April 2019 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

April 6, 2019

“Transforming a system is really about transforming the relationships between people who make up the system…simply bringing people into relationship can create huge impact.” -The Water of Systems Change

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

The Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3) team has launched the Request for Supports through the Partner Plan Act Collaboration Institute (PPACI)!  This opportunity is for early childhood collaborations interested in receiving free training and technical assistance supports on how to improve local community systems efforts. We hope you consider applying to be a part of this statewide network! The Request for Supports will remain open until May 31, 2019 at 5 p.m.

The CS3 team further developed additional opportunities for anyone interested in community systems to learn and grow their knowledge and skillset:

  • Visit our newly redesigned Partner Plan Act website;
  • Attend upcoming regional trainings throughout the state on topics related to community systems;
  • Engage in an online community – Coming later this month!

Share your input! One of CS3s core areas of work is to collaborate and coordinate with other state agencies. Illinois Head Start Association and the CS3 team want to know whether Head Start/Early Head Start programs are engaged in your local community’s collaboration. Please take this five-minute survey. If Head Start programs exist in your community, but you aren’t connected to them, IHSA and CS3 are happy to make the introduction. Complete the survey today!

Collaboration Highlight

“Little Youth Dental Health Day:” Bringing Partners Together to Support Families

Wheaton/Warrenville Early Childhood Collaborative (WWECC) recognized the challenges families with young children face in accessing affordable dental care and follow-up treatment after initial visits. The WWECC, in partnership with Dr. Eric Jackson, DDS of the Oral Healthcare professionals, LLC, wrote a grant through the Chicago Dental Society Foundation for $5,000 to offer a free dental health screening day for families and a professional development event for early child care providers.

The Little Youth Dental Health Day took place at Metropolitan Family Services in Wheaton in July 2018. Dr. Jackson and his team brought dental screening supplies, a portable dental chair, and dental giveaways for families. A total of 59 children from 29 families received an oral dental screening, tailored dental education, and resources including age-appropriate toothbrushes, toothpaste, tooth timers, and an activity board book to encourage brushing. WWECC leveraged this event to provide additional early childhood services and supports to families. They registered 32 children for Early Head Start and 23 children received health screenings for hearing and vision.

Additionally, through this grant, WWECC and Dr. Jackson held a professional development event in June 2018 for more than 40 early childhood providers — including those in Prevention Initiative, Head Start, and Early Head Start. The training focused on how to talk to families about the importance of dental care, finding a dentist, and seeking additional treatment after their initial visit.

The Little Youth Dental Health Day demonstrates the positive impacts that can be made when different stakeholders work together for the benefit of children and families in their community.

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


Looking for a Good “Read” about Systems Change?

The Water of System-Change (FSG, June 2018) is a 20-page, thought-provoking “read,” written by John Kania, Mark Kramer, and Peter Senge — three national leaders on systems change and collective impact. While the report is aimSix Conditionsed at foundations, there are plenty of useful definitions and a framework that inspires analysis and action for anyone working on systems change issues. 

The authors note that “despite all the attention, and a long tradition of academic study, the concept [of systems change] and its implications for funders and grantees can still seem hard to grasp and apply.” They define the system as the water that we all swim in, but have difficulty seeing.  And, they share this useful definition: “Systems change is about shifting the conditions that are holding the problem in place.”

What are the conditions holding the problem in place? The authors posit six interdependent conditions of system change, as depicted in the inverted triangle image here. Throughout the report, the six conditions are defined and rich examples are supplied, including action-oriented ideas. 

Noting that blind spots are common in systems change, the authors engaged equity consultants to assure that equity issues were addressed within each condition.

If you are looking for new ways to explain systems change, or how to sustain your work, you may find inspiration in this report. Better yet, read this resource as a professional learning community and discuss it with your colleagues! 

Friendly Reminders: How to Obtain Free Birth Certificates for Children Experiencing Homelessness 

Birth certificates should not be a barrier to enrolling children in early childhood programs or other services. The cost ($15-$30) can be a substantial barrier for families experiencing homelessness.

The Illinois State Legislature requires that free birth certificates be provided to people experiencing homelessness. The law requires that a service provider sign a statement verifying the applicant’s homeless status. Learn more about the policy here and use this form for Cook County families. 

Free birth certificates = more priorities families enrolled in early learning programs!

Upcoming Trainings and Events

The Illinois Risk and Reach Project Webinar

The CS3 team will be joined by Dr. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Director of Policy at Erikson Institute on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 from 1-2 p.m. for a webinar on the Illinois Risk and Reach project. Participants will be introduced to the Illinois Risk and Reach Project and explore how they can use the data in their work. This webinar is tailored for early childhood collaboration members interested in learning more about how to use this data in their communities.

Register here!

Engaging Families in Early Childhood Community Collaborations


We held successful family engagement trainings in February and early April, and we’re excited to offer two additional trainings on this important topic in May. These trainings will help participants identify strategies to reach priority populations, empower parents, and sustain a welcoming environment for families.

Join our next Engaging Families in Early Childhood Community Collaborations trainings:

Building Systems that Work for Families: Training for Community Systems Leaders

Join the Ounce of Prevention Fund Illinois Policy Team — in partnership with Illinois Action for Children’s Community System Statewide Supports team, Illinois State Board of Education, and the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood — for a full-day training for early childhood community systems leaders.

This four-part training is grounded in a framework for systems integration and alignment that focuses on reaching children and families with more complex needs. The training will feature a session on best practices in systems integration and alignment followed by two topical sessions on early childhood mental health and immigration. This free training is offered twice in May:

  • Urbana, Illinois (May 7, 2019)
  • Naperville, Illinois (May 16, 2019)

Register here!

2019 Partner Plan Act Conference: Equity from the Start

Registration for the 2019 Partner Plan Act Conference is now open! The conference will take place in Bloomington, Illinois on June 11, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. This annual conference brings early childhood system stakeholders to learn, network, and deepen their community systems knowledge and skills.

Register now!