February 2020 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

February 6, 2020

“Liberated relationships are one of the ways we actually create abundant justice, the understanding that there is enough attention, care, resource, and connection for all of us to access belonging, to be in our dignity, and to be safe in community.”

—Adrienne Maree Brown

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

On January 24, 2020, the CS3 team launched the Community-to-Community (C2C) Mentorship Program. The purpose of the C2C mentorship program is to facilitate the building of knowledge and skills that are often unique to early childhood collaborations and community systems building. Seven pairs of mentors and mentees were selected to participate in this six-month pilot:

  1. Amber Peters, (Elgin Partnership for Early Learning) / Ann Oswalt (Crawford, Jasper, Clay, and Lawrence Counties)
  2. Aminah Wyatt-Jones (Chicago and South Suburbs) / Linda Mitchell (Greater East St. Louis)
  3. Kassia Eide (SPARK Aurora) / Gloria Perez (Palatine Early Learning Alliance)
  4. Kelia Guyton (DuPage Early Childhood Collaboration / Elaine Rodgers (Greater East St. Louis)
  5. Linda Rios (Cicero AOK) / Sue Ripley (Macon County Early Childhood Collaboration)
  6. Mary Haley (Addison Early Childhood Collaborative) / Rhonda Hilyer (Knox, Warren, Henderson, and Mercer Counties)
  7. Trish Rooney (SPARK Aurora) / Jenny West (Round Lake)

If you are interested in being a mentor or mentee in the future, contact Grace Araya. The next cohort will start in July 2020.

Are you interested in honing your collaboration’s family engagement skills? Our On-Demand Consultation can help! On-Demand Consultation offers up to six hours of one-on-one help with a variety of topics. Learn more and submit a request for supports here.

Collaboration Highlight

The Palatine Early Learning Alliance (PELA) was part of the first cohort of early childhood community collaborations to participate in the Partner Plan Act Collaboration Institute. As one of the collaborations receiving Advancing Supports, PELA was tasked with understanding the problem that they were looking to address from the point of view of the community. They decided the best way to do that was to create a survey specifically for parents and child care providers, and the results were fantastic! They were able to collect 384 surveys that ultimately helped shape their strategy.

We asked the PELA team—Natalie Rodriguez, Kristen Ford, Jenny Garcia-Macko, and Gloria Perez—a few questions about their successful systems’ scan experience and here’s what they had to say:

Q: What did you want to find out through these surveys?

A: We wanted to do a few things:

  • Confirm and quantify the local need for child care. as some people did not believe there was really a need.
  • Present the discrepancy between what providers saw versus what parents saw.
  • Find out how many child care providers are bilingual.
  • Find out the licensing status and licensing needs of child care providers.

Q: Who was your target audience?

A: For the parent surveys our target was all parents in Palatine School District 15 with children from birth to third grade. For the child care provider surveys we targeted the park district, Head Start, YMCA, and other non-profit centers.

Q: How long was your survey window?

A: Initially the window was two weeks, but we extended it to about one month to get as many surveys as possible. We also continued to accept them beyond the survey window.

Q: In what format or platform did you distribute your surveys?

A: A couple of people from our team visited licensed child care providers and did the surveys as interviews. Home visitors and other staff from our respective agencies took paper copies into the community in both English and Spanish, sometimes meeting with small groups of parents to complete it together. Electronically, QR codes to the survey were put on flyers in English and Spanish, Conyers Learning Academy in SD 15 emailed it, and it was available on the Bilingual Parent Advisory Council (BPAC) website.

Q: How did you analyze the surveys?

A: We entered data from every survey into Google Sheets and that provided a lot of charts and analytics. We also coded all the open-ended questions ourselves.

Q: What did you find out from the surveys?

