Illinois has a number of initiatives and programs to serve young children and families. Project Success and the Early Intervention Services System are highlighted here.
Project Success is a multi-agency collaborative effort to improve health and social services delivery to children and families in order to ensure that all Illinois children come to school prepared to learn. Piloted in six sites during 1992-93, it is now operating in 33 additional sites throughout the state. The program targets communities with a high percentage of students who are academically at-risk. However, its goal is to involve every Illinois school and community in building a self-sustaining community network of supportive services on behalf of children and families.
The Early Intervention Services System Act, P.A. 87-680, requires ten state agencies, parents, providers, and representatives from the legislature and personnel training institutions to collaborate to integrate services for young children, with disabilities and those who are considered at risk.
Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), has a line item for Project Success in its budget. This money covers one-time start-up grants, technical assistance, evaluation, and operations of the program for FY 94. Funds for the Early Intervention Services System come from the ISBE, Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, as well as other state agencies. Federal programs such as Chapter 1, Even Start, Head Start, Part H, Medicaid, Maternal and Child Health, Child Care Block Grants, and Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) are used for statewide collaboration. Funds also come from local organizations such as the Kiwanis Club, United Way, churches, and synagogues.
Project Success and the Early Intervention Services System provide opportunities for policymakers to cross agency boundaries in designing and offering appropriate programs for children and families. Integrated services are considered to be cost-effective, parents are advocating for such programs, and policymakers have expressed an interest in collaboration.
State-Level Agency Heads and Staff
State-level agency heads and staff have signed many agency/interagency agreements and memoranda of understanding. An agreement between Head Start and ISBE also has been signed. To date, formal meetings and agreements between agency staff and related informal networks have resulted in specialized services, concentrated resources, and streamlined access to services. Efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars is a long-term goal for all state agencies participating in these initiatives.
Local Agency Staff
Many interagency agreements are signed at the local level and many communities have local interagency coordinating councils or local governing boards.
Families are encouraged to be actively involved in local interagency coordinating councils and local governing boards, assisting in the development and monitoring of the communities' initiatives.
Meetings require more time: Mid-level staff meet to communicate and build bridges. It also is difficult to define collaboration and determine how agencies at the state level should amend their policies or activities to respond to needs at the local level. Problems associated with the lack of experience in planning and delivering collaborative efforts are expected at both state and local levels, however technical assistance to improve members' skills will be provided.
With in-depth strategic planning, the Early Intervention Services System and Project Success are both receiving assistance, resources, and support from the state. Further, both efforts focus on strengthening the community's existing structures and using local expertise to better integrate service for children and families.
Posted on March 23, 1995