October 2020 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

October 6, 2020

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“To refuse to participate in the shaping of our future is to give it up. Do not be misled into passivity either by false security (they don’t mean me) or by despair (there’s nothing we can do). Each of us must find our work and do it.”

—Audre Lorde

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

The Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3) team has launched its annual Training Needs Assessment. Please take a few moments to complete the survey, as the results will inform future content of our On-Demand Learning courses, Partner Plan Act conference sessions, and regional trainings. Share the needs assessment survey with other community collaborations. We want to hear from you!

Due to the unpredictable nature of COVID-19, the CS3 team will host its annual Partner Plan Act conference virtually in 2021. Save the date for the week of June 7, 2021! Please consider joining the Planning Committee to help us make this the best Virtual Summit yet! Contact Kristina Rogers for more details.

Collaboration Highlight

Community to Community (C2C) Mentorship Program – Finding Support in Each Other.

Last year, we launched a mentorship program based on the input from community collaborations that wanted more individualized support and mentorship from experienced community systems leaders. The mentorship was a major success and is being continued this year. This month, we highlight Ann Oswalt’s experience as a mentee in the Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3) Mentorship Program—Community to Community (C2C)—to provide an in-depth perspective on the program and its benefits Ann works as the Early Childhood Director for the Preschool for All (PFA) program at the Regional Office of Education (ROE) #12 in East Central, IL.

  1. Why did you join the mentorship program?

    I joined because I was really interested in the ways to serve the children and their families in our area across the board—not just preschool, but also child care and community services and all of these things that families need.

  2. Who is your mentor?

    Amber Peters – She is the Executive Director of Elgin Partnership for Early Learning [EPEL].

  3. What have you gotten out of the mentorship program thus far?
    So much! Amber has been really helpful in helping me to find ways to approach the idea of collaboration start with childcares, other PFA programs and agencies to. She also was really helpful with talking through some family engagement that [EPEL] was doing. We took her background with family engagement and my past with home visiting and kind of combined the two to build this whole new way of doing remote learning for us.

    Instead of our teachers teaching via video, which we know is not the most developmentally appropriate thing for preschoolers, we are saying to families, these are things that you can do with your kiddos, with things you already have at home, to build on what your children are learning.” So, it’s a lot of, “let’s talk about setting the table and why this is beneficial.” Not putting a time on it, and saying you have to spend this much time, parents love that. And, they are doing it and they’re sending us pictures. We are really just believing that parents are their children’s best teachers. We are helping them see that what they are already doing is so great and so beneficial and here’s how we can expand on that a little. Our remote learning is just expanded family engagement.

  4. What has been your favorite part of the mentorship experience? Why?
    I really like being able to touch base with. We meet on Facetime about once a month. She kind of forces me to see the good in what we’re doing, and that’s hard to do sometimes. It’s a good reminder that we are starting some collaboration, we are working together. She encourages to keep going forward with the work.

  5. Can you describe the mentorship program?
    It’s a great support to me, both professionally and personally. It’s been a chaotic six months and there’s real comfort in knowing that I’m not doing this alone. That there are lots us out there that are dealing with the same things and trying to figure things out and working together.

    It’s nice to get to know other people in the program. It’s nice to have those contacts to reach out to. It’s not just collaboration within my own community but also statewide. Seeing different ways of doing things is a really nice way of getting new and different ideas.

  6. Did anything surprise about your experience?
    It’s surprising that even though where I am its very rural, very small town, and where Amber is, it’s a huge program, we still have a lot of similarities we are dealing with. Families are the same wherever you go, even though they are dealing with different things. We still can find ways to build relationships with families and we can take what each other is doing even though they are very different programs. That was a little surprising in a good way.

  7. What advice would you give to people considering, but still undecided, about joining the mentorship program?
    Join it! It is so beneficial! Collaboration doesn’t have to be a big huge thing. It can just be conversations. For example, we are getting new screening materials, and I called the other PFAs [preschool for all programs] and said, “hey, I heard this from ISBE.” It’s as simple as a phone call. I think we hesitate to do that and put ourselves out there, but it’s so beneficial to have these relationships with these agencies and other people who are serving the same kids. We can better serve families when we work together.

I would also like to encourage those of us that are downstate to give it a shot. We sometimes think that everything happening in Northern Illinois is a whole separate thing, and it doesn’t have anything to do with us, but it really does. It is beneficial for us mid or down state not just the Chicagoland area or Springfield area. Those of us in rural areas really can benefit from this too.

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


QRIS 2020 Virtual Conference Recordings

The annual QRIS convening was moved to a virtual format that offered 20 webinar recordings. Sessions were developed for a range of leaders from all levels including: state child care administrators, QRIS administrators, Head Start state and local leaders, technical assistance providers, coaches and mentors, quality improvement specialists, advocates, policy makers, evaluators and researchers, funders, higher education faculty, and early childhood systems leaders at the national, state, territory, tribal nation, and community levels. Session descriptions, recordings, slides, and other materials are now available.

Chicago Beyond Resources

Chicago Beyond has developed a number of resources that may be useful to early childhood community collaborations.

They have had two sessions in a series that unpacks topics such as white privilege, anti-racism, education, and more. As our communities, state, and country grapples with our history of systemic racism, individuals begin and continue their learning from different points and with different resources. These recordings offer insight for individuals with varying understanding of systemic racism. The first recording about “Unpacking White Privilege” is available here, and the speakers included Arne Duncan and Christian Picciolini. From the first conversation, a toolkit on “Becoming Anti-Racist” was developed, which includes 23 things to watch, listen, or do. The second session was about wanting to be Anti-Racist, featuring speakers Professor Ibram X. Kendi and Dr. Maurice Swinney. Annotated notes with resources and links are available here. The third session will dive into race and wealth.

Chicago Beyond has also developed a guidebook titled “Why Am I Always Being Researched?” for community organizations, researchers, and funders to help think through how research is and should be done in communities. Often, community members are asked to participate in surveys, focus groups, interviews, and other components to help inform the work of community organizations and policies, but the communication between communities and organizations are rarely a mutual and two-way dialogue. The guidebook offers community collaborations different ideas on how to engage community stakeholders more authentically.

You can learn more about Chicago Beyond and sign up for their events

Trainings and Events

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/cultural change.

We are offering two virtual training dates:

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

Governance Series – Early Childhood Community Systems Development and Collaboration: The What and the How

A widely-watched BUILD Institute video, which describes the promise of early childhood community systems building, asks the question: “What would happen if we all worked together on behalf of kids? Everyone!”

But, as many collaborations know, working together as one and achieving results is easier said than done. And, governance is often the missing ingredient. The purpose of the CS3 Governance Workshop Series is to provide support for a range of early childhood collaboration teams to address the fundamental aspects of good governance.

Wednesday, October 28 we are kicking off our Governance Workshop Series. Early Childhood Community Systems Development and Collaboration: The What and the How is the first workshop in our Governance Workshop series. It will cover the bedrock governance components for successful collaboration: Vision, Mission, Core Values, and Guiding Principles. We will consider:

  • Governance approaches that match the vision of “working as one” on behalf of children.
  • Tools and strategies for developing or renewing collaboration’s vision, mission, principles and values

Registration is now open!

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. The topics of these webinars are as follows:

  • 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. Availability for the webinar series is limited. You are encouraged to register early.

Get Your Tickets, Today! A (Virtual) Night to Shine October 22!