A: We found out a lot:

  • The lack of child care options is really affecting the ability of parents to work or go back to school—ultimately negatively impacting their financial mobility.
  • Some parents did not know about options available to them like CCAP.
  • There is strong preference for childcare in a center setting, yet the most popular form of child care is having one parent stay at home. Parents would like to take their children to a center, but they cannot afford it.
  • Ultimately, we found out that lack of knowledge about child care is a problem for both parents and child care providers.

Q: What were you particularly proud of with regard to your survey collection?

A: We were proud of the number of surveys we received and also by the diversity of people whose first language is not English, but who answered in English.

Q: In retrospect, is there anything you would’ve done differently?

A: We probably would’ve changed the timing of the surveys to fall or spring. We sent them out in the summer and it was difficult to reach child care providers. Also, there were no children with which we could send surveys home.

Q: How did the survey results guide the rest of your work in the Collaboration Institute?

A: It was great to have current local data, instead of relying on older data that is publicly available. The results of our surveys fueled us. We saw that every family we surveyed had some sort of problem with child care, whether with cost or just a general lack of knowledge. We decided we needed a place to make this information accessible to families in our community, which led to the creation of our strategy: to develop a website for parents that will centralize and simplify local child care resources.

Census 2020

Help us get a fair and accurate picture of our community

census2020-ppa.jpgIllinois Action for Children is getting out the count for Census 2020! The Census is an official count of the population that happens every 10 years and is used to determine how much money goes to states and communities and determine a state’s political power. In our community, we believe everyone counts. Let’s have an accurate count that includes everyone in 2020—especially our young children.

As an early childhood collaboration, you can help to make sure everyone gets counted in the Census by raising awareness, sharing information, and engaging families to complete the Census questionnaire. As trusted messengers, families are most likely to respond to you. For more information on the Census, visit us at Illinois Action for Children or contact Census2020@actforchildren.org to find out how you can help locally!


State-Funded Preschool Availability in Illinois Depends Upon Where You Live: An Equity Analysis of ISBE Pre-K Resources

This research report, initiated by Dr. Theresa Hawley and produced by Dr. David Alexander and Marcia Stoll of Illinois Action for Child’s Sylvia Cotton Center for Policy Innovation, examines how equitable access is to high-quality, affordable early childhood programs in Illinois.

We have more evidence than ever before that educating and caring for our youngest children lays the foundation for their future life success—but too many roadblocks stand in the way of families being able to access quality early learning programs from birth through preschool that are both convenient and affordable.

This latest report seeks to answer the question “Who gets to go to preschool in Illinois?” Learn more with the full length research report, executive summary, and research report brief.

Upcoming Trainings and Events

Beyond the Basics: Facilitation Mindsets and Practices for CSD | Bloomington

On February 21, 2020, join Chris Foster from Foster What Matters, Inc. and the CS3 team for Beyond the Basics: Facilitation Mindsets and Practices for Community Systems Development. The complex nature of leading community systems development efforts requires an expanded repertoire of leadership, facilitation, and system thinking capacities. In this workshop, you will strengthen your abilities to convene meetings that deepen engagement, foster shared agreement, and generate aligned collective action. A combination of traditional facilitation and art of hosting practices will be offered for designing and facilitating effective meetings. Participants will also receive a copy of the book, “Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making”.

For more information and to register, click here.

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. As part of this commitment, we are excited to offer the training, No Decisions About us Without Us: How Service Providers Can Empower Families through Authentic Engagement, in East St. Louis on April 24, 2020. Register today!

Partner Plan Act Annual Conference

Save the date! The 2020 Partner Plan Act Annual Conference will take place in Bloomington, IL on June 11 and 12, 2020. This annual conference is FREE and a great opportunity for all those working on community systems within the early childhood sector. This year, our conference theme is Equity from the Start: Shifting from Intentions to Outcomes. We want to continue the conversation around racial equity and ensure that it is explicitly embedded in all of the work we do.

To help us with that discussion, author Ijeoma Oluo joins us as the conference keynote, best known for her book, So You Want to Talk About Race.