The Collaborator
EPEL Partners,

Stephen R. Covey said, "There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy... On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in life. It is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time. That one thing is TRUST."

Trust builds strength of the foundation for a robust early care system among EPEL community partners and relationships with families. As EPEL treads through 2021, we continue to build trust, adjust, and collaborate with partners to build equitable access and support systems for our youngest learners and families. EPEL works to engage the whole community in family support and children becoming ready for school and life through the collective impact model. This work can not be done alone.

EPEL acts as a convener or conductor of an amazing orchestra of partners. Just like a conductor would do with musicians, EPEL works with partners to make sure all services for children and families are cohesive to offer a community of opportunities and a system of care. We lead the work to not duplicate but rather a "better together" scenario to mobilize the community in change and meet families where they are. Community partners fall into ovals of support "see below" that overlap and intersect with children and family always at the center of our work. Partners bring unique talents to our community collaboration to support EPEL's mission of building a connected community dedicated to having young children thrive. Thank you for showing up for families!

Below you will see a new format for our newsletter broken into categories, Community Engagement, Early Learning, Family Engagement, Health and Development with equity embedded in all work.

I encourage you to watch the two-minute video below that shares how your contribution of resources (time, thoughts, funding) that you bring to the table is a part of the journey of our most important resource to the future of our community, our children.

Together We Can,
Amber Peters
Executive Director
"This graphic shows a comprehensive early childhood system circled around the system of systems. The functions act as the "glue" and support connecting the three systems into a comprehensive system. Only when all these functions and systems are effectively connected can the desired result of thriving children and families occur." -BUILD Initiative

Which oval does your organization fit inside?
Community Engagement refers to EPEL's efforts to involve the entire community and partners in supporting and building a strong system of care for children birth to five and their families. These efforts of community mobilization work to prepare children for school and life.
Anti-Racism Conference
EPEL partnered with Addison Early Childhood Collaborative and SPARK Early Childhood Collaboration to offer a free conference with knowledgeable, passionate speakers who help us as an early learning system continue our learning journey for addressing racial inequities and social justice. We are thankful to our community partners that made this conference a priority and part of their journey and their daily work to serve children and families. You are critical to the change in the system of supporting families and having children prepared for school.
Early Learning refers to quality experiences and interactions in the first 2,000 days of a child's life. This is a critical time when 85% of brain growth occurs while educators and families prepare children for Kindergarten. EPEL partners to strengthen the pipeline, birth to Kindergarten through our home visiting, director, and in-home care provider networks. Learning opportunities at home and in the community are vital to entering Kindergarten ready. Policies and partners work together to ensure that children have the best opportunities for success.
Birth-Five Slot Gap Community Planning
Only a quarter of the children in Illinois are ready for Kindergarten. One strategy for children being fully prepared for school is being enrolled in high-quality programming before Kindergarten. In Elgin, we are not only short on slots and enrollment but also educators. This is what is referred to as a "Slot Gap" of state and federally funded slots for Prevention Initiative (home visiting), Early Head Start, Head Start, Preschool for All, and Preschool Expansion. The early learning slots/seats are based on poverty data compared to the number of eligible children. Community data shows there are 2,787 infants and toddlers eligible for programs and only 235 being served, so our community is short 2,552 slots. There are 3,082 children eligible for preschool slots, and 1,684 are enrolled, with a gap of 1,318. 

