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Illinois Action For Children

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Child Day Care, Children & Youth, Education, Food, Nutrition, Preschools

Mission: Illinois Action for Children is a catalyst for organizing, developing and supporting strong families and powerful communities where children matter most.

About: As a state and national leader in early care and education community, Illinois Action for Children stands distinguished by its "strong families, powerful communities" approach to child development, pre-k education, and other family and community supports.

We are celebrating our 50th anniversary of combating poverty and racial injustice through access to high quality early care and education, family and community services that help parents achieve stability and self-sufficiency, coalition building to create a continuum of care and support for disadvantaged children and families, and policy and advocacy initiatives that strengthen the state's early childhood system. Vision: Illinois Action for Children envisions a future in which:

  • Children and families are a priority;
  • All children and families, especially those most vulnerable, have the opportunities and resources they need;
  • A broad-based coalition of public and private funders and collaborators support our Mission; and
  • Our diverse and talented staff demonstrates on a daily basis that every action can change a life.

Results: In the last year, Illinois Action for Children has served more than 175,000 children and families and nearly 40,000 early care and learning professionals. Your Impact is Meaningful: In Early Learning... Before starting at IAFC’s Early Learning Program, Gabriel Alvarez was virtually silent at home and in school—he wouldn’t even communicate when he was hungry or needed to use the washroom. IAFCs Early Learning teachers and staff worked closely with Gabriel in order to identify the root cause of his reluctance to speak. The teachers assessed the situation and discovered that Gabriel had a speech impediment. They quickly informed Gabriel’s parents and assisted the family in finding a speech therapist to help the preschooler overcome his impediment. Today, Gabriel is making friends, he’s active in the classroom, and he’s well on his way to a much brighter future. In Family and Community Engagement... Tanzania Vaughn was chronically absent from school in second grade and was on the verge of being declared chronically absent in third grade. Fortunately, her mom began working with North Lawndale READS team, a pilot program of the Steans Family Foundation, now in its third year, to address issues of chronic absenteeism Pre-K through third grade. That’s when everything changed for the better. Tanzania didn’t want to miss school but she had a serious case of Sickle Cell Anemia. In the winter, the cold temperatures would literally lock her bones making a walk to school impossible. Tanzania’s mom worked two jobs and couldn’t drive her to school on a daily basis. With close ties to the community, the North Lawndale READS staff knew there was a solution right in the neighborhood. By simply bringing parents together, Tanzania’s mom soon made a connection with another mom who agreed to drive Tanzania to school during the winter. Tanzania hasn’t missed a day of school due to weather since. And in so much more... Nearly 3,000,000 healthy meals and snacks provided to children through our Healthy Food Program More than 100 early care and learning centers receiving early childhood mental health services that help child care providers and preschool teachers build the social emotional development of the children in their care Engaging early care and learning providers throughout Cook County to have their buildings lead tested and address high levels of lead that may impact the health of the children they serve Together, we can build brighter futures for Illinois' children and families. Join us!

Target demographics: the most vulnerable children and families acquire and maintain access to the high-quality care and education and other vital systems of family and community support needed to succeed in school and in life

Direct beneficiaries per year: As a state and national leader in the early care and education community, Illinois Action for Children served more than 160,000 children and families and nearly 40,000 providers in the last year alone.

Geographic areas served: Illinois

Programs:
Early Learning Programs:
IAFCs Early Learning Programs make high-quality early education available to young children so that they will be ready to succeed when they start kindergarten. This includes four Early Learning Centers in Chicago’s South Suburbs; Home Visiting, which provides critical support for pregnant women and mothers with children birth through age three; and a network of 18 Early Learning Partners in Cook County’s south and west suburbs, private early childhood centers which IAFC supports through certified teachers, professional development and other supports to enhance their quality and ability to serve the most at-risk children and families. IAFCs priority is serving children who would otherwise not have access to early care and education, and training parents to excel as their children's first teacher.
Public Policy and Advocacy:
Illinois Action for Children's public policy & advocacy program organizes nearly 4,000 advocates statewide to connect with their elected officials and urge them to make the needs of children and families, including expanded access to child care and early education, a priority in Illinois.

Provider Resources :
Provider Resources offers several programs that focus on creating excellence in early care and education, including a variety of program improvement and staff professional development opportunities (more than 14,000 providers received nearly 3,000 hours of training in the last year); operating the Healthy Food Program, which provides education and (federal) reimbursement to home-based Family Child Care Providers who follow USDA guidelines and serve nutritious foods to the children in their care; and Mental Health Consultation, which provides support to early care and education providers in developing appropriate learning environments and delivering strategies to address difficult behaviors that may arise in the classroom.

