Child Care Resource and Referral at John A. Logan College Back to JALC

Coalition for Children & Families

History

Between 2006 and 2008, a core group of early education partners from cross sectors (Head Start, DCFS Licensing, Pre-K, Early Intervention CCR&R and other early childhood leaders) worked in partnership with the Southern Illinois Community Foundation to make recommendations as part of its Community Works grant on how to strengthen early care and education in southern Illinois. The process included community focus groups, lengthy and thoughtful discussions, research, and review of data. The end result was clear awareness that the current system (or lack of system) was not working.

A recommendation was made to form a Coalition, a “neutral fiscal and coordinating body” to help facilitate the development of a regional, well-coordinated system with a collective and common vision for southern Illinois’ children. All children in southern Illinois should have access to quality early childhood experiences with the same opportunities for a happy and healthy life. The new Coalition would not develop new products or services, but help connect the dots and fill in the gaps. Existing resources and investments would become part of the early learning system, and it was an essential requirement that there would not be duplication of something already in place. Smaller, existing systems/ partnerships would receive support to be better coordinated, take on new roles and be part of the overall early care and education system. After exploring and researching numerous community coalition models, “The Children’s Coalition of Southern Illinois” was created, modeled after the Evansville Early Childhood Coalition. An impressive group of professionals representing all sectors of the region (education, business, civic, advocacy, economic development, clergy, early childhood, health, media, etc.) agreed to serve on the Advisory Board. This group met several times and worked to finalize the governance structure. By-laws were drafted and plans were made to begin the regional strategic planning needed to move the Coalition’s work forward. Then, the bottom dropped out of the state’s budget and many partners retreated into survival mode as they were working to protect and preserve their individual agencies / programs. It was determined in the spring of 2010 to temporarily put the work on hold. The Coalition’s work is now back on track and it has been renamed the Southern Illinois Coalition for Children and Families. Child Care Resource and Referral at John A Logan College facilitates the work of the Coalition.

Family picture

Quality child care benefits all industries by enabling parents to work productively outside of the home and attend higher education programs to upgrade their skills.