In 2012, Illinois was awarded a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant to strengthen early childhood systems and kindergarten readiness for Illinois children. Illinois committed to assuring “children with highest needs receive high quality early learning services within a comprehensive system that serves all children.” IAFC led two initiatives, the Consortium for Community Systems Development and the Innovation Zones, to support and develop stronger systems at the community level.
The Consortium for Community Systems Development developed a strategic plan for embedding a community systems development approach for early childhood education in Illinois and also provided training and technical assistance.
The training supports included a two-year pilot of the ABLe Change Framework that offered 17 communities the opportunity to apply systems change approaches in their community. Additionally, the ABLe Change Framework pilot training provided common language and framework for early childhood community systems.
The Innovation Zones was a project that engaged 11 communities to develop and test strategies to increase the enrollment of children with critical needs in high-quality early learning and development programs.