Operating Together: The ECA and LAN 41
Leaders from Niles Township public schools, local private early childhood providers, non-profit organizations, and libraries joined to form the Early Childhood Alliance. They collectively realized that early learning and care of young children in the community occured in “silos.” Frequently, social service and educational providers served the same children without making coordinated referrals to and from each other. The leaders recognized the scope of need and began engaging a group of stakeholders who each demonstrated an active interest in the community’s early childhood landscape.
Over the next few years the ECA evolved and is now engaged in purposeful expansion to bring more voices, including parents, to the table. The ECA is committed to making collaborative strategic decisions with the community, for the community. As part of the ECA's growth, in 2020, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) awarded Niles Township Local Area Network (LAN 41) funding to build an operating structure between LAN 41 and the ECA.
LAN 41 works with DCFS, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Department of Human Services to serve children experiencing a mental health crisis whose care requires public funding from one of the three agencies. ECA works across diverse partners in Niles Township to connect vulnerable families with young children to well-being, education and intervention services.
Together LAN 41 and ECA are working to:
Connect more children and families to early childhood resources and supports
Provide expanded professional learning on trauma and ACEs for community leaders and families
Distribute emergency wraparound funds to meet immediate needs of families in Niles Township
In addition to the mission and vision of the ECA, this unique partnership is designed to build a stronger Niles Township where children are connected to important services, including early care and education, and their caregivers are connected to the supports including mental health services, emergency funds, medical or dental care, and other social service supports.