September 2020 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

September 6, 2020

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; that is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values, of meaningful community.”

—Bell hooks

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)

The CS3 team launched its third cohort of the Partner Plan Act Collaboration Institute and held Orientation on August 19, 2020. Five collaborations were accepted into this year’s PPACI and will receive coaching, consultation, and training through June 2021: Early Childhood Alliance (Niles Township), West Central Early Childhood Collaboration, St. Charles Early Learning Partnership, DeKalb County Coordinated Intake Collaborative, and Glenbard Early Childhood Collaborative.

The Community-to-Community Mentorship Program is looking for one more mentee! If you are interested in being paired with a veteran in the Community Systems field through June 2021, please contact Kristina Rogers.

Meet LaQuan!

LaQuan McMahan (he/him and she/her) joins our team with a wide array of administration and project management experiences. Their passion and background in community support and engagement will help expand the capacity of the CS3 team to continue supporting the wider early childhood ecosystem. Read their full bio here:

LaQuan McMahan is a black, queer, non-binary gender confirming member of the community. They were born on the West side of Chicago and raised in the Westchester suburbs. For the entirety of their life, thus far, they have been engaged in the work of inclusion, communication and data, being a middle child of five siblings, queer/non-binary and interested in how computers function as tools of communication.

Since high school, they’ve enjoyed volunteering for a range of populations affected by conditions of poverty, serving organizations such as Feeding America, Ronald McDonald Children Hospital, The Greater Milwaukee Foundation, AmeriCorps, Public Allies Inc., and UNICEF. This trend continued in college, having attended Marquette University for undergrad and being a resident of the Milwaukee area for the better part of the last six years. While they studied Human Resources & Information Technology management, they’ve been engaged around nonprofit management & case management as it pertains to how marginal communities interact with systems of care.

Their most recent role was as a Resource Advocate at Broadway Youth Center (Howard Brown affiliated). There they worked closely with the homeless youth LGBTQA+ populations between the ages of 14 to 24, and age 29 specifically for the trans community, providing resources intended for the holistic self-efficacy & upward mobility of the person. They’ve passionate about issues surrounding poverty, civil and workers’ rights because they firmly believe in leaving the world, daily, in a better condition than they discovered it.

Collaboration Highlight

WeGo Together for Kids: Relationships Made this COVID Pivot Possible

WeGo Together for Kids is a collaborative, initiated in 2005, dedicated to supporting and enhancing the health, safety, and well-being of children and families in West Chicago through a collaborative, coordinated and comprehensive approach. The collaborative focuses their efforts in six areas: early childhood, academic achievement, youth and family health, emergency preparedness, community engagement, and stable families.

Prior to the pandemic, WeGo Together for Kids’ Early Childhood Workgroup had been preparing for months to roll out a community-wide survey as a first step toward establishing a strategic priority for their Workgroup. The sudden shutdown of schools, businesses, and organizations due to COVID put these plans on hold.

The Early Childhood Workgroup and the whole WeGo Together initiative refocused all their relationships and community knowledge to concretely answer these questions: What can we do to support families, especially those most vulnerable? And, how can we support our partners?

In response to these questions, the collaboration came up with three strategies:

  • COVID Care Packages
  • Direct Financial Assistance
  • Addressing Food Insecurity

COVID Care Packages

WeGo Together created care packages for families with diapers, formula, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and craft kits for the children to do in the home. As a United Way Neighborhood Network, WeGo Together was able to shift funds to purchase care package items. Community School Coordinators and Family Liaisons from seven schools assembled the care packages. West Chicago Elementary School District 33, Family Focus-DuPage, the Educare-West DuPage, and Puente del Pueblo identified and recruited families, and, the Wheaton Bible Church stepped in with volunteers to drop off weekly and semi-monthly care packages. As of mid-August, 1,337 adults and 1,656 children (2,993 people in total) have received care packages and the effort will continue throughout the school year.

