February 2021 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

February 6, 2021

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“Strategies and programs can help people manage the effects of these injustices, but they don’t overcome or cure them. Policies, conversely, actually shift the way communities and their members react and relate to one another, empowering people to improve their own well-being in a systematic way. We can only achieve equity for all in America through collective commitment to policy intervention and a clearly articulated picture of success.”

—Starsky Wilson

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

The CS3 team is providing a unique opportunity for community systems development leaders across the state – don’t miss out! The CS3 program will sponsor a few leaders to attend the Collective Impact Virtual Convening on April 27-29, 2021 at the full cost of registration. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from others across the nation that are practicing collective impact! You can find out more about the conference.

We will register folks on a first come, first serve basis. Respond quickly if you are interested in taking advantage of this professional development opportunity by submitting your interest form. The CS3 team will contact you to inform you if you are selected.

Collaboration Highlight

Background on The Little Village Education Collaborative (Chicago)

The Little Village Education Collaborative (LVEC) was established in 2014 to focus on the implementation of the educational strategies of the 2013 Little Village Quality of Life Plan. The collaborative aims to expand educational access and opportunity from birth to old age for Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. The Early Childhood Education Committee of this collaborative aims to increase early childhood education enrollment and quality.

Parent Ambassadors Become Community Information Resource Hubs

During the pandemic, the Little Village Education Collaborative quickly realized that they had to do things a little differently to adapt to the changing needs and growing challenges. As the collaborative’s parent ambassadors were conducting community outreach, they found that families were looking to them for information and supports beyond enrollment in early childhood education programs. Parents had questions about all their family needs, including but not limited to early childhood education, supporting their children with remote learning, navigating parent surveys, and accessing medical care.

The Parent Ambassadors and staff rose to the occasion and became the much-needed resource information hubs for Little Village families. As they continued their community outreach, the ambassadors listened to families and referred them to resources that might best fit their needs.

In fact, the collaborative went the extra step to make sure that families were referred to appropriate supports and did not fall through the cracks. Collaboration members went through professional development with community-based childcare providers to learn about their services, their requirements, and identified one person at each site to do warm hand-offs to.

Joining Forces with the Alderman to Help Families Fill Out the Early Learning Application

The collaborative realized that although there was a concerted effort to support the basic needs of Little Village families most affected by the pandemic, the in-person support that families need to access the services was limited by social distancing requirements. For instance, parent ambassadors heard from countless parents about how they struggled to fill out the online application to enroll their children in 3 and 4-year-old preschool. Some of the parents shared that they tried going to their local school for help but were turned away due to pandemic guidelines.

The collaborative joined forces with Alderman Michael Rodriguez to use his office as a safe community space that families can show up for in-person help to complete the application process. The work group also created a checklist of documents that families needed to bring with them. By talking to families directly, the collaborative also gained new information about parent’s knowledge of the enrollment process. For instance, some parents did not know that they needed to reapply for preschool every year and were not reapplying again for their child. The parent ambassadors learned that while they were able to provide virtual and social distanced supports to families, the safe community space initiative highlighted how much talking to families and engaging them in meaningful conversations helps them understand more the challenges and issues families are facing in early childhood.

The Little Village Education Collaborative has and will continue to share insights gained through their work with the school district and relevant city and state agencies. They also look forward to reevaluating the Quality of Life Plan to include any early care and education needs that may have stemmed from the pandemic. Learn more about their work.

If your community collaboration would like to be highlighted in a future e-newsletter, please email partnerplanact@actforchildren.org.


Start with Equity: From the Early Years to the Early Grades


Millions of young children are disproportionately underserved, over-punished, and barred from high-quality education in American schools. The Children’s Equity Project and the Bipartisan Policy Center created an actionable policy roadmap for states and the federal government to take meaningful steps to remedy these inequities in early learning and education systems.

The report uses the lens of three policy areas:

  • Disproportionate application of harsh discipline practices
  • Lack of inclusion of students with disabilities in general classrooms
  • Inequitable and inadequate access to dual language programming.

Included are concrete recommendations for policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels so that they can take immediate, meaningful steps towards dismantling these inequities for good.

Avoiding Racial Equity Detours


Individuals, collaborations, and communities across the country are grappling with what it means to do racial equity work. Paul Gorski’s article “Avoiding Racial Equity Detours” explores how detours create an illusion of progress toward equity while cementing, or even exacerbating, inequity. The article describes four racial equity detours followed by five equity principles that can help avoid these detours and build a more transformational racial equity approach. While reading the article, it can be helpful to reflect on how your collaboration or community engages in equity detours and ways to move forward using the equity principles shared.

This resource, along with many others, can be found on our Partner Plan Act website on the Racial Equity Resources webpage.

Trainings and Events

Spring into Action

Now – May 28, 2021 (12 -1p.m.)

Register now for a very special, virtual 24th annual Spring Into Action 2021! We are hosting virtual workshops organized by Illinois Action for Children’s Public Policy, Research and Advocacy team. Each week of our Friday Action Hour Series we are hosting host an hour-long presentation on state and federal policies, COVID-19 updates, workforce reform, advocacy communications, funding reform, and many more topics from our partner organizations! Join us and let your voice be heard!

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 five-part series of workshops to address this need. If you did not attend the first Governance Workshop* (10.28.2020), please contact Kim Zalent before registering for the upcoming workshops.

Tamarack Institute Workshops

The CS3 program partnered with the Tamarack Institute to provide a “Week of Webinars” in November 2020. The webinars were designed to build communities’ capacity to advance systems change.

Tamarack Institute will also be conducting in-depth workshops on a range of topics that may support your collaboration or individual growth.

Upcoming training:

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.