November 2022 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

November 6, 2022

“One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.”– Charles M. Blow  

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)   

Planning for the 2023 Partner Plan Act Conference is underway! At this point in the process, we are finalizing conference dates and would love to have your input! Please complete this short survey to rank the three top contenders for dates that will ensure your full participation in our conference. Any questions, please reach out to   

We are hiring!    

The CS3 team is pleased to announce that there are two open positions available within the team to be filled ASAP- Assistant Director and Program Manager of Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3).    

The Program Manager will provide leadership in the logistics and implementation of key work related to community systems projects. IAFC is searching for an experienced, reliable, and task-oriented individual to ensure administrative systems are in place and well-maintained to support time-sensitive constituent communications, grants reporting, event logistics, and contract management. The Program Manager will interface with diverse constituents, including leaders from school districts, community collaborations, elected officials, and senior staff.   

To read more about the Program Manager job description and to apply, click here.    

The Assistant Director of CS3 will lead the effort and successfully implement the scope of work for IAFC’s contract with ISBE for Community Systems Development Training and Technical Assistance. Working with the Vice President of Community Impact, the Assistant Director will create and sustain the systems necessary to build and manage professional development training, technical assistance, and coaching supports for early childhood community collaborations across the state. The Assistant Director will work in collaboration with a small team to support community collaborations as they strengthen local community systems, enhance local collaboration, and build effective strategies that enhance outcomes for young children and families. They will guide communities in using intentional feedback loops driven by data and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) learning cycles.   

To read more about the Assistant Director job description and to apply, click here.      

Community Highlight      

The Community Parenting Support Saturation Program is a three-year pilot program offering an array of interventions that collectively address multiple levels of parenting needs and is available to all parents of young children (ages birth to 5) in a community:       


  • Tier 1 Supports: community outreach and interventions through one-time and/or repeated encounters      
  • Tier 2 Supports: time limited interventions, activities, and supports for families and young children      
  • Tier 3 Supports: intensive and ongoing services to parents and young children       

Program Goal: To ensure that parents are embraced and supported as the most important influences in their children’s early learning and that every child starts kindergarten thriving, ready to learn, and excited about school.      
Anticipated Impact: Through a community-wide effort with diverse partners, including families and early childhood organizations, the project will provide families with young children the support that they need to prepare their young children for kindergarten and life.      

In 2019, Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) was selected as the Lead Implementation Partner to provide strategic direction and to support three pilot communities – Aurora (led by SPARK Aurora), North Lawndale (led by Carole Robertson Center for Learning), and Rockford (led by Alignment Rockford). Below are updates from each community’s progress towards saturation.   

What’s happening now with the three communities around this work?   

Aurora: Aurora demonstrates the power that a tiered approach has in connecting families to resources in the community and to one another. SPARK works with partners such as the Aurora Housing Authority and World Relief to offer their tier two programs and get families in the door. Once in the door, families are invited to enroll in Bright by Text, which provides both parent tips and community messages that keep families in the loop about community events and services. Through these messages, families can learn about major community events, such as Be My Neighbor Day, a communitywide event that brought over 800 families to connect with community resources and one another. SPARK is also leveraging existing partnerships with Rush Copley hospital and the local home-visiting collaborative to build Bright Beginnings, a comprehensive system of support for parents of children 0-3.   

All this work leads back to the Gateway Family Interview, SPARK’s coordinated intake for parents. SPARK is implementing a shortened Gateways intake for every parent who accesses a tier two service and is following up with each family to inquire about completing the full interview to receive additional resources and referrals. With this coordinated, community-wide effort, SPARK ensures that every family can connect to the full array of community services and support.    

North Lawndale: Carole Robertson Center for Learning’s vision is to create family leadership at the center of the work and to match family investment in kindergarten readiness activities with a community-wide investment in the form of time, resources, and compassion. Carole Robertson envisions a community that builds family investment by offering concrete resources in the form of learning kits and building an opportunity for ongoing outreach via Ready4K community messages. By distributing kits to providers across the community, Carole Robertson ensures that there is no wrong door to access services. All families who receive learning kits are offered the opportunity to enroll in Ready4K, which provides both tips and community messages to keep parents aware of programs and events and engaged with kindergarten readiness. When families receive this care and investment, Carole Robertson can work to create deep engagement opportunities through growing Circle of Security offerings. The program has helped parents recognize their expertise and capacity for leadership, which Carole Robertson is leveraging by keeping them involved through ReadyRosie and the Caregiver Advisory Council. Their model for fostering parent leaders through Circle of Security has made them a leader in the System of Care work as they work to implement Circle of Security throughout the city. Further, by working with the North Lawndale Early Learning Collaboration to build out the Community Digital Hub and referral and recruitment networks, Carole Robertson is ensuring community alignment around support for families.  The ultimate outcome is a community where families are empowered to speak when decisions are made about their citizenship, enfranchisement, access to resources, and their children’s futures.     

