Early Learning Insights
Newsletter of the Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development
In This Issue
About OECD
Alignment. Quality. Access.
OECD leads the state's initiatives to create an integrated system of quality, early learning and development programs to help give all Illinois children a strong educational foundation before they begin kindergarten.  Learn more.
Upcoming Events
02/21/2017  Full Early Learning Council Meeting

03/07/2017 Inclusion Subcommittee Meeting

03/07/2017  Community Systems Development
Subcommittee Meeting

03/08/2017 Access
Committee Meeting

03/08/2017  Principles  
and Practices Subc ommittee Meeting

See calendar for more events and details.
New Resources
Illinois Early Childhood System Videos (Spanish)
CDC Child Obesity Fact Sheet 
Infant Immunizations
OECD Initiatives

Additional Resources
Contact OECD
Stay Connected
February 10, 2017
Dear Early Childhood Community,
We hope that your year is off to a strong and productive start!
In this issue of Early Insights, we recognize Awards of Excellence recipients, announce new partnerships, and look at how an Innovation Zone developed a community-wide developmental screening collaborative. Important information about proposals for ECBG FY18 funding and links to helpful resources are also included.
Read on and learn more about how we can continue to work together for our children.
Best Regards,
Cynthia L. Tate, Ph.D.
Executive Director, OECD
Top Stories

Early Childhood Block Grant FY18: Prevention Initiative, Preschool for All, and Preschool Expansion Programs

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has issued Notices of Intent to Submit Proposals for the Prevention Initiative (PI), Preschool for All (PFA), and Preschool Expansion programs for FY18. All entities which intend to apply for FY18 PI, PFA, or Preschool Expansion funding must submit a very brief online Notice of Intent survey by February 28, 2017. The surveys should only take a few minutes to complete and can be found on the ISBE Early Childhood RFP website here, under the heading of "RFP Resources:"
https://www.isbe.net/Pages/RFPs.aspx . Please check this page frequently for updates. Questions regarding the Intent to Submit survey can be emailed to  earlychi@isbe.net .
ISBE expects to release the re-designed RFPs to apply for FY18 ECBG funding soon, with a bidders' conference to follow. Communities will have 60 days to submit their proposals. The FY18 ECBG funding will focus on five policy priorities:
  • Prioritizing high need communities
  • Serving children from priority populations - homelessness, 50% federal poverty level and below, children with special needs (IEP/IFSP), and current or recent child welfare involvement; 
  • Increasing number of slots that meet the Preschool Expansion model - full-day and comprehensive services;
  • Encouraging/supporting community collaborations; and
  • Building a birth to 3rd grade continuum of high quality services 
The following resources are available for communities who are interested in applying for the ECBG.
  1. The Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM) has just released new data on risk factors and early childhood slots. This page includes data by school district in the School District Profile and other data sets and resources needed to complete the Statement of Need for the grant applications.
  2. For communities with high needs who are still building their capacity to respond to funding opportunities like the ECBG, the private philanthropy community provides individualized and regional technical assistance and support with the application process.  TA might include support with analyzing risk and reach data; designing programs and budgeting to deliver comprehensive services; engaging in collaborative planning; coordinated enrollment; and building a birth-to eight pipeline for children and families.  Communities interested in receiving technical assistance should first complete the short survey found at: ECBG TA Survey, and may send additional questions to ECBGTA@gmail.com.
  3. Illinois Action for Children created toolkits and brief webinars that show how Illinois' 11 Early Childhood Innovation Zones worked to enroll and serve the highest-need children in high quality early learning programs. Please check the site frequently for additional materials: current toolkits include the following:
    • Creating An Enrollment Pipeline: Building a pipeline of committed partners is your first step toward developing a "community system" that includes health and social service providers.
    • Moving Toward Enrollment: effective strategies for enrolling children from priority populations.
    • Understanding Behavior: Designing for Action: Having a solid understanding of the motivations, interests and needs of your perspective partners will help you develop meaningful and engaging relationships, even with a diverse pipeline of partners.
Awards of Excellence
Awards of Excellence comprise the fifth and highest tier of ExceleRate Illinois, and were fully implemented in 2015. Awards of Excellence are only available to programs which have already achieved the Gold Circle of Quality, and are inclusive of both school- and community-based early learning programs. The  Awards of Excellence promote and recognize best practice achievements in research-based strategies which support the highest quality services for Illinois' most high-need, at-risk children and families. They include  Infant and Toddler Services, Preschool Teaching and Learning, Inclusion of Children with Special Needs, Family and Community Engagement, and Linguistically and Culturally Appropriate Practice . These standards and their accompanying professional development supports and technical assistance inform practice, and push forward quality improvement efforts in programs across all our state systems.    

