Over the past year, thanks in part to the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Family Engagement Initiative, COFI has expanded its parent leadership and organizing work to seven new communities across Illinois. In doing so, we have trained and engaged over 200 new parents at 15 different sites, including families from Elgin, pictured above. These parent leaders from across the state have, in turn, created parent teams to work on projects that they believe will make a difference for families with young children in their neighborhoods.
Parents in East St. Louis, for instance, knocked on hundreds of doors to get the word out about the availability of early childhood developmental screenings. Within 5 days, 122 children under 5 years old and their parents showed up for screenings. Below, Cynthia Hudson, Tanikka Simpson and Jane Brown-Owens serve as Greeters for the parents as they come in for screenings at the Vivian Adams Early Childhood Center. The screenings not only helped to connect children with high-quality early learning programs, but also alerted some families to possible developmental concerns or delays. This project is coordinated with the Race-to-the-Top Early Learning Challenge/Innovation Zone initiative. So far, 100% of the families that completed exit evaluations said they will recommend the screening to a friend, neighbor or relative.