The Collaborator
.2021 | FALL EDITION View as Webpage
Fall is an exciting time as children are back in school with new teachers, schedules, and making new friends. For EPEL, Fall is the time to plan based on data, parent conversations and take a deeper dive into the needs and wants of families. EPEL and partners spend time in the community meeting families where they are to listen, build trust, and relationships. Our role is to take this information, coordinate, and co-design with families and partners early childhood systems that are easier to navigate. Like our new logo design and mission, we work to keep children and families at the center of our work. 

This year, more than ever before, we are all grappling with reimagining the system to ensure that children and families, especially those furthest from opportunity, are connected to equitable early childhood services and the resources they need. More money than ever in Illinois is being put into early childhood services to support children, families, providers, and communities through Governor Pritzker's IL Funding Commission recommendations. EPEL is at the table with the statewide Early Childhood Transformation Team in partnership with Northern Illinois University and early childhood leaders across the state to discuss what these systems can look like at a local level. We are honored to be a part of these discussions to keep our community of children and families at the top of the agenda to ensure children, families, providers, and communities have the unique early childhood services it needs. 

Our biggest challenge right now as a community is our lack of educator's in the workforce. We have one early care center that is down 12 educators; therefore, those classrooms can not be open. If childcare centers don't have educators, families can't take their children for care and parents can't work. I challenge you to think about the economic impact this workforce issue has on our community and families and the educational implications for children not receiving the services they need in programs before entering Kindergarten. I welcome your thoughts and action to come up with local solutions.

Thank you for loving children BIG!

Together We Can,
Amber Peters
Executive Director
EPEL's new website is easier to navigate, and the mobile version is more user-friendly. Use the website as a resource if you are a parent/caregiver, early care educator or community partner to find resources to support your children and families. If you have suggestions to add to the website to make it more robust please send those suggestions our way.
Community Partner Continues Diaper Bank
As a COVID response to meet basic needs, EPEL distributed diapers, wipes, books and early learning materials at mobile food pantries, Well Child for WIC families, VNA Health Care, Greater Family Health, U-46, Home Visiting programs, and YWCA. EPEL partner, St. Paul's United Church of Christ have taken over the work and funding diapers for families in the community. Their shirts say, "Shine," and we would agree that they are a ray of Sunshine for many young families in a pinch. Thank you, St. Pauls!
Highland Elementary School students taking a literacy walk during back to school night.
A StoryWalk is an innovative way to enjoy a book that has been taken apart and presented page by page around a path to promote literacy, exercise, and family time.

Our bilingual StoryWalk kick-off at Lord's Park Zoo was a great success. Over 200 people enjoyed storytime with Miss Madeline from Gail Borden Public Library and then visited the StoryWalk signs.
Do you wonder what the 2022 Getting Ready for Kindergarten Calendar cover will look like? If you are a calendar sponsor, you get a sneak peek.

The Family Activity calendar gives daily tips on how to prepare your child for school. Each month focuses on important skills needed to set your child up for success in school.

The calendar includes:
  • Tip sheets on needed early learning skills
  • Monthly books lists to check out at your local library
  • QR Codes for short tip videos on how to use the early learning calendar and tips on engaging your child


Do you have an EPEL book basket that you had available for families to enjoy in your business? Families are out and about, and it is time to dust the books off and see if your basket needs a refresh. Click below so we can refill your basket, or let us know if you would like one for your business waiting room.

Free Early Learning Texting Program for Spanish Speaking Families
Neighborhood Impact Learning On the Go
Partners held true to Together We Can this summer to serve children in five neighborhoods across Elgin and Streamwood/Hanover Park. A dedicated group of bilingual educators and partners mobilized for eight weeks heading into the neighborhoods to meet families where they are. Days consisted of storytime, songs, and modeling of best practices for early learning activities that support needed Kindergarten readiness skills. Families made friends, engaged with community partners for resources and built relationships.

The libraries were on-site and reported successful outcomes in books checked out and families engaged. Poplar Creek Library engaged a family who said they didn't realize that there was programming available in Spanish at the library. Poplar Creek staff broke that barrier and provided access by inviting them to come to the library. This family is now seen at the library multiple times a week.

Goals: ENGAGE and BUILD relationships with families, Sign up children for SCREENINGS, SUPPORT caregivers, and ENROLL children for programs!
BUENA VISTA NEIGHBORHOOD: Working on fine motor skills. Mom had trouble getting her daughter to go home because she wanted to string more beads. Problem solved by sending home a small bag of beads.
MULBERRY NEIGHBORHOOD: Dads and grandparents were involved too.
Families enrolled in early care programming from the comfort of their neighborhoods to reduce barriers to enrolling.
GAIL BORDEN PUBLIC LIBRARY: The book bus came to all sites except River's Landing, where the book bike joined us. The book bike had more books checked out than the bus; we suspect it was because it had closer proximity to programming. 
CENTURY OAKS NEIGHBORHOOD: Families built relationships with other families and even stayed to play on the playground after with their new friends.
STREAMWOOD: PARKWOOD ELEMENTARY Served the largest number of children ages 6 and up and largest number of community partners involved.
RIVER'S LANDING NEIGHBORHOOD: Mom read to her boys in English and Spanish because she had access to bilingual books.
September Calendar Pages and Videos
Check out the tips above for Parents and Teachers for September on using the calendar as a teaching tool.
to the Language in the Laundromat Family
Everything Clean our newest Language in the Laundromat partner is located at 145 S. Randall Rd. Owners Brian and Donna Harrington have a family approach. They have built a beautiful Early Learning Center in the laundromat with bilingual books, activities, and resources for families to support the journey of preparing children for school. Early learning manipulatives can be checked out at the front desk to use while waiting for your laundry to wash and dry. Community partners will be offering storytime a couple of times a month, so keep your eyes on social media for times and dates. Books and materials are available at all times for learning!
** Looking for laundry partners in Streamwood and Hanover Park.
The first five years of life, when 85-90% of brain growth occurs, 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 Vision: Our Children are Happy, Healthy, and Ready for Kindergarten.
Developmental Screenings Available
Children develop skills and reach milestones at their own pace. EPEL, School District U-46, Easterseals, and community partners work together to ensure all families have the opportunity to have their child screened. All partners above offer free developmental and social-emotional screenings, support, and opportunities to enroll their children in programs from birth to five.

100 Years
serving children in the community

Shout out to our amazing Learning On The Go Educators from YWCA Elgin Family Literacy and Give Me Five U-46.