Illinois Action for Children partnered with early childhood collaborations to provide guidance on generating actionable strategies for sharing the Early Childhood System Video Series with their local community members. Through this process, many creative ideas were developed by the collaborations that helped them build stronger partnerships within their communities. We hope their ideas inspire you and help you to:

  1. Raise awareness about early childhood programs and services;
  2. Cultivate community partnerships; and
  3. Create or strengthen referrals between programs and services.

The tips generated by our reviewing collaborations cover:

   Tips for Marketing

Promote the video series through your organization’s communication channels to raise awareness of early childhood services within your own communities.

  • Create a calendar for social media alerts that feature a different video each week or month to build interest in the early childhood system. Cross-share the post on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. (See sample posts)
  • Feature a video in your e-newsletters to educate your community members about a different early childhood program. (See sample newsletter text)
  • Make it easy for your partners to learn about early childhood – provide a direct link to the videos on your organization’s website.
  • Share and discuss one or two videos at each collaboration meeting to educate your members.
  • Include the Fact Sheets about the programs in your regular meeting handouts.

   Tips for Building New Partnerships

Collaborations used the videos to develop new partnerships with early childhood programs they didn’t know well but wanted to work with more closely.

  • Set up a meeting with a future partner and preview the video that you know would capture their interest in early childhood.
  • Highlight the mutual benefits of collaborating between programs and identify the different ways you can develop your relationship.
  • Provide copies of the fact sheets or videos as a giveaway for the partner’s to use in their own events.

   Tips for Informing Families of Early Childhood Services

Though the videos were designed with service providers in mind, collaborations have found them useful for families as well.

  • Feature the videos in waiting room TV screens.
  • Place program fact sheets in reception areas and waiting rooms.
  • Include a flash drive of all the videos and fact sheets as parent giveaways or as a raffle prize.

   Tips for Training New Staff on the Early Childhood System

All organizations experience staff turnover, and it can be challenging to train new staff about the broader early childhood system. The video series can offer a quick and simple way to give new staff the knowledge that they need about early childhood programs. With this information, staff maybe in a better position to help families access early childhood services.

  • Include videos in new staff onboarding or orientation process. Have a group discussion of the resources.
  • Include program fact sheets in their new hire packets.

   Tips for Hosting a Community Viewing Event

The video series can be a springboard for community conversations around early childhood issues and can lead to opportunities to build relationships with new partners, such as law enforcement, faith-based organizations, or businesses.

  • Invite community members and stakeholders that would benefit from watching the videos and/or who you would like to engage more.
  • Lead a discussion about the importance of early childhood programs for families. Sample discussion questions:
    • oHow can these videos be useful to you in your role as someone who serves children and families?
    • How comfortable do you feel referring children and families to different programs after watching the videos? What other information would you need in order to make a referral?
    • Who else could benefit from watching these videos?
    • How else can we increase collaboration between different programs and systems within Early Child Care and education?
  • Use one one video per community meeting or strategically place videos within meetings to support learning about a featured system.

   Tips for Supporting a Coordinated Referral System

Many children and families in Illinois often use multiple social services. A coordinated referral system can be a powerful way for a collaboration to improve access to services for children and families more efficiently and effectively.

  • Ask potential new partners if you could show the videos at their staff meetings. Lead a conversation on the benefits of cross-referrals and a partnership with your organization.
  • Encourage all partners to promote the videos and fact sheets in their organization to build internal knowledge of early childhood.

   Tips for Educating Future Teachers About Early Childhood Services

Some early childhood professionals that teach at their local higher education institution shared that they use the videos to teach students about early childhood services. The videos are integrated in their early childhood courses and are a good introduction to the early childhood system for students. Students also learn about what’s available in their community.

    • Require students to watch the videos for coursework.
    • Share the videos in your class. Lead a discussion about the programs.
    • Assign group presentations on each video as a course assignment. Encourage students to interview program staff of the early childhood programs as a way to learn about local community resources.
    • Ask students to create a community resource directory after watching the videos to identify the local early childhood partners in their community.

Do you have ideas to share? Email us at partnerplanact@actforchildren.org to share.