About Us

Community Systems Development in Illinois Over Time

We wouldn’t be here without those who came before us and built a strong foundation for the work we do today. Learn about how various partners, donors, and community members fueled Illinois Action for Children and the Community Systems Statewide Supports team to provide training and technical assistance to collaborations across the state.

Building Foundations


Illinois Action for Children received funding, thanks to Grand Victoria Foundation, to support the development of early care and education planning groups and the implementation of locally-driven strategies as part of the Building Blocks II project. Together with local partners, IAFC collaborated with communities in Aurora, Lake County, Peoria, McHenry County, East St. Louis, and Joliet to expand high-quality early care and education.

Funding Communities


  • 22 communities received Illinois State Advisory Council’s one-time grants ranging from $1,000 to $9,999 in support of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development initiatives.
  • The Early Childhood Action Partnership (ECAP) project provided one-time grants to support capacity building efforts for local communities.

Increasing Opportunities


In 2012, IAFC was awarded a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant to strengthen early childhood systems and kindergarten readiness for children in Illinois. IAFC 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 to support and develop stronger systems at the community level:

    • The Consortium for Community Systems Development designed a community systems development approach for early childhood education in Illinois and provided training and technical assistance.
    • The Innovation Zones project engaged 11 communities to build and test strategies to boost the enrollment of children with critical needs in high-quality early learning programs.

The ABLe Change Framework, a two-year training pilot, enabled 17 communities to apply systems change approaches in their communities. Additionally, the ABLe Change Framework provided a common language and framework for early childhood community systems.

Building Statewide


  • In 2018, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) awarded IAFC funding to develop a statewide training and technical assistance system, expanding community collaborations’ capacity to improve early childhood education structures. Since then, the Community Systems Statewide Supports Team has worked diligently to support and amplify early childhood collaborations across Illinois.
  • In 2023, ISBE awarded IAFC funding to continue the Community Systems Statewide Supports team’s work for another five years.
  • Today, the Community Systems Statewide Supports team remains passionate about working with collaborations to find solutions that address unique community needs. Meet our team!

Get Plugged Into a Collaboration

As we reflect on where we are today, we recognize that the future of early childhood collaborations is dynamic and constantly evolving. Join us in the movement towards equitable systems for all our children by engaging with your local collaboration.