Direct Financial Assistance

WeGo Together for Kids and Puente del Pueblo, another local group, already had an established relationship when each received funding to distribute financial assistance to West Chicago. Together they created a system to identify families and coordinate and distribute funds—maximizing efficiency and avoiding duplication of services. WeGo Together also was able to support families who did not qualify for federal pandemic relief. Due to a strong relationship with Family Focus and Illinois Migrant Council, when state funding was released to support low-income immigrant families that did not benefit from the stimulus package, they set aside 15 slots for West Chicago families to receive $1000 each. As of mid-August, WeGo Together for Kids has dispersed $52,574.82 in financial assistance that includes rent and mortgage support for 57 families and 15 families being awarded $1,000 to be spent on their discretion. This program is also ongoing.

Addressing Food Insecurity

In June and July, Wheaton Bible Church hosted two food drives, which benefited West Chicago families. Also, WeGo Together in collaboration with St. Andrew Lutheran Church, People Made Visible, and Gallery 200, hosted five pop-up food pantries using their buildings and parking lots. St. Andrew Lutheran Church has been providing weekly food distribution for families in West Chicago and neighboring communities as a response to the community’s ongoing need for food,.

This quick COVID response would not have been possible without a long-standing focus on relationship-building and the collective impact infrastructure of WeGo Together, which includes the Early Learning Workgroup (and five other workgroups), 60 diverse partners including School District 33’s Community School support. Without a doubt, WeGo Together for Kids lives up to its motto: “Connecting Our Community – Strengthening Our Families.”

To find out more, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you to Kathy Niedorowski, Birth to Five Community School Coordinator, for contributing to this highlight. For more information, please contact her.

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


Searching for Child Care: Stories of Cook County Mothers

From the Sylvia Cotton Center for Research and Policy Innovation powered by Illinois Action for Children,comes the report Searching for Child Care: Stories of Cook County Mothers. This special edition of the annual Report on Child Care in Cook County brings parent voices to the front of the story. It captures the experiences of families who have some of the hardest-to-meet child care needs as they search for care in today’s child care market. It follows mothers through their search, describing their hopes, challenges and compromises made related to their children’s care. Collaborations may find similarities between some of the parents’ stories and families in their own communities and want to explore and capture similar stories that can impact programs and policies.

Child Cares Struggle to Survive COVID-19: State Impacts and Responses

The National Women’s Law Center released the report, Child Care’s Struggle to Survive Covid-19: State Impacts and Responses. The report examines how the pandemic and recession are affecting state child care systems, how states are responding to the impacts on their child care systems, and what gaps remain in efforts to sustain these systems. The report reflects information collected by the National Women’s Law Center through a survey of state child care administrators from late March to early May 2020.

The report shows that states are seeing significant impacts of COVID-19 on their child care systems, and are using their new CCDBG funds to respond with a range of strategies to help child care providers and the families they serve. These strategies include grants to child care providers to help them sustain their businesses; grants to child care providers that remain open during the public health emergency; child care assistance for essential workers; incentives to child care programs serving children of essential workers; incentive pay for child care workers serving children of essential workers; grants for cleaning supplies for child care providers; paying based on enrollment; and covering copayments for families receiving child care assistance.

Yet, the report also shows that the new funding is far from sufficient to cover all of these activities for all child care providers that need help, for as long as they will likely need help, to ensure that child care is available for essential workers for the duration of the public health emergency and that child care programs that are currently closed or operating with reduced enrollment can safely resume full operations when appropriate.

We hope that this resource will be useful in your efforts to ensure your state is making effective use of its new CCDBG funds and to continue to push for significant additional child care funding to help sustain child care programs during and after the public health emergency.

Trainings and Events

Save the Date! CROAR’s 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 team contracted with Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR) to provide trainings on this important subject.

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 organizing and social/cultural change.

We are offering two training dates:

  • October 21, 2020 | 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Virtual)
  • March 23, 2021 | 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Virtual)

Registration hasn’t launched yet, so please save the date! Once registration launches, we will send an e-blast.

Tamarack Institute’s “Week of Webinars”

The CS3 team contracted with Tamarck Institute to provide a “Week of Webinars” during November 9-13, 2020, with webinars each day 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.