OECD is pleased to recognize the following 36 programs which achieved Awards of Excellence in the final application cycle of 2016.

Award: Family and Community Engagement
  1. Effie O. Ellis Center, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
  2. Garfield Center, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
  3. High Ridge Center, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
  4. Logan Square, First Lutheran Head Start, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
  5. Orr Family Development Center, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
  6. Rauner Family Center, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
  7. South Side Center, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
Award: Inclusion of Children with Special Needs
  1. Kruse Education Center, District #146, Orland Park
  2. Fierke Education Center, District #146, Oak Forest
  3. Memorial School, District #146, Tinley Park
  4. Early Childhood Center, District #93, Bloomingdale
  5. Woodgate Elementary School, District #159, Matteson
  6. Parrish School, District #95, Carbondale
  7. Ferson Creek Elementary School, District #303, St. Charles
  8. Norton Creek Elementary School, District #303, West Chicago
  9. Fox Ridge Elementary School, District #303, St. Charles
Award: Linguistically and Culturally Appropriate Practice
  1. DeLacey Family Education Center, District #300, Carpenterville
  2. Early Learning Center, District #33, West Chicago
  3. ECDEC/Miner School District #25, Arlington Heights
  4. Edwards Center for Young Learners, Chicago Public Schools
  5. Jugando Se Aprende, Aurora
  6. North Lawndale Family Resource Center, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago
  7. Trinity Early Learning Center, District #33, West Chicago
Award: Preschool Teaching and Learning
  1. Casa Central Early Learning Academy, Chicago
  2. Child Care Center of Evanston
  3. Reba Early Learning Center, Evanston
  4. Jefferson School, Williamson County, Marion
  5. Longfellow School, Williamson County, Marion
  6. Tri-C School, Williamson County, Carterville
  7. Rock Island ROE #49, Rock Island
  8. Schaumburg District #54 Early Learning Center, Schaumburg
Award: Infant and Toddler Services
  1. Casa Central Early Learning Academy, Chicago
  2. El Hogar del Nino, Chicago
  3. Eyes on the Future, Chicago
  4. Educare Chicago
  5. Educare West DuPage, West Chicago
To date, a total of 84 Tier 5 Awards of Excellence have been achieved by schools and child care centers across the State of Illinois:
  • Family and Community Engagement (26)
  • Inclusion of Children with Special Needs (21)
  • Linguistically and Culturally Appropriate Practice (11)
  • Preschool Teaching and Learning (21)
  • Infant and Toddler Services (5)
Please watch for a summary report of the Awards of Excellence, and a full list of all the awardees, in a future issue of the OECD Newsletter.
ExceleRate Illinois and Head Start Initiatives 

