November 2019 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

November 6, 2019

“We need to stop treating racial equity trainings like 8 hour degree courses, and start viewing them as continuing education opportunities.”


Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

The CS3 Team is thrilled to announce the launch of another new foundational support available to anyone interested in community systems: On-Demand Learning.

CS3 On-Demand Learning provides free courses to help early childhood community collaboration members deepen their knowledge of community systems and understand the essential ingredients of systems-thinking. Our first course focuses on data and explores data collection, analysis, storytelling, and more.

Each year, we will introduce new learning courses tailored to the needs of local communities across Illinois. You can access these with the same login and password that you use to access the online community, WeConnect. If you do not have a WeConnect account, you can complete the form here to request to join our online community and resources. Not only is the course interactive and educational, but you can also receive Gateways Registry professional development credits for completing the course in its entirety.

We are still seeking mentees for the Community-Community (C2C) Mentorship Program! The program will launch in January and run through June 2020. It’s a great opportunity to receive individualized support to build your capacity to lead, hone problem-solving skills, and increase your knowledge of strategies for effective collaboration using an early childhood systems development framework. To learn more and complete an application, contact Kristina Rogers, Project Manager.

Our annual Partner Plan Act conference is scheduled for June 11 and 12, 2020, in Bloomington, IL. This annual conference is FREE and a great opportunity for all those working on community systems within the early childhood sector. This year, our conference title is Equity from the Start: Shifting from Intentions to Outcomes. We want to continue the conversation around racial equity and ensure that it is explicitly embedded in all of the work we do.

If you think your community or organization is doing great work around community systems and racial equity, we want to hear from you! Please consider submitting a conference breakout session proposal. You can find the application here. Submissions are due December 19, 2019.

Collaboration Highlight

If you would like to have your collaboration’s work highlighted, please email

Oak Park Collaboration for Early Childhood brings No Small Matter to the big screen!

For several years, the Oak Park community has been engaged in a dialogue around equity and the ways in which resources can be leveraged to improve the quality of education. In 2018, they held a village-wide dialogue centered on America to Me: a documentary that outlined potential issues around equitable access to educational opportunities for children in high school. That conversation led to organic discussions around early childhood.

Oak_Park_Picture_1.jpgOne year later, the Oak Park Collaboration for Early Childhood is facilitating similar conversations in the context of No Small Matter: a documentary and national engagement campaign bringing attention to the value of quality early childhood education for children, families, and communities. The film explores issues around the impact that can be achieved through early learning efforts, and the supports that families and teachers need to provide quality care. The 75-minute documentary poignantly interweaves personal stories, brain science, and research to paint a picture of the social and economic costs of failing to provide a quality early learning experience for every single child.

On November 4, more than 240 members of the community came out on a chilly Monday evening to watch No Small Matter and the panel discussion immediately following the screening. John Borrero, the Executive Director for the Oak Park Collaboration for Early Childhood moderated a discussion with No Small Matter Producer Rachel Pikelny, No Small Matter Co-Director Daniel Alpert, Illinois State Senator Don Harmon, and District 200 School Board President Dr. Jackie Moore.

There were distinct moments of the event that felt like victories. First, the ability to host a community event and lead an impactful dialogue represented a key strategy in changing community perception around this issue. Second, the panel makeup, consistent with the movie, presented an opportunity for cross-sector dialogue. On the stage, panelists talked about being parents; being teachers; working in media production and leading thought from within the Illinois legislature. They openly and honestly discussed issues of equity, potential root causes for systemic barriers to early childhood education, and strategies for state and local action!

The Collaboration will host a total of four viewing and discussion events throughout Oak Park. They held the first event in October at Lincoln Elementary, and will hold the last two later in November at Wonderwork’s Children’s Museum and West Suburban Medical Center. (For more information on the November screenings, go to

Collaboration staff and volunteers worked to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity for rich conversation and a re-examination of systems and assumptions in the Oak Park community and beyond. They consider the public conversations around the documentary to be vitally important, as well as the opportunity for the Collaboration for Early Childhood to engage in the larger conversation around the importance of the 0-5 years. “Every opportunity to bring the needs of children into the public dialogue is a success for us. We are grateful to have had the support necessary to bring the event to fruition,” said Executive Director John Borrero.

The Collaboration joins a movement of No Small Matter screenings and discussions around the country. If your collaboration is interested in booking a screening, you can find more information at: 



Parent Engagement and Leadership Assessment Guide and Toolkit

Developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy and the EC-LINC Outcomes and Metrics Initiative, this resource is designed to help agencies, systems, and collaborations working with young children and their families reflect on and develop an expanded approach to family engagement. It includes three versions of an assessment tool that helps redefine how families experience early childhood systems and the role parents can play in reshaping these systems to be more equitable, responsive, and accountable to the families and communities they serve. Collaborations can use both the comprehensive and abridged versions to self-assess where they are engaging parents and where they may want to go. To access the full toolkit or the three different versions of the assessment, please click here.

Priority Population Data Scan and Guide

The Priority Population Data Scan and Guide connects early childhood service providers and advocates working with data resources, statewide service information, and suggestions for how to form local partnerships to better serve our most vulnerable children and families.

To access the guide, click here. The Ounce of Prevention held a webinar on the guide and how communities could use it on October 22, 2019. You can view the webinar here.

Upcoming Trainings and Events

Beyond the Basics: Facilitation Mindsets and Practices for CSD

On December 3, 2019, join Chris Foster from Foster What Matters, Inc. and the CS3 team for this training opportunity. The complex nature of leading community systems development efforts requires an expanded repertoire of leadership, facilitation, and system thinking capacities. In this workshop, you will strengthen your abilities to convene meetings that deepen engagement, foster shared agreement, and generate aligned collective action. A combination of traditional facilitation and art of hosting practices will be offered for designing and facilitating effective meetings.

For more information and to register, click here.

Engaging Families in Early Childhood Collaborations

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 excited to offer the training, Engaging Families in Early Childhood Collaborations, in Wheaton and East St. Louis. Register today!

Partner Plan Act Annual Conference

Save the date! The 2020 Partner Plan Act Annual Conference will take place in Bloomington, IL on June 11 and 12, 2020. This annual conference is FREE and a great opportunity for all those working on community systems within the early childhood sector. This year, our conference title is Equity from the Start: Shifting from Intentions to Outcomes. We want to continue the conversation around racial equity and ensure that it is explicitly embedded in all of the work we do.

To help us with that discussion, author Ijeoma Oluo joins us as the conference keynote, best known for her book, So You Want to Talk About Race.