March 2023 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

March 6, 2023
“Race does not biologically exist, yet how we identify with race is so powerful, it influences our experiences and shapes our lives. In a society that privileges white people and whiteness, racist ideas are considered normal throughout our media, culture, social systems, and institutions.” –  “Being Antiracist,” National Museum of African American History and Culture 

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)  

Register for the 2023 Partner Plan Act conference! This three-day virtual event is free and takes place May 16 through May 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST.  

This year’s theme is Equity from the Start: Overcoming Obstacles, Leveraging Opportunities. Last year, we explored taking action and shifting power to on-the-ground providers, community members, parents, and families. This year, we hope to build upon last year’s discussion and get candid about the obstacles sure to arise for stakeholders that are shifting power to parents, providers, community members, and families whose voices have been historically excluded from these conversations. We also hope to discuss opportunities in the sector and ways in which communities have leveraged them.  

To kick us off, Co-Director of Enrich Chicago Nina D. Sánchez, a proud second-generation Chicagoan with roots in Pilsen and Central Mexico will give the opening keynote presentation. The conference will also include breakout sessions that highlight work across Illinois and a panel discussion with agencies across the country also doing community-systems change work. The conference will close with a keynote address from award-winning Activist, Organizer, and Author Ai-Jen Poo. She is the co-founder and executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and head of the Caring Across Generations campaign. 

To ensure inclusivity, the entire conference will include live English to Spanish interpretation and, for the first time ever, Communications Access Real-Time Translation (CART) captions in English and Spanish, and American Sign Language (ASL) upon request. You don’t want to miss this!  

You can find our registration page, information about keynote speakers, sessions descriptions, and more here. The conference qualifies for Gateways and Early Childhood Professional Learning credits. For ASL or other accommodations, please email Kristen at by Friday, April 14. We will do our best to meet additional accommodation requests.  

Collaboration Highlight 

This month we want to highlight the Community-Based Planning for Expansion project, led by Assistant Director of Regional Community Systems Brittain Ayres. Please read below for a detailed summary of the project.  

As part of the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five and in partnership with the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) implemented the Community-Based Planning for Expansion (CBP) project. The CBP project was developed in response to over 20 years of data that consistently showed high unmet needs for early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in certain communities. Between 2020 and 2022, the CBP project provided support to seven planning groups to strengthen community systems and identify community-level applicants for federal and state funding.  


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The CBP project supplied communities with systems knowledge, demographic data, and planning capacity to plan for how they would take advantage of projected increases in ECEC funding. The goal of the three-year project was to promote the readiness of the participating communities to compete successfully for funding to expand publicly funded ECEC services. 

What is community-based planning? 

Community-based planning is a collaborative process designed to expand access and develop new high-quality early childhood education and care programs in communities with unmet need through a guided planning process. The purpose of the process is to plan for expanding early childhood education and care services intentionally and proactively, specifically for publicly funded services. This leads to an understanding of a community’s need for services, which services parents want and need, and how programs can partner and coordinate to better serve children and families. Community-based planning can also strengthen relationships among stakeholders, develop local leadership, and foster community ownership of recommendations. 

Why engage in community-based planning? 

In an authentic community-based planning process, there needs to be an emphasis on including parents and the general community as much as possible. For too long, providers, grant funders, grant recipients, local government officials, and other groups make decisions on behalf of families and their communities. Sometimes policy or practice does not result in the outcomes intended because marginalized groups are excluded from the process. At times even more harm is done to those with the least access to resources and opportunities. To prevent this, families must be a part of the process.  

Benefits of the planning process 

  • Build trust and relationships among community stakeholders  

  • Better tailor services and increase possibilities to serve families  

  • Better align services to community needs  

  • Understand what services parents need and what barriers they face in accessing existing services 

While a plan for expanding ECEC services was the main goal of the project, community-based planning groups used this collaborative process to: 

  • Increase awareness about ECEC services in their communities 

  • Involve new and existing stakeholders in conversations about ECEC services  

  • Engage parents and community members in planning for ECEC services 

  • Improve or develop programs to expand ECEC workforce  

  • Develop partnerships between ECEC programs to better serve children and families 

  • Plan for opening new ECEC programs or centers 

If you are interested in learning more about the community-based planning project, the Community-Based Planning Resource Guide will be released later this spring. Any questions can be sent to 


EmbraceRace was founded in early 2016 by two parents who set out to create community and resources on racial learning in early childhood for young children, parents, grandparents, caregivers, and educators. Resources include online community of learning, webinars, discussions, and online research networks. 

EmbraceRace provides Action Guides on a wide range of topics for parents, families, and providers. They include how to have conversations with children on issues such as race and microaggressions. They provide recommendations on books that feature diverse, BIPOC characters. The guides also feature parenting tips on topics such as transracial adoption and development of young activists. 

Trainings and Events  

Collaboration Data Sharing | Thursday, April 13 

The CS3 Team is excited to announce its new data sharing workshop! The Collaboration Data Sharing training is presented by our Data and Knowledge Manager Hannah Miro and Coach Carolyn Newberry Schwartz. This virtual session will be held on April 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. We hope you attend this free event that focuses on informing ways to manage and share data with your community. Click here to register.  


This virtual workshop will offer basic information on aggregated data sharing and ways for collaborations to utilize this method to monitor strategy progress. This workshop will also offer participants the opportunity to engage with case scenarios to increase understanding of how this approach strengthens community knowledge, hones efforts, informs work, and deepens impact. 

Email with any questions. 

Equity from the Start: Overcoming Obstacles, Leveraging Opportunities | Tuesday, May 16 through Thursday, May 18