The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development has worked with the Head Start State Collaboration Office to implement an aligned process for Head Start program participation in ExceleRate Illinois, with the transparency and equity required of our state's cross-sector QRIS and encouraged by the Office of Head Start. With the recent completion of a two-year pilot of the expedited enrollment pathway for Head Start programs, coupled with the opportunity for a No-Cost Extension of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant, OECD is pleased to announce two new initiatives to facilitate and support the participation of Head Start programs who wish to enroll in ExceleRate Illinois in 2017. These are:
  • Automatic enrollment in ExceleRate, with presumptive eligibility at the Silver Circle of Quality based only on federal monitoring results, for sites with all early childhood classrooms funded by and directly operated by Head Start grantees
  • Assessment resources for Head Start grantees' directly-operated sites (including schools), which elect to apply for ExceleRate recognition at the Gold Circle of Quality
The first of these initiatives, presumptive enrollment at the Silver Circle,  is thanks to the sixteen Illinois grantees who volunteered to test (and refine) the protocol for the Head Start expedited pathway.  Collectively, they put 81 sites through the process over the past two years, 71 of which have completed ExceleRate enrollment - 74% at Gold, and 26% at Silver - and joined the other 340+ community and school-based Head Start sites already enrolled in ExceleRate through accreditation or assessment pathways. The successful outcome of this pilot allows us to offer the presumptive Silver enrollment opportunity for many other grantees, and we are all grateful for their efforts to make this possible. 
The second of these initiatives, dedicated assessment resources for all Head Start sites,  is in response to requests on behalf of school-based sites, which previously had no funded assessment mechanism. We are happy that we can provide this opportunity through re-allocated funds, which, coupled with the presumptive Silver initiative, can support those who wish to undergo the additional step to achieve Gold.
Please contact Toni Porter at INCCRRA tporter@inccrra.org for more information about eligibility, instructions for the enrollment process, and required documentation/certifications.

Illinois Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Care Partners with DCFS

Illinois Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Care (IPPYC) pilot, which is supported by the MIECHV Grant, will provide pregnant and/or parenting youth in DCFS care with access to voluntary Healthy Families Illinois (HFI) home visiting services.
Home visitors will focus on strengthening overall family well-being by educating young parents about child development, providing support and information about appropriate resources for their children, and providing the knowledge needed to keep their children safe and healthy. Home visitors are equipped to identify and address potential developmental or learning disabilities to ensure the child is prepared for school success. Home visitors will assist young parents with establishing educational and vocational goals and provide parents with support to achieve their goals. Per the HFI model, home visiting services will be tailored to meet the individual needs of each family. The goals of the pilot are to:
  1. promote healthy pregnancies and deliveries, nurturing parent-child relationships, and healthy child development;
  2. enhance family functioning by reducing risk of abuse and building protective factors;
  3. promote pre-school readiness for children;
  4. break the intergenerational cycle of abuse, neglect, and trauma;
  5. increase coordination between the child welfare and home visiting systems in Illinois; and
  6. create a model for providing home visiting services to pregnant and/ or parenting youth in DCFS that can be replicated throughout Illinois.
The IPPYC Pilot was derived from the Home Visiting Task Force (HVTF), a standing committee of the Illinois Early Learning Council.  The HVTF established the HVTF's Home Visiting-Child Welfare Sub-Committee in January 2015 to create a Home Visiting Pilot Program. Its purpose is to serve DCFS wards who are pregnant and/or parenting.
To date, the pilot has 7 HFI sites fully trained and an additional site being trained in early February. Twenty families have been identified and of those, 7 have accepted and started receiving voluntary home visiting services.  
Policy Corner
What Early Learning in ESSA Can Look Like for States and Districts

In late 2015, Congress approved and President Obama signed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replacing the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 and prioritizing equal access to education and closing opportunity gaps. For the first time, Congress incorporated early learning across the law and established an important new initiative, the Preschool Development Grants program.
The early learning provisions were designed to encourage and enable states, school districts, and schools to strengthen and expand connections between early childhood programs and elementary school. 