Community Systems Development (CSD)
: CSD has been our approach to leading and supporting community collaborations to build and continuously improve local systems of early childhood services for nearly a decade. In FY18 we began a partnership with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) ISBE to design and deliver comprehensive capacity building supports for early childhood community-wide collaborations throughout Illinois. Our focus will be on training, technical assistance, and coaching to community collaborations that are focused on enrollment of high-need children ages 0-5 into high-quality early learning programs.

Family and Community Partnerships :
Family and Community Partnerships deepens and expands families’ relationships with Child Care providers, faith-based communities, local service providers, businesses, and communities, through family engagement training (fathers and grandparents groups); and community engagement capacity building and technical assistance.
Family Resources:
Illinois Action for Children administers the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and serves as the Child Care Resource and Referral Services (CCR&R) agency for the Illinois department of human services (IDHS) in Cook County, Illinois. Through these programs IAFC helps tens of thousands of low-income families each year access quality child care/early education while they work or go to school. .

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Sari Rubin and Chris Tokarski
You guys are amazing. After few months that I was trying to get help from my provider After I was so Hopeless you guys got me and help me and your willing to help absolutely get the results done perfectly.
I so appreciate everything you have done life it’s not easy and it’s makes you feel so confidant And relax When you feel and see that you have real support . Thank you again to all of this amazing program

Client Served

Rating: 2

I am a parent who has been receiving assistance since 2017 from Illinois action for Children. As long as i was working it was not interrupted but as soon as i began school it became very tedious to get the same assistance i had received. I would turn paperwork in and it would take weeks to process and then when i called to check it via phone they would tell me it was processing. I started school in January of this year and i still have not recieved a change to my account. Alot of paperwork for school i have turned in numerous of times. I had to have my provider turn it in for them to actually say they recieved it. I ended up having to pay a co pay for 7 months even though i wasnt working just because my paperwork wasnt updated. I also had to drop a class because i missed to many days from not being able to put my kids in daycare. I am so disappointed and this issue still hadnt been resolved positively. My childcare was ultimately canceled due to them not receiving my grades which i turned in with my schedule. I have contemplated working and dropping out of school because of this. I just hope that a positive outcome happens after all because my family is struggling.

Comments ( 2 )

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lyndsey.schneider 07/25/2019

Hi Danniep, Thank you for contacting us—we are sorry that you have had a frustrating experience with your Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) paperwork. Your child care needs are important to us, and we work to respond to all cases in a timely manner. Please contact Chis Tokarski, our Child Care Assistance Program Director, and he will look into this for you and provide additional information. Thank you, The Illinois Action for Children Team Chris Tokarski Child Care Assistance Program Director Illinois Action for Children 312.823.1394 (d) tokarskic@actforchildren.org www.actforchildren.org

profile

lyndsey.schneider 07/25/2019

Hi Danniep, Thank you for contacting us—we are sorry that you have had a frustrating experience with your Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) paperwork. Your child care needs are important to us, and we work to respond to all cases in a timely manner. Please contact Chis Tokarski, our Child Care Assistance Program Director, and he will look into this for you and provide additional information. Thank you, The Illinois Action for Children Team Chris Tokarski Child Care Assistance Program Director Illinois Action for Children 312.823.1394 (d) tokarskic@actforchildren.org www.actforchildren.org

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

Hello my name is Schamaki Bryant and I am looking to promote my home daycare. I am currently non exempt so I can except three kids, I also started at the age of two. Please feel free to reach out to me at 773–936-8711

2 Feisty Fee Fee W.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Illinois Action For Children has great training programs for Teachers and people working in the field of Early Childhood Education. I'm a Teacher and I've taken several trainings sponsored by them. I just finished a second training 3 days ago. I'm just grateful that they offer providers the resources to access and take the trainings. The only thing that I'd like them to work on for the new year is, having a better phone system. It is extremely hard to reach them via telephone to sign up for trainings. I'd like them to consider working with another ticket service with an option to input our Gateway number in through the service. That would be extremely helpful when they host another Early Childhood Symposium at City Colleges of Chicago.

2 Linda W.3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Our agency is so thankful for our partnership with AFC in supporting working families and providing continuous professional development for our early educators! The work that AFC does on behalf of Illinois early learners is invaluable!

