaining systems that work with and for families.

Janet studied Sociology, modified with Public Policy, at Dartmouth College.

The CS3 Team has recently launched several new initiatives. Below is a quick recap of what’s available, and to participate, contact Kristina Rogers.

  • WeConnect, the new online community, is an opportunity to stay connected with other early childhood systems-thinkers across the state and share questions, strategies, and resources. Contact us if you’re interested in forming an online community for your collaboration!
  • On-Demand Consultation allows collaborations to receive up to six hours of consultation on a range of topics from CS3 staff, the Ounce, Chris Foster, Carolyn Newberry Schwartz, and Trish Rooney. We hope you sign up for this free support!
  • Partner Plan Act Collaboration Institute is a year-long training and coaching cohort of early childhood community collaborations working toward strengthening their systems-change efforts. The next application period will begin Spring 2020.

Collaboration Highlight

Better Together: Bensenville/Elmhurst Early Learning Supporters

Good things are happening in DuPage County! Bensenville’s early childhood community collaboration, Bensenville Early Learning Supporters (BELS), combined forces with community organizations in Elmhurst this year to create a new bigger and stronger collaboration: Bensenville/Elmhurst Early Learning Supporters!

The original BELS, headed by Christy Poli from Bensenville School District 2, was already well-established. BELS formed in 2014 and was funded by a Bright & Early DuPage grant from the DuPage Foundation. However, no early childhood collaboration existed in the adjacent community of Elmhurst. Parent educator, Michele Marvucic, (bottom photo) from Elmhurst School District 205 recognized this need. She considered starting a collaboration in Elmhurst but realized that some families attending Elmhurst schools were actually residents of Bensenville. Michele realized it would make more sense to organize cross-community support by approaching BELS to create one, broader collaboration that serves all families with young children in both Bensenville and Elmhurst.

 This broader collaboration now consists of 35 early childhood partners in the areas of education, child care, health, and additional community programs that provide support to families with children ages birth-to- five. With a wider and stronger presence, Bensenville/Elmhurst Early Learning Supporters hopes to make it easier for families to access supports and activities in both communities interchangeably. BELS is a great example of how joining forces together across communities can be powerful and effective in meeting the needs of all families. We look forward to hearing more about their efforts in the future!

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


10 Engaging People with Lived/Living Experience: A Guide for Including People in Poverty Reduction

Members of early childhood collaborations know the importance of engaging those directly impacted by their work—such as families, children and community members—is pivotal to systems change work. Often it means collaborations should include families with lived/living experience of poverty in the community systems work. This guide, available from Tamarack Institute, was written to support groups in engaging people with lived/living experience of poverty. It celebrates the potential that can be unlocked when individuals are included and empowered to drive the work. The guide includes ideas for engaging people with lived/living experience, inspirational stories, useful resources, and ways to get started. It also includes a self-assessment for readiness to engage people with lived/living experience.

Some of their ideas for engaging people with lived/living experience include:

  • Diversity representation and deepen engagement
  • Provide training and mentoring opportunities
  • Share power by opening up decision-making processes
  • Take the time to build trust
  • Consider paying people with lived/living experience for their time

Upcoming Trainings and Events

KIDS Data: A Guide for Community Collaborations Webinar

On October 9, 2019, The Community Systems Statewide Supports team at Illinois Action for Children will host its second KIDS Data: A Guide for Community Collaborations webinar. The webinar will examine the second-year of the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) data and discuss what the results might indicate for your community.

IAFC’s Community Impact Data Analyst, Vanessa Lee, will present on how collaborations can access and analyze the data. The presentation will also include insights from Amber Peters, Collaboration Director for Elgin Partnership for Early Learning, and Pat Chamberlain, Board Chair, as they share how they have used this data to further their collaboration’s work. In addition, Terri Lamb from Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will join us for the webinar and be available for questions related to the KIDS report.


Priority Population Tool Webinar

On October 22, 2019, join the Ounce of Prevention Fund Illinois Policy Team—in partnership with Illinois Action for Children’s Community System Statewide Supports team, ISBE, and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood—for an informative webinar on “priority populations,” as defined by the Illinois Early Learning Council. The webinar will guide participants through an understanding of priority populations, how to form data questions, and finding data sources on specific priority populations. Additionally, you will learn how to create partnerships with community partners to better address the needs of priority populations.


Engaging Families in Early Childhood Collaborations

The Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3) team at Illinois Action for Children is committed to supporting early childhood collaborations in developing and strengthening their family engagement efforts. That is why we are so excited to offer the training, Engaging Families in Early Childhood Collaborations, in Wheaton, IL on December 13, 2019.


Partner Plan Act Annual Conference

Save the date! The 2020 Partner Plan Act Annual Conference will take place in Bloomington, Illinois on June 11 and 12, 2020. Yes, you read that correctly! We heard your feedback from last year’s conference, and we will extend this year’s conference into a second day to allow for even more networking and shared learning for collaborations.

If you think your community or organization is doing great work around community systems and racial equity, we want to hear from you! Please consider submitting a conference breakout session proposal. You can find the application here. Submissions are due December 19, 2019.