May 2020 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

May 6, 2020

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try”

—Atul Gawande

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

The Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3) team has launched the Request for Supports through the Partner Plan Act Collaboration Institute (PPACI)!  This opportunity is for early childhood collaborations interested in receiving free training and technical assistance supports on how to improve local community systems efforts. Please consider applying to be a part of this statewide network!

The Request for Supports will remain open until June 1, 2020 at 5 p.m.

Census 2020


Collaboration Highlight

All in for KIDS:  DeKalb County Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative

dekalbbasics_RGB.pngDeKalb County leaders went “all in for KIDS” in 2014 when the community,including teachers and parents, identified kindergarten-readiness as a top issue. This priority was confirmed when the brand-new KIDS assessment data was collected in 2017: Four of the eight school districts in the county were below the state’s average of 24 percent of students being ready in three key readiness developmental areas. That meant that more than 74 percent of children were not kindergarten-ready in DeKalb County.

A comprehensive data compilation, the DeKalb County Kindergarten Readiness Study (August, 2017), was funded by the DeKalb County Community Foundation and commissioned by the Kindergarten Readiness Work Group which is now known as the DeKalb County Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative (DCKRC). This perspective on the state of children in DeKalb County was a critical step towards understand the gravity of the issue, which children were especially vulnerable, and what actions might be taken.


A pivotal point came in 2017 when three DCKRC members attended the first Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) sponsored statewide conference on KIDS and learned about Boston Basics, an evidence-based intervention designed to promote child development (and kindergarten readiness) for children under age 3. Read an inspiring article about the BASICS as a response to the “achievement gap” here.

Fast forward two years and now Basics DeKalb County has launched a community saturation initiative and has been spreading the message that “80 percent of brain growth happens during the first three years of life.” The Basics’ “five simple, fun, and powerful tools” can be used by parents, caregivers, organizations, community supporters, and more in waiting rooms, in restaurants, at the park, etc.


In January 2020, DeKalb leaders held their first Kindergarten Readiness Community Forum. Attending were 100 people from across this urban and rural county, including early childhood educators, school administrators, home- and center-based child care providers, parents/caregivers, local politicians, and community members. 

With a deep sense of urgency, research, and compelling action steps, the presenters—including representatives from the Regional Office of Education (ROE), ISBE, McCormick Foundation, and Basics DeKalb County—shared their knowledge and asked participants for ideas. All participants were invited to engage in Basics DeKalb County, family members were recruited to join the new Family Council, and organizations were asked to join the DeKalb County Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative. Additional forums in other parts of the county are planned for when the next round of KIDS data is released.  

Following is the list of key institutions that have lead this “all-in” effort and are on the DCKRC Steering Committee, including the DeKalb County ROE, the DeKalb County Community Foundation, the DeKalb County Health Department, the DeKalb County Mental Health Board, and the Community Coordinated Childcare (4-C). Key funders include DeKalb County Community Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and the DeKalb ROE as the backbone organization of the DCKRC and Basics DeKalb County. 

For more information, please contact Amanda Christensen (Superintendent) or Samantha McDavid (Community Outreach for Early Learning) at the DeKalb County Regional Office of Education (ROE). 



COVID-19 Resources for Communities

Stay up-to-date with COVID-19 resources. The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development is the central hub for relevant resources for children, families, providers, and communities. To learn more, click here.  You can also visit Illinois Action for Children’s COVID-19 microsite here for the latest updates on CCAP, essential workers, webinars, and more.

ABLe Change Equity Impact Assessment Tool

ablechange-cs3.pngDeveloped by Drs. Pennie Foster-Fishman and Erin Watson at Michigan State University, the ABLe Change Framework is designed to help communities more effectively address significant social issues affecting children, youth, and families. This model is currently being used in several states to support their efforts to build effective early childhood systems so all children enter school ready to learn. 

ABLe Change has released its own Equity Impact Assessment Tool that organizations and collaborations can use to help identify concrete steps to take to promote equity in the community. Equity assessment tools can help organizations and collaborations understand to what extent their current policies and practices promote or inhibit equity; they can then use the assessment results to guide improvement efforts. ABLe Change also developed a few short videos about equity impact assessments. The first of three is available here.

Upcoming Trainings and Events

Virtual Town Hall: Recruitment and Enrollment

Many of you may be working on how to do recruitment and enrollment in our new reality of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a lot of information available, and it can be hard to filter through all of it to find guidance from funders. On Friday, May 15, 2020 join us to hear the most recent guidance on recruitment and enrollment from both Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Head Start Association and to learn about how different collaborations around the state are adapting to continue recruiting and enrolling families in early childhood programs and services.

Register here!


Engaging Families in Early Childhood Collaborations Virtual Panel

May 26, 2020 at 10 a.m.

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 offering a virtual conversation—the Engaging Families in Early Childhood Collaborations Panel. This virtual event will include collaboration leaders from Chicago and Greater East St. Louis dedicated to this work and they will be sharing their strategies and best practices Join us for this dialogue online!

Register here!


Partner Plan Act Annual Conference

June 8, 2020 – June 12, 2020

Registration is now live for the Partner Plan Act Virtual Summit. The summit includes five days of virtual learning opportunities. Each session is 90 minutes long and will actively engage participants. New York Times Best Selling Author, Ijeoma Oluo is providing the Keynote Address on Thursday, June 11 and on Friday, Chicago United for Equity is moderating a closing panel that will offer participants a chance to hear from leaders at the state, regional, and community levels.

Learn more and register here!