Reflections on the Partner Plan Act Conference 2016
n June 16, 2016, the Consortium for Community Systems Development held its annual Partner Plan Act Conference in Bloomington, Illinois!  We had a great turnout, wonderful speakers, and informative workshops focused on sustainability and strategies that can be implemented locally.  For those participants that missed the conference, you can download handouts and materials here.

We asked two community leaders to share their reflections on the Partner Plan Act Conference that will help to provide insight and generate ideas for their local communities.

The Power of Parent Engagement:  Christy Poli, Bensenville Early Learning Collaborative, Early Childhood Coordinator

C_Poli_BensenvilleI never thought I would share intimate details of my personal life with a complete stranger at a Partner Plan Act Conference.  However, during Dana Keim’s (Stephenson County AOK) interactive presentation on parent engagement, this is exactly what occurred.  Her thought-provoking strategies to develop parent engagement involved using authentic communication, empathy, and truly listening to a person’s story.  As Dana explained, once you hear a person’s story you never know them the same way.  My biggest take-away from this experience is that effective parent engagement involves checking your role at the door and entering an experience with families believing that everyone has something to contribute.

Just as parent engagement involves listening and empathy, as we learned from the lunch panel, so does effective collaboration.  As an early childhood professional trying to build partnerships within my own school district, it was refreshing to hear both challenges and solutions to creating effective community collaborations.   All of the panel members offered valuable information including the importance of understanding partner agenda’s, data collection, and identifying gaps in services that can be filled through local resources.

Overall, the Plan Partner Act Conference offered valuable tools that I will take back to my school district, community collaboration, and families.

To learn more about the Bensenville Early Learning Collaborative, click here.

To view the materials and handouts from the Family as Leaders Workshop, click here.

Creating a Community ‘Web’ of Support:  Kassia Eide, SPARK Aurora Early Childhood Collaboration Family Resource Coordinator

K_Eide_SPARKEvery time I attend a Partner Plan Act Conference, I feel like I am at a family reunion. It gives me energy and motivation to see familiar faces who are just as passionate about families and community as me.  For many outside of this realm of community systems,  it may be difficult to understand this work – to look at a complex issue such as poverty or education and find a glimmer of hope in an idea for a small solution and be given the reigns to explore the possibilities.  But, at these spaces and meetings, we can find people that understand our community systems work, can congratulate each other on a job well done without needing to be competitive with other communities, and be a support to each other.

On June 16, 2016, my colleague and I were given the opportunity to present our shared intake model that we have been implementing for over a year in Aurora.  The model is also based on a collective impact approach and model. For the Ice Breaker, we created a ‘yarn web’ that connected each of us and our unique gifts through an intricate pattern of support.  It symbolized how we are the community, we are the families that we work for, and if one of us falls, breaks or loses grip, we are not as strong as we could be.  Our future as communities lies in this woven web, we have the power to use our voices and our commitment to make real positive changes for children and families in this state.

To learn more about SPARK Aurora’s Early Childhood Collaboration, click here.

To view the materials and handouts from the Breaking Down Silos: Collaborating for Greater Impact Workshop, click here.

Networking Tools
Visit the “Illinois Early Childhood Community Collaboration Profiles” to connect with peers throughout the state and learn about their work in local communities.   Another opportunity to connect with peers is through Partner Plan Act’s Facebook Page.  Make sure to to give us a ‘like’ today.

Join Illinois Action for Children’s Partner Plan Act mailing list and stay informed on issues impacting field of community systems development.

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