September 2021 Partner Plan Act Newsletter

September 6, 2021

IAFC Service Updates and Office Closures

“Oppressed groups are frequently placed in the situation of being listened to only if we frame our ideas in the language that is familiar to and comfortable for a dominant group. This requirement often changes the meaning of our ideas and works to elevate the ideas of dominant groups.” -Patricia Hill Collins

Community Systems Statewide Supports (CS3)


The Community-to-Community Mentorship Program launched its third year on August 18th. Several mentors and mentees continued from last year, though we also welcomed some new participants: Julie Herzog from Tazewell County AOK joins us as a mentor, while Jennifer Little (Oak Park) and Rosa Mendez (Skokie) join us as new mentees. We look forward to seeing community systems development leadership grow in Illinois!

Meet Kristen!

Kristen Garcia (she/her/ella) joins our team with a background in community outreach and nonprofit administration. Her intuitive understanding of root causes along with her eager and positive spirit will take her far and we are excited to introduce her to you. Read her full bio here:

Kristen graduated from Dominican University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Philosophy. She is interested in pursuing a degree in Clinical Psychology. She has current memberships and previous experiences working with different non-profit organizations such as the Coalition of Spiritual and Public Leadership (CSPL), Pillars Community Health, Catholic Charities, and WITS.

Her role as a Program Coordinator for the CS3 team will expand her experience in working with community-based organizations devoted to addressing various socio-political issues in society. Some fun facts about her are that she is a dog mom to a 1-year-old English Bulldog named Sigmund AKA Siggy and loves to hang out with her friends and family, spend days at Montrose beach, read, and play fetch with Siggy. While a Chicago native, she is new to the Uptown neighborhood and is excited to meet new people and explore new restaurants.

Collaboration Highlight

Plano Area Alliance Supporting Student Success (PAASSS)

This month we talked with Laurel Mateyka of Plano Area Alliance Supporting Student Success (PAASSS). PAASSS participated in the first cohort of the Partner Plan Act Collaboration Institute (PPACI) and is joining us again for the fourth cohort. Laurel is PAASSS’s Chairperson, and she shared a bit with us about how PAASSS came to be and what they’re up to now.

1. What led to the creation of PAASSS?
PAASSS started in 2018 with a meeting of early childhood service providers, agencies, and school administrators who realized there was no early childhood collaboration serving the needs of the Plano community. In fact, there was no early childhood collaboration in all of Kendall County. They saw a need and decided to take the lead in building a collaboration from scratch.

2. What is PAASSS’s mission statement?
PAASSS was very deliberate in crafting a mission statement. Their goal is to empower families to support their children through equitable access to services, so empowerment and equity were their focus. That resulted in the following mission statement:
PAASSS (Plano Area Alliance Supporting Student Success) will strengthen the community by ensuring that all families in the Plano area are aware of and have equitable access to services and supports that empower them to raise children that are safe, healthy, eager to learn, and ready to succeed.

3. What role do you think PAASSS can play in bettering the lives of families with young children in the Plano area?
PAASSS believes a community collaboration can play a huge role in the lives of young children by helping to meet the needs of the whole family. Supporting the adults in children’s lives by removing barriers enables those adults to better focus on and meet the needs of their children.
To that end, they have opened a satellite food pantry and a Family Resource Center where families can access resources, as well as learn about subjects like financial literacy and health and wellness. Additionally, other partners offer myriad supports, such as home visiting programs, before and after-school childcare, domestic violence services, and on-site immunization/physical exam clinics.

4. What has the collaboration done since its inception in 2018?
PAASSS has accomplished a lot in its short life:
• They opened a Family Resource Center and a satellite food pantry.
• They participated in the first cohort of the PPACI, creating a formal governance structure and charter agreement.
• They established their presence in the community through outreach and branding.
• They hosted a community screening of No Small Matter.
• They’ve joined the PPACI for a second time to learn concrete processes to delve into and address community issues.

4. How has COVID affected the collaboration’s work and focus?
COVID has not had a negative impact on the collaboration. Having to meet online forced them to be creative and expanded their reach, helping them bring more people together than before.
Most importantly, COVID has been a testament to PAASSS’s dedication to the community. They continued to meet and move forward, reaffirming their commitment to improving the lives of young children.

5. What is next for PAASSS?
Through participation in the fourth cohort of the PPACI, PAASSS hopes to find a clear direction. They want to design a systems change strategy that will produce measurable results by building relationships with the community and identifying/addressing root causes with their help. Ultimately, they want to create a call to action that all stakeholders will answer.
If your community collaboration would like to be highlighted in a future e-newsletter, please email


What Is Systemic Racism?

What Is Systemic Racism?

“What Is Systemic Racism?” is an 8-part video series by Race Forward that shows how racism shows up in our lives across institutions and society: Wealth Gap, Employment, Housing Discrimination, Government Surveillance, Incarceration, Drug Arrests, Immigration Arrests, Infant Mortality… yes, systemic racism is really a thing.

Policy [M]atters


Policy Matters is a video chat series between Teri Talan, Michael W. Louis Chair and Senior Policy Advisor at the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership, and guest thought leaders in early childhood policy. Season 4 has three episodes that focus on Racial Equity. In Episode 1, Teri sits down with Dr. Aisha Ray to discuss the concept of racial equity, how it differs from equality, and why racial equity matters in early childhood education. In Episode 2, Dr. Cynthia Tate focuses on Illinois’ early childhood policies when viewed through a racial equity lens. In Episode 3, Ashley Nazarak considers how an exemplary early childhood program embeds racial equity and social justice into an anti-bias curriculum.

Trainings and Events

Early Childhood Mental Health Symposium | September 25, 2021

Illinois Action For Children’s Provider Resources department is having their 6th annual Early Childhood Mental Health Symposium. The last 18 months have been nothing short of tumultuous and challenging for all of us, and we’re all still learning how to navigate our new day-to-day. This period of change has been especially challenging for our children, which is why we’re happy to announce Strength & Resilience: Adapting to a New Normal in a Period of Change & Trauma, featuring keynote speaker, Dr. Marva Lewis, Ph.D. Registration is open!

Intro to Systemic Racism | October 13th and 14th, 2021
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. This event will take place virtually over the course of two days, October 13th from 9:00 am-12:30 pm and October 14th from 9:00 am-12:30 pm.