January 2022 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

January 6, 2022

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“Every structure in every society is upheld by the active and passive assistance of other human beings.” – Sonya Renee Taylor

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

Every two years, the CS3 team releases an updated Collaboration Directory. The Collaboration Directory serves as Illinois’ most comprehensive list of early childhood community collaborations advancing community systems development efforts locally. We are reaching out to collaborations to request an update to their collaboration information. If someone from our team has not reached out to you and you want to be included in the directory, please email partnerplanact@actforchildren.org.

We are excited to welcome Hannah Miro to our team! Hannah Miro (any pronouns) graduated from Wheaton college with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Urban Studies. When they started coding in college, they became passionate about computational sociology and showcasing stories through data.

Hannah’s role as Data & Knowledge manager will build on their past experiences with non-profit data analysis and they are so excited to assist communities with using data to convey a unique narrative. Hannah loves rabbit trails, linguistic etymologies, her Pitbull puppy, and learning more about the world each day.

Collaboration Highlight

Effingham Community-Based Planning Group

This month we talked with Johnna Schultz, Assistant Director of the Effingham Public Library, Meghan Rewers, Executive Director of the Crisis Nursery of Effingham County, and Samantha Weidner, Early Childhood Development Director for the Effingham County Health Department. Since January 2021, the three have led a planning group that received funding from Illinois Action for Children’s Community-Based Planning for Expansion (CBP) project as part of the federal Preschool Development Grant.  In partnership with the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, the CBP prepares underserved communities to apply for Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) and childcare funding by providing trainings, systems knowledge, demographic data, and planning capacity.

  1. When and why did the group come together?

Originally, Meghan and Samantha led two discrete groups that served the Effingham community: the Children’s Community Center Planning Group, and the Effingham County Connections Advisory Board. Although both groups sought to support the community in different ways, they saw issues in the early childhood system that they could better address together.

In January of 2021, Samantha and Johnna Schultz joined forces when they wrote for and received funding from the Community-Based Planning for Expansion (CBP) project. They chose Johnna to lead the group, as her role with the public library made her an ideal impartial and unbiased party.

  1. What other stakeholders are involved in the planning group?

The group has found wide support in the community. They have a variety of stakeholders working together on this project, ranging from schools and nonprofits to the chamber of commerce and the local community college.

  1. What was the goal in participating in community-based planning?

One important goal was the establishment of a formal early childhood-focused group that could increase trust and communication among childcare providers. The hope was that the group could pursue funding to increase early care and education slots.

  1. What kind of work did the community-based planning group do?

In order to best plan for how to approach their work, the group wanted to learn about the early care and education landscape in their community. To do that, they surveyed over 250 people in Effingham County who use childcare, as well as held focus groups to obtain important qualitative data. The data they gathered allowed the group to identify what kind of supports were needed.

  1. What did they learn about the community?

They learned that there are not enough early care and education resources for the families of young children in Effingham County.  Over 48% of those surveyed struggle to find adequate childcare. Another 9% struggle to find care between 6pm-6am, which means that parents must juggle their schedules in order to switch off caring for their children. They also found that 47% of families find it much more difficult to find childcare for children between 0-3 years old.

Moreover, they found that there is a staff shortage that greatly impacts Effingham families. During the pandemic, 18 in-home childcare programs closed, and there are 10 classrooms in the community that remain empty due to lack of staffing. That means that there are 800-1,000 children that are not receiving the care and/or education they deserve.

  1. What is the group doing now?

The group is currently working to establish an early childhood committee with the Effingham County Board. They are also advocating for early childhood funding by proposing a two-tier approach to increase and retain the childcare work force. The first tier would provide financial incentives for existing childcare workers to remain in the field. The second tier would recruit and incentivize individuals to open in-home childcare programs.

  1. What is next for this group?

The group hopes to establish a committee that will continue this important early care and education work and conversation at the county level. In the meantime, they will continue to meet monthly to increase communication and build relationships in the community.

We look forward to hearing more about the great things that the Effingham Community-Based Planning Group will no doubt accomplish!


Reflecting on Anti-Bias Education in Action: The Early Years

(photo description: a child looking into a mirror with the text, “What kind of human do you want to be?” printed to the left.)

An excerpt: “A new film, Reflecting on Anti-bias Education in Action: The Early Years (48 minutes), produced by Debbie Lee Keenan and John Nimmo, features vignettes of anti-bias strategies in early childhood classrooms interspersed with teachers reflecting on their practice.  Debbie and John partnered with filmmaker Filiz Efe McKinney of Brave Sprout Productions to create a film that shifts the focus away from the talking heads of experts and on to the voices of teachers committed to equity on a daily basis. By taking viewers into diverse early childhood classrooms, the film seeks to demonstrate the importance of teacher reflection on identity, context, and practice in anti-bias education and provides a much-needed resource for teacher education and professional development. The entire film has closed captions in English, Spanish, and Chinese (simplified characters) which can be turned on by clicking on the CC button to the bottom right of the screen.

Racism has a cost for everyone | Heather C. McGhee

(Photo description: Heather C. McGhee on a stage speaking with her hands together in front of her.)

Racism makes our economy worse — and not just in ways that harm people of color, says public policy expert Heather C. McGhee. From her research and travels across the US, McGhee shares startling insights into how racism fuels bad policymaking and drains our economic potential — and offers a crucial rethink on what we can do to create a more prosperous nation for all. “Our fates are linked,” she says. “It costs us so much to remain divided.” View her Ted talk here.

Training and Events

Intro to Systemic Racism | March 16 – 17, 2022

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 team contracted with Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR) to provide trainings on this important subject. This event will take place virtually over the course of two days, March 16th from 9:00 am -12:30 pm and March 17th from 9:00 am -12:30 pm.

This event’s registration is full. If you’d like to join the waitlist, please complete the form here.

Equity from the Start: Taking Action, Shifting Power | June 7 – 8, 2022

Save the Date! The annual Partner Plan Act conference will take place virtually June 7- 8, 2022. Registration will open in the Spring.