EPEL formed a community-based planning team to expand access and develop new high-quality early childhood slots for the community. The end goal of this year-long project will be to identify and support community organizations that will write for funding to add services birth to five. 20-30 community members meet monthly to dive into data to guide discussions on how the community will work together on identifying innovative solutions. We believe this is a strong step to collecting different perspectives from voices that are not commonly heard. This team is comprised of City Council representatives, School District U-46, Head Start, YWCA Metropolitan, housing, parents, early care providers, home visitors, data specialists, consultants, and state leaders. This work is in partnership with the Governor's Office of Early Childhood and the community system development team. Elgin is the pilot for this community planning project. Thus far, discussions have identified strengths and assets of Elgin’s child care services, challenges and needs in the community for families, and why Elgin has not applied or been successful in applying for additional state and federal funded slots. EPEL continues to add to the family engagement team that meets to hear from a wide range of voices. EPEL's family engagement planning team is creating goals of engaging a diverse group of parents using the community asset map to guide decision making. This new data will be analyzed and used to drive decisions of how we proceed in neighborhoods.
Welcome Katie Cox
Please welcome new U-46 Director of Early Learning and EPEL Board member Katie Cox, who joins Elgin from the East Aurora School District. She will be an integral part of the EPEL Board as we work closely to align services, teams and serve the children and families in our communities in preparing for school. We are excited to partner for the best outcomes for children. Welcome to our early care family!
Family Engagement refers to EPEL's work as a collaboration to build trust, collect family voice, empower parents to be their child's first and most important teacher, and offer resources ensuring all families have the support needed for best outcomes. Our family engagement collaborates with partners to build capacity to support the efforts of meeting families where they are in neighborhoods, ensuring support is offered in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner for the journey of preparing their child for school. Family support needs to be tailored to our diverse communities' needs as this a critical part of our early childhood system.
Monthly Calendar Pages and Video

We are thrilled to have partnered with U-46 Kindergarten teachers in filming monthly calendar videos to compliment the Getting Ready for Kindergarten calendar. The videos are added to social media at the beginning of each month in English and Spanish. Please consider sharing them with the families you serve. Check out January's video. You can share them off of YouTube under Elgin Partnership for Early Learning.
Summer 2021 Expansion
"Learning On The Go"
Summer Learning On the Go is expanding to six neighborhoods. Our educators and partners plan for eight weeks of family engagement where we meet at the park in the neighborhood for books, activities, food, and fun! 

Our community goals are to ENGAGE families, SCREEN children, SUPPORT caregivers, and ENROLL children!

Come join us for literacy and learning in
Elgin: Buena Vista, Cornerstone, Crestwood, Rivers Edge, Rivers Landing
Streamwood: Kiddie Corner
Throw away the flashcards and engage your children through Talking, Playing, Reading, Doing, and Writing. Easy tips for parents for preparing their children for school and life. Available in English and Spanish for caregivers of children 0-2 and 3-5. Download to offer to your families.
The first five years of life are critical to success for a child's future. EPEL collaborates with partners to assure developmental screenings and preventative care are available for healthy development so all children's needs are met. EPEL's vision is that Our Children are Happy, Healthy, and Ready for Kindergarten.
Professional Development for Family Care
Dedicated Family Care Providers that welcome children birth to five in their home daily. They continue to educate themselves to serve children and families better. They are taking a two-part Professional Development EPEL and U-46 Give Me Five is partnering with Early Intervention on developmental screenings. Our goal is to increase the number of children screened and not just use screenings as a tool for concerns.
Screenings Available this Summer in Neighborhoods/Laundromats/Parks
Children develop skills and reach milestones at their own pace. EPEL, U-46, and partners are working together to meet families in the community to offer free online developmental screenings, support, and enroll children in programs birth to five. Ages and Stages (ASQ) screening tool helps guide and keep track of a child’s growth and development during these first five years. 
Congratulations to our March Key Piece Partners. These three partners went above and beyond to collaborate to organize, design, and edit the calendar videos for families to use as a learning tool. Karen Smith, retired U-46 Kindergarten teacher, Andrew Moore and Billie Moffett from Gail Borden Public Library. Andrew even composed the music in the videos.t Link
Shout-Out to U-46
Thank you to U-46 Health and School Safety for collaborating to ensure our community early care educators and in-home care providers could get their COVID vaccines with the U-46 staff. When we sent the invites, you could see their smiles through the return emails. Thank you for making sure this important group of educators was protected in a timely manner.
Shout-Out to
We Can Lead Change
Thank you We Can Lead Change for reaching out with diapers to see the families in our community with essential needs. You helped provide enough diapers for a mobile food pantry, WIC classes, and two healthcare centers that serve our priority populations.
Thank You Funders
  • Elgin Kiwanis-$1,000 Funded a Movable Story Walk for Parks (More details to come
  • Elgin Township-$5,000 Funded Community Screening Partnerships
  • Fit For Kids-$5,750 Movable Story Walk (More details to come)
  • Grand Victoria Foundation for Funding Early Childhood Collaboration
  • United Way Metro Chicago for Funding Early Childhood Collaboration