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Illinois Action for Children is a great public policy and advocate agency for the families of Illinois. They were instrumental in helping restore eligibility requirements in childcare subsidies which helped over 20,000 families regain access to child care. AFC is a great non-profit that far exceeds expectations in serving children and families.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I support Illinois Action for Children because they are dedicated to providing the children and families of IL with top quality early childhood education. They are a voice for those who need them most as they continue to positively impact families and communities through innovative education and leadership. In times like these, we need Illinois Action for Children more than ever!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve been very fortunate to collaborate with Illinois Action for Children in the capacity of a volunteer as well as a donor. Over several years of working with this amazing organization, I continue to be impressed by the support that IAFC provides to the most vulnerable children and families in our community. The time that I have spent as a volunteer on the Associates Board has been incredibly rewarding, and the passion of other volunteers who support IAFC is wonderful to see. The company that I work for was honored to donate a full classroom of materials to help in the mission of Early Childhood Education Matters. I have also worked with IAFC to create innovated learning environments that will enable many children to have the best opportunity possible to grow and learn. The staff at IAFC is dedicated, always giving back, encouraging others, and they are truly making our community a better place to live!

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Action for Children is an incredibly valuable early childhood resource, trainer and advocacy leader for Illinois. ACF's team not only supports childcare providers with knowledge and financial resources, they are a strong and consistent advocate advancing high-quality education, accountability and justice for Illinois' children and families - regardless of income, race, zip code, documentation status or family make-up.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Most recently, I had the opportunity to work with Illinois Action for Children as a volunteer for their annual fundraiser, A Night to Shine . It was a tremendous opportunity to engage with IAFC staff members and champions of the organization. Everyone I met was equally passionate about the mission and vision of IAFC and it was wonderful to see so much support for the organization while volunteering at the fundraiser.

After teaching preschool in the city of Chicago myself, I have seen first hand the positive impact this amazing organization has had on the most vulnerable children and families in IL. Their dedication to to children, families, and communities is contagious and I very much look forward to continuing to engage with IAFC for years to come.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the opportunity to work with IL Action for Children as a volunteer on their Associates Board. I have seen first hand the positive impact this amazing organization has had on the most vulnerable children and families in IL. Whether it's raising money to fund a brand new playground for Chicago's most vulnerable children so that they have a safe place to play or seeing how they create state of the art early childhood centers, money raised for this organization goes to support their mission of developing and supporting strong families and powerful communities where children matter most.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Illinois Action for Children is a great organization, and behind it we discovered a great group of people. Planting and beautifying the area merely symbolizes the growth that the folks on the inside are doing... both young and old alike, making children and families a priority. I'm thankful I got to be a small part of it. Let us know if you need our help again for this very worthy nonprofit!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What a great opportunity I had to join some colleagues for a day of planting flowers, cleaning up the grounds and interacting with the children. I had the chance to paint pots with one of the classrooms and had a blast! The children were so excited to have this opportunity and so engaged with their teachers. The staff we worked with at IL Action for Children was outstanding! These wonderful people are so dedicated to the children and really making a difference. Being able to give back for a day and witness the great work being done is something I'll never forget. I highly encourage others to consider this nonprofit and see all that they do.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We had the pleasure of working with Illinois Action For Children a few weeks ago, and it was incredible to see how this organization works with the children and the community. We only got to see a "snap-shot" of just 1 day, but the dedication and commitment to the Children of the community by the faculty and staff was incredible to see. Personally, I got to work directly with the children, and it was amazing to me. Every set of eyes lit up planting the vegetables, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. To see those smiles on all of their faces made it an experience I will not forget. I HIGHLY recommend getting involved, not only b/c it is the right thing to do, but the it can truly make a difference.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a great organization to help our youth. We worked with this group to help not only beautify the grounds, but help the children plant vegetables they can take home to their family. If you have a few hours to spar, I would highly suggest spending some time volunteering for this well respected organization.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As part of our community outreach we look for charities that we can do more than just donate money to. Not that money is not important but working together as human beings and showing we care matters just as much. Illinois Action for Children gave us the perfect opportunity to do just that. We got a team of over a dozen employees together and did a school beautification day. We planted flowers and shrubs, we fixed up the playground, and helped the kids plant some things that will grow like they are! We helped create an environment where young children who may not have a ton of advantages can feel good about going to learn. I hope some of the children got a chance to see their community does care about them and they are our future. I cant thank IAFC enough for this great chance to come together and do some good in the world.