November 2020 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

November 6, 2020

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

—Margaret Mead

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

Meet Brittain

The Community Systems Statewide Supports team is working closely with the Illinois Action for Children Community-Based Planning for Expansion project which is offering supports to communities with significant early childhood education slot gaps. Brittain Ayres recently came on as the Program Manager.

Brittain Ayres (she/her) is a research and planning professional who has worked in the public sector in a variety of human services issues. She is originally from Nashville, Tennessee, where she got her start in community organizing working on educational equity initiatives during high school. She went to college at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga where she studied Political Science and Spanish.

After graduating, Brittain moved to Austin, Texas where she worked in nonprofit organizations, policy research, and community planning efforts at the state and local level. While in Austin, Brittain earned her Masters of Public Affairs degree at The University of Texas at Austin and worked in a collective impact collaborative focused on streamlining and improving services for opportunity youth. Brittain went on to do planning and data and policy research for the county government, focusing on a range of health and human service issues, including early childhood education, workforce development, and disability services systems.

Most recently, Brittain worked at Illinois Facilities Fund as a Research and Evaluation Manager where she supported communities across the Midwest with data and research to support strategic and systems planning in early child care and education and community development. Brittain is excited to use her passion for data and planning to support communities and local stakeholders with capacity-building and systems-planning to compete for early child care and education funding and expanding services.

Call for RFPs!

Due to the unpredictable nature of COVID-19, the CS3 team will host its annual Partner Plan Act conference virtually  June 8-10, 2021. If 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 18, 2020. Additionally, if you are interested in joining the conference Advisory Committee, please reach out to Kristina Rogers .

Announcement from GOECD

As a part of the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) Renewal grant, the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) seeks to implement the Integrated Referral and Intake System (IRIS) in up to five established home visiting collaboratives, including those in rural communities that are practicing some form of coordinated intake processes and need adequate support and technology to fully develop into coordinated intake communities.

While direct funding is not provided through this pilot, each pilot collaborative will receive access to IRIS and technical assistance support.

Find an info sheet here on the pilot project as well as the application template. For any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to Deborah Hwang directly.

Collaboration Highlight

Success by 6: Data, COVID-19, and Equity

Started in 2008, Success by 6 is an early childhood community collaboration that serves children and families in Kankakee and Iroquois counties. It is co-convened and co-funded by the United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois Counties and the Community Foundation of the Kankakee River Valley.

Like many, if not most, of the community collaborations in Illinois, Success by 6 was unexpectedly forced to pivot its work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, they had something that allowed them to quickly go into action—data. In 2016, Success by 6 brought Erikson Institute’s Early Development Instrument (EDI) Project to work with the Kankakee, Bourbonnais, and Bradley school districts, and in 2020 they included the Pembroke Township school district. This deep dive into the community provided information that would be essential to the collaboration’s COVID-19 response.

When Success by 6 looked closely at Pembroke Township—a largely Black farming community in Kankakee county—they found that many people do not have the basic supports they need to weather the pandemic. For example, because of its remote location, many families do not have internet access, making remote learning impossible. Also, many community members have been furloughed and are struggling to support their families.

In response to the vulnerabilities pinpointed by the data from Pembroke Township and other communities Success by 6 serves, United Way and the Community Foundation established a local COVID response fund with equity in mind; the fund aligns investments and prioritizes direct funding to Black and Latinx communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Moreover, to have a deeper reach, funded agencies are already established in the community and have the community’s trust. As a result, Success by 6 can rest assured that families will get what they need from people they know.

Learn more about Success by 6 and their upcoming professional development event, The First 1,100 Days Last Forever.

If you would like your collaboration’s work to be highlighted in the Partner Plan Act Newsletter, please email us at


State of Babies Yearbook: 2020

The State of Babies Yearbook: 2020 compares national and state-by-state data on the well-being of infants and toddlers. The current state of babies tells an important story about what it is like to be a very young child in this country, and where we are headed as a nation. By nearly every measure, children living in poverty and children of color face the biggest obstacles, such as low birth weight, unstable housing, and limited access to quality child care.

Find a webinar recording sharing some of the highlights of the national data, specific data for the state of Illinois, and a deep dive on maternal and child health inequities that emerge before birth. This data provides us with a snapshot of how our children, families, and communities are doing and can help early childhood community collaborations identify actions that need to be taken so that babies have good health, strong families, and quality early learning experiences to foster their healthy brain development and help them realize their full potential.

Angelique Power on the Death of “Equity”

Angelique Power, President of the Field Foundation, shares a deeply personal talk about how the recent flurry of equity statements without teeth harms the movement. From health pandemic to the pandemic of racism, this moment calls us not to talk about it but be about it. Learn what will change after this moment passes and how to know if you are part of the problem or part of the revolution?

Trainings and Events

Tamarack Institute: “Week of Webinars”

The CS3 program partnered with the Tamarack Institute to provide a “Week of Webinars” during November 9-13, 2020. The webinars are designed to build your community’s capacity to advance systems change.

  • Monday- Creating Culture for Engagement
  • Tuesday- Inquiry and Deliberation
  • Wednesday- Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD)
  • Thursday- Facilitating Co-Design
  • Friday- Participatory Approaches to Evaluation

Register for the entire series or for individual webinars. Space for the webinar series is limited. You are encouraged to register early.

Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR) Trainings: Intro to Systemic Racism

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 program partnered with Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR) to provide trainings on this important and timely issue.

During this training, participants will build a common definition of racism and explore the historic development of institutional racism in the US. They will examine ongoing realities of racism including the identity-shaping power racism has on People of Color and White people; explore racism’s individual, institutional and cultural manifestations; and consider the link between racism and other forms of oppression. A strategic methodology to dismantle racism will be introduced, focusing specifically on applying principles of community organizing and social change.

We have one upcoming training available:

March 24, 2020 | 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Virtual)

Participation is extremely limited, so please only register if you know that you can attend.