December 2020 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

December 6, 2020

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

—Audre Lorde

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

Happy Holidays from the CS3 team! We hope that you are finding new ways to celebrate the holidays during the pandemic and prioritizing rest for yourself at the end of a stressful year. We are optimistic that 2021 will bring new opportunities for connection, growth, and systems change—and we look forward to working with all of you in the new year.

As we look ahead to 2021, there is a call for RFPs! Due to the unpredictable nature of COVID-19, the CS3 team will host its annual Partner Plan Act conference virtually the week of June 7, 2021. If 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 18, 2020. Additionally, if you are interested in joining the conference Advisory Committee, please reach out to Kristina Rogers.

Community Parenting Saturation Project Awardees Announced

On November 11, 2020, Illinois Action for Children announced the recipients of the Community Parenting Saturation program. We would like to extend our own congratulations to the three organizations selected to be part of this competitive and innovative new project—Fox Valley United Way’s SPARK Early Childhood Collaboration (Aurora/Kane County), Alignment Rockford (Rockford), and Carole Robertson Center for Learning (North Lawndale, Chicago).

Some of these communities have been active and involved in our community systems development work, including Trish Rooney who currently serves as a Coach and Mentor for CS3 program. The North Lawndale Early Learning Collaboration went through our Partner Plan Act Collaboration Institute and will be a local partner with the Carole Robertson Center for Learning on this project.

We’re excited to see what the three communities will achieve for families with young children in the upcoming years! Learn more about the Community Parenting Saturation project.

Collaboration Highlight

“New Kid” on the Fox Valley River: The St. Charles Early Learning Partnership

The Fox River Valley is home to many Illinois early childhood collaborations, including the Kane County All Our Kids Network (1999); Kane County Home Visit Collaborative (KCHVC) (2000); SPARK Early Childhood Collaboration (2012); Elgin Partnership for Early Learning (2012); and recently, in 2018, PAASSS (Plano Area Alliance Supporting Student Success), located in the southern part of the region.

The newest Fox River Valley “kid” is the St. Charles Early Learning Partnership. Inspired by its predecessors, the Partnership formed in June 2019 and applied to the Partner Plan Act Collaboration Institute as one of its first actions. Located in the north-central part of the region, its service boundaries align with St. Charles CUSD 303 boundaries and include the city of St. Charles and portions of West Chicago, South Elgin, Elburn, Wayne, Campton Hills, Wasco, and unincorporated Kane County.

The Partnership’s vision is “Equity and access for ALL so children are healthy and ready to learn” and it focuses on children, prenatal to age 8, and their families. Only 25 percent of CUSD 303’s entering kindergarteners are prepared for kindergarten according to the Illinois KIDS assessment. The community includes 4,102 total children ages 5 years and under with 380 limited English-speaking households (238 of these Spanish-speaking); 492 children ages 5 and under living at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and 73 at or below 50 percent of the FPL (based on Census data).

As a new collaboration, the Partnership’s leadership team believes that it is critical to ensure that families play a central role in informing and building the collaboration. Using an equity lens, foundational work is underway to identify a comprehensive list of diverse stakeholders across this large district. This list is used to guide the development of a listening and collaborative-building campaign, using surveys and small focus groups to gather input. This campaign has been adjusted for COVID safety. The campaign’s purpose is to identify interested community members and parents and to learn what is working well for young children and where there are opportunities to improve.

The leadership team recognizes that while their journey hasn’t always been smooth, steady progress has been made. Even as the COVID pandemic shut down schools and organizations starting in March 2020, the Leadership Team pressed forward to submit a proposal to the Fox Valley United Way. Their proposal entailed a year-long collaboration-building plan, an agreement by the CUSD 303 School Board to serve as the Partnership fiscal sponsor, additional in-kind supports from the St. Charles Public Library, Family Focus-DuPage, and the school district, expanding the Leadership Team, and creating a Partnership Charter Agreement.

In July 2020, the Partnership learned that its proposal was funded for $8,000. They are the first emerging collaboration to be funded as part of FVUW’s strategy to build an early childhood coordinated system in Fox Valley. While the St. Charles Early Learning Partnership is the “new kid,” we can expect great things to come!

For more information, please contact: Tricia Sabathne, Early Childhood (EC) Child and Family Educator.

If you would like your collaboration’s work to be highlighted in the Partner Plan Act Newsletter, please email us at


Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) 2019-2020 Data

The Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) is a tool used by teachers to assess the readiness of children entering kindergarten in Illinois. This data provides information for teachers, administrators, families, and policymakers in Illinois to act earlier in a child’s educational journey and more precisely to provide the supports and opportunities necessary to achieve success in school and beyond.

The 2019-2020 statewide readiness results were released this fall and found that 29 percent of all children were on track in the three developmental areas of social and emotional development, language and literacy development, and math as compared with 26 percent from fall of 2018. The report broke down readiness into different subgroups including by race/ethnicity, students with/without Individualized Education Programs, English Learners and non-English Learner students, and students with/without

Free or Reduced Price Lunch. To view the 2019 data by subgroup and more information, find the fall 2019 report. To view the fall 2017- 2019 data in spreadsheet form by school district or to find previous report releases, go to the ISBE KIDS website and select the Public Data Reports tab.

A Pandemic within a Pandemic: How Coronavirus and Systemic Racism Are Harming Infants and Toddlers of Color

Infants and toddlers are experiencing the COVID pandemic during a critical developmental period, and yet their needs have been virtually absent from policy conversations around the virus. A new brief by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) unpacks the impacts of systemic racism on children’s development and describes how the coronavirus pandemic has magnified pervasive inequities in health, education, employment, and other factors across race and ethnicity. The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated long-standing problems with policies across the range of needs for infants, toddlers, and their families.

To address these shortfalls, they recommend a combination of immediate, COVID-specific actions and longer-term policy reform. These recommendations span federal and state policies. The brief recommends centering the voices of people with lived experiences to tackle historically racist and discriminatory policies and address the dual crises this country is currently experiencing in a way that best meets the needs of those who are most harmed.

Trainings and Events

Governance Workshop Series

A widely-watched BUILD Institute video, which describes the promise of early childhood community systems building, asks the question: “What would happen if we all worked together on behalf of kids? Everyone!” As many collaborations know, working together as one and achieving results is easier said than done—and governance is often the missing ingredient.

The CS3 team has developed a 5-part series of workshops to address this need. Individuals should only register if they’ve attended the first Governance Workshop Early Childhood Community Systems Develop and Collaboration: The “What” and the “How” that took place in October 2020.

Tamarack Institute: “Tamarack Workshops”

The CS3 program partnered with the Tamarack Institute to provide a “Week of Webinars” in November. The webinars were designed to build communities’ capacity to advance systems change.

Tamarack Institute will also be conducting in-depth workshops starting in January.

In addition, Tamarack Institute will offer coaching sessions to participants as a follow up to the workshops. Those dates will be scheduled at the time of the training.

Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR) Trainings: Intro to Systemic Racism

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 program partnered with Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR) to provide trainings on this important and timely issue.

During this training, participants will build a common definition of racism and explore the historic development of institutional racism in the US. They will examine ongoing realities of racism including the identity-shaping power racism has on People of Color and White people; explore racism’s individual, institutional and cultural manifestations; and consider the link between racism and other forms of oppression. A strategic methodology to dismantle racism will be introduced, focusing specifically on applying principles of community organizing and social change.

We have one upcoming training available:

Participation is extremely limited, so please only register if you know that you can attend.