June 2019 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

June 6, 2019

“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” –Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

We have extended the deadline to June 21, 2019 for submitting a Request for Supports through the Partner Plan Act Collaboration Institute (PPACI). If your community is interested in applying, contact Grace Araya to set up a consultation call. It’s a great opportunity to develop and strengthen your local community’s early childhood system and to meet others across the state. Find out more and download the Request for Supports here.

In addition to the coaching, training, and consultation provided to Collaboration Institute communities, the CS3 team has also strengthened its supports for communities statewide. One way the CS3 project broadened its resources throughout Illinois is by developing and launching our new online community, WeConnect! This online community will be a forum for early childhood collaboration members to ask questions, discuss early childhood issues, and share strategies. If you are interested in learning more about the online community or becoming a member, please email Kristina Rogers, Project Manager.

We are seeking some input from you as we work to develop a community-to-community peer mentorship program. Please help us frame this program by taking this three minute survey.

Collaboration Highlight

The Early Childhood Forum of Central Illinois: Fifteen Years of Legislative ’Happenings’ For the past 15 years, the Early Childhood Forum of Central Illinois has held an annual spring event—a Legislative ‘Happening’ Hour—to promote relationship-building between state and federal legislators and its members. The Forum covers all of central Illinois, including Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford Counties.

This is an impressive track record for a collaboration that started in 1998 as a STARNET initiative to form an agency collaboration to support inclusion and IEPs. With a membership that now consists of more than 30 agencies and organizations, the collaboration operates with no paid staff— instead, they use a shared leadership model. Different agencies take turns serving in leadership positions, and serving on three sub-committees — Preschool for All Directors Group, Peoria Education Partners, and a Birth-to-Three Committee.

To plan the Legislative ‘Happening” Hour, a small committee is formed well in advance of the annual spring legislative event to ensure that the event can be scheduled around the legislative calendar and the needs of the legislators. A creative and timely theme is chosen, with consideration given to pressing legislative issues. An important takeaway for the legislators is a “book,” which includes information about each Forum member and Forum initiatives. If a legislator is new, the Forum meets with the legislator in advance to introduce the coalition, brief him/her on the event, and dialogue about how the legislator can support early childhood programs and initiatives in their district.

Seven (of eight possible) state and federal legislators have attended the event in the past 15 years, and many have attended multiple times. Attendance has ranged over the years from 50 to 100 guests.

When a state budget crisis affected CCAP funding, Early Intervention, and other early childhood programs, the theme of the Happening Hour was “The Domino Effect,” educating legislators about how this these funding cuts had cascading effects throughout the community. During an Olympic year the theme was “Going for the Gold,” and attending legislators received award to recognize their support of early childhood programs.

This year’s theme, in a nod to the State of Illinois’ 200th founding anniversary, was “The Next 200 Years.” Legislators were asked to share their thoughts about what the new Governor’s recent budget (and budget address) would mean concretely for Peoria County. Two legislators attended this year: Representative Ryan Spain (R-IL House District 73) and Representative Keith Sommer (R-Il House District 106).

Congratulations to the Forum! This is an excellent example of how collaborations can engage in advocacy efforts locally and develop new advocates for early childhood!

For more information, please contact Erin Stout, Past President, Early Childhood Forum of Central Illinois.

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


The early childhood system is complex – comprised of different programs and funding streams. Sometimes, it may be hard to understand the early childhood system and how to best serve young children and families in Illinois. Through the generous support of the Boeing Company, Illinois Action for Children produced Pieces of the Puzzle: Understanding the Early Childhood System — a series of eight videos, each providing an overview of a different part of the early childhood system. The videos are intended to help parents, individuals, and organizations that work with families and young children understand how they can best identify and access helpful services.

Each two-minute video provides a brief overview of the following programs that are part of the early childhood system.

View the videos, access fact sheets and tips here.

Upcoming Trainings and Events

June is a busy month with many opportunities for professional development through, conferences, trainings, and webinars. To learn more about each, click here.

  • June 11: 2019 Partner Plan Act Conference: Equity from the Start
  • June 21: Beyond the Basics: Facilitation Mindsets and Practices for Community Systems Development, featuring Chris Foster from Foster What Matters, Inc

Building Systems that Work for Families: Webinar Series for Community Systems Leaders (Presented by the Ounce of Prevention Fund)

  • June 14: Best Practices in Systems Integration and Alignment
  • June 19: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
  • June 19: Child Find Project: Developmental Screening Data
  • June 26: Immigration & Early Childhood: What Should We Know and How Can We Best Support?