The First Five Years Fund (FFYF) recognizes that state and local leaders must make an array of policy decisions prior to ESSA's implementation beginning in school year 2017-18, including identifying and adopting effective strategies for maximizing the impact of the law's early learning provisions. FFYF designed a resource to help write innovative ESSA early learning plans . ' What Early Learning in ESSA Can Look Like for States and Districts ' aims to highlight the law's express early learning provisions as well as others that could strengthen and expand early childhood initiatives at the state and local level. 
Partner Spotlight
Innovation Zone Spotlight: Williamson County

Developmental delays in children are often undetected until age five, when a child enters elementary school. Early screening is effective in recognizing delays, identifying needed interventions, and promoting better outcomes for children.
Understanding the importance of developmental screening, the Williamson County Innovation Zone developed a community-wide screening effort by building successful collaborations within their community.  Partners exceeded their goal of screening 80% of all 3-4 year olds and 50% of all children ages birth-5 by June 2016.  During FY 16, 1,447 (93%) children ages 3 and 4, and 2,157 (57%) children birth-five participated in developmental screening.

A steering committee guided the work, while Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) provided training. The Collaborative focused on data collection, family engagement, and establishing partnerships among stakeholders in the community.

Prekindergarten, Head Start, and Early Intervention programs had well-established screening practices.  However, aggregate data inclusive of all three systems was not available. In addition, few child care centers were administering screening with consistency and no data was available.  To address gaps in data collection, the Collaborative decided to use ASQ online.  Alternative procedures for using the system were developed for partners not using ASQ-3 as their primary screening tool.
Initially, screening in child care centers was administered by center staff and community partners.  Concerns about parent engagement, sustainability, and reliability led Collaborative members to adopt a new approach. By having parents complete the questionnaire instead of staff , families are now more empowered to participate in decision-making and goal-setting for their children. Resources were developed to assist programs in reaching out to families and resulted in one program's participation rate increasing from 20% to 100%.  Teacher-conducted screening efforts are now more targeted, following up with children where further monitoring or a referral is indicated. As of Dec. 31, 2016, 3,277 child screening results are now in the region's online data system.
Building on its success, Williamson County secured funding from the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation to expand its developmental screening initiatives, and now includes partners from the medical community. Jackson County Health Department is now piloting the use of ASQ online.
Through formalizing community-wide screening and collaborative efforts, the Williamson County IZ has transformed the way work is done in their communities.  By building a common language based on different perspectives, trusting relationships among partners have been strengthened and a coordinated system is now in place serving children and families for many more years to come.
In the News
Illinois Selected as Pilot Site for the Center of Excellence in Infant Mental Health Consultation

Illinois was chosen to be a recipient of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)'s Center of Excellence (CoE) for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) Technical Assistance (TA) initiative. Acknowledging the importance of mental health consultation in empowering caring adults to build stronger relationships with children so that they feel safe, supported, and valued, SAMHSA'S IECMHC aims to work with states that are ready and committed to improving their IECMHC efforts.
Mental Health Consultation has been a priority in Illinois. The Illinois Mental Health Consultation Initiative (MHC Initiative) was created in 2014, and is made up of public and private stakeholders who worked together in designing a multi-year MHC expansion initiative that advances the goal of a universal, effective, and sustainable IECMHC model in Illinois, with an expanded qualified workforce. Three phases to advance the MHC Initiative were identified. Phase I, which involved a seven-month planning process that included four key components: data collection regarding Illinois mental health consultant characteristics and practices; the development of a mental health consultation model; the creation of a Theory of Change framework to identify project strategies and outcomes; and strategic stakeholder engagement, was successfully carried through.
The three-year TA from SAMHSA'S IECMHC will enhance the work planned for the next two phases, which includes the creation and implementation of a workforce development plan; the designing and piloting of the IECMHC model; the evaluation of the impact of IECMHC on the child/family, professional, and system; and a plan to expand the reach and sustainability of IECMHC across Illinois.
Available Resources