Rockford: One of the major successes in Rockford has been around the Basics, a public campaign to reach parents of children under age 5 with five evidence-based parenting and caregiving principles about what is important for their children’s development and learning experiences based on those principles. Alignment Rockford has partnered with SwedishAmerican Hospital to distribute Ready to Learn with the Basics Rockford Kits which provide resources and early learning activities to families in Labor and Delivery and Pediatrics. Each kit contains a QR code where parents can sign up to receive information about resources in the community. At that time, they can also elect to complete a coordinated intake form. The coordinated intake was developed in partnership with the mental health organization Rosecrance, which has the System of Care funds to bring the IRIS coordinated intake system to Rockford. The new Alignment Rockford coordinated intake will serve as a communitywide resource until IRIS is ready to launch and, once launched, it will fill a critical gap for organizations that are not referring partners to IRIS and for families who wish to self-refer. Through this community-wide, cross-sector effort, Alignment Rockford is seeking to connect every family from birth to five with the full network of community resources available in Rockford starting from the moment the child is born.    

If you have questions about this work or are interested in bringing learnings from this pilot to your community, please contact Bri Stormer, Project Manager of the Community Parenting Support Saturation Program, at Check out the Upcoming Trainings and Events section below for details about an informational webinar hosted by the Community Parenting Support Saturation Program team.  



Diaper Dilemma: Low-Income Families Face High Costs and Limited Supplies of an Essential Good 

Diapers are essential and expensive, but most safety net programs don’t cover them. A reliable and adequate supply is crucial for many reasons, including parents’ ability to raise healthy babies and maintain consistent employment. For reasons of hygiene and convenience, disposable diapers are mandated by most childcare centers and home-based childcare providers. Diaper scarcity can lead to health issues for children and missed shifts at work for parents, which not only decreases family income, but can jeopardize employment and, therefore, participation in safety net programs with a work requirement. New research by Professor Jennifer Randles sheds light on the implications of diaper scarcity and policy approaches to support low-income families with young children.  

Priya Parker resources 

Priya Parker is a facilitator, strategic advisor, and acclaimed author of “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters.” Gathering is a crucial part of collaboration work. Priya offers two free resources to help plan gatherings: The New Rules of Gathering can help collaboration leaders to plan with purpose for any occasion and the Virtual Gathering Guide: Work Edition provides nine steps to make Zoom calls effective and enjoyable as we continue to some virtual gatherings.  


Trainings and Events  

Real-World Parent Engagement Examples in Early Childhood Collaborations | December 6, 2022  

Theories and frameworks are helpful resources to prepare for engaging parents. However, once collaborations dive into engaging, they often find themselves with additional questions and/or unforeseen obstacles. This workshop provides the opportunity to reflect on these questions and troubleshoot obstacles with other early childhood education and care peers, including a panel of collaboration parent leaders.  

If you are interested in attending, please complete this form!  

Building Community Alignment Around Early Childhood: Lessons from the Community Parenting Support Saturation Program  | December 9, 2022  

IAFC will be holding an informational webinar for those interested in learning more about the Community Parenting Support Saturation Program and how to incorporate learnings into their communities on Friday, December 9 from 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Presenters will explain the saturation approach and describe how planning for the program was informed by a human-centered design process which has allowed communities to leverage family and community feedback and build leadership alignment around early childhood. Participants will leave with an understanding of how human-centered design principles can help build innovative and sustainable systems for parents of children 0-5.  

Register for the webinar here! 

Introduction to Systemic Racism | January 25-26, 2023  

The CS3 Team is working with CROAR to offer a workshop called Introduction to Systemic Racism on 1/25 and 1/26, 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. The idea that oppression, and in particular, racism, is not only a matter of individual prejudice but a systemic, institutional problem of power is foundational to the Introduction to Systemic Racism workshop and requires structural intervention to dismantle. The workshop is designed for institutions who want their staff as well as their leadership to understand the systemic nature of racism and the role institutions play in its maintenance.   

If you are interested in attending, please complete this form!   

*There is limited capacity for these trainings. Please only sign up if you are available to attend both days. Signing up does not guarantee a spot. The form will close once we reach our capacity of 30.