A Closer Look at Equity

Illinois envisions every child to enter kindergarten safe, healthy, eager to learn, and ready to succeed in a rigorous and developmentally-appropriate K-12 curriculum. Crucial to achieving this is to ensure that all children have equitable access to resources and opportunities. Here are some resources for understanding racial equity from a structural perspective and for putting equity into practice:
Rewriting the Racial Rules: Building an Inclusive American Economy a rgues that, in order to understand racial and economic inequality, we must acknowledge the racial rules that undergird our economy and society. Those rules-laws, policies, institutions, regulations, and normative practices-are the driving force behind the patently unequal life chances and opportunities for too many individuals.
Webinar: Moving Equity from Theory to Practice : Working with an equity lens is an intentional decision and a difficult process for an organization to undergo. During this webinar, leaders from the Colorado Trust, Consumer Health Foundation, and Interact for Health will highlight their major accomplishments, lessons learned, and challenges with putting equity into practice in collective impact. Each speaker represents an organization at a different stage in their equity journey. Webinar participants will learn about practical tools and frameworks (e.g., Guidelines for Effective Cross-Cultural Dialogue, National Equity Atlas) that can be used to incorporate equity into their collective impact efforts.

Resources on Workforce Development


The early childhood workforce remains the backbone in safeguarding and facilitating the development and learning of our youngest children. The following resources from the Illinois Education Research Council and Illinois Board of Higher Education are helpful as we continue to strengthen and support the early childhood workforce.

Understanding the Illinois Early Childhood System: Video Series in Spanish


Illinois Action for Children translated its series of videos about the Illinois early childhood system to Spanish. Each of the two minute videos provides a brief overview of the different programs that are part of the Illinois early childhood system, and is accompanied by a fact sheet. The project, which was supported by the Boeing Foundation, aims to help individuals that work with families and young children directly to understand how they can best make referrals and connect them to helpful services, including:
  • Early Head Start/Head Start
  • Early Intervention
  • Child Care Assistance Program
  • Child Welfare
  • Home Visiting programs
  • Preschool
  • Special Education
  • TANF, (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), WIC (Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children), and Family Case Management 
Upcoming Webinars

Understanding the Trump Child Care Plan (February 15)

High-quality child care is critical in helping children develop healthily and ready to succeed in school. It also provides parents the support they need in being productive at work. To know more about the Trump child care proposal, National Women's Law Center is hosting a webinar: What You Need to Know About the Trump Child Care Plan, on Wednesday, February 15at 2 pm EST.  The webinar will cover:

  1. details of Trump's proposed child care plan;
  2. the impact of the plan on low-income families; and
  3. strategies to better meet the needs of low- and middle-income families.
Registration is required to join this FREE webinar. You may register here  by Friday, February 10, or get in touch with Nia Evans at nevans@nwlc.org for any questions.
Addressing Health Disparities in Early Childhood (March 15)
The first years of a child's life plays a significant role in his/her cognitive, social, and physical development. Early experiences occurring when a child's brain and behavior are being shaped affect a child's ability to learn, to get along with others, and to develop an overall state of well-being. Unfortunately, not all children have the same positive experiences or opportunities, which can lead to disparities, including a child's health and well-being.
Research suggests that many disparities in overall health and well-being are rooted in early childhood. For example, those who lived in poverty as young children are more at-risk for leading causes of illness and death, and are more likely to experience poor quality of life. This growing problem costs the United States billions of dollars annually. As our understanding of the lasting value of early experiences continues to grow, we realize the importance of interventions that support healthy development in early childhood in reducing disparities. Addressing these disparities effectively offers opportunities to help children, and benefits our society as a whole.
This March 15, join Grand Rounds as they discuss how we can work together to address health disparities in early childhood through increased collaborations, public health partnerships, and early intervention. Learn more at https://www.cdc.gov/cdcgrandrounds/archives/2016/march2016.htm
Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development | | Diane.Carasig@illinois.gov | earlychildhood.illinois.gov
160 N. LaSalle St. Suite N-100
Chicago, IL 60601