In Illinois, the jarring reality is that only 29% of our children enter kindergarten prepared*. In helping children learn, grow, and stay healthy, we know that families and primary caregivers are an important part of supporting children’s growth.
The Community Parenting Support Saturation Program’s (CPSS) overall goal and outcome is to ensure that families are embraced and supported as the most important influences in their children’s early learning, and every child starts kindergarten thriving, ready to learn and excited about school.
Working with three communities, Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) provides support in their design and implementation of a community saturated approach. Leveraging our expertise in community systems development, we support community collaborations spearheaded by local organizations to implement parenting interventions and identify policy barriers that families face in accessing early care and education services. Through this program, we hope to inform and contribute to the growing research on family and community engagement and community systems in the early childhood field.
What is a Saturated Approach?
Saturation is an array of interventions that collectively address multiple levels of parenting needs and is available to all parents of young children (ages birth to 5) in a community. Such interventions might range from high reach/intensive approaches (e.g., home visiting), to low reach/universal strategies (e.g., public awareness campaigns, parenting apps, etc.).
The program emerged from conversations held by a small group of philanthropic partners that were interested in how to engage primary caregivers to increase the number of children ready for kindergarten in 2017. The following year, this group engaged with Start Early, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and Family Focus to conduct a series of focus groups with families to understand and develop the Community Parenting Support Saturation program vision. IAFC was selected as the Lead Anchor organization in 2019. In 2020, IAFC launched an RFP and selected three communities – Aurora, Rockford, and the North Lawndale neighborhood in Chicago – to pilot the program.
In the spring of 2021, the three communities participated in a human-centered design process facilitated by Greater Good Studio. Each community participated in 10 workshops and 13 coaching calls as part of the human-centered design process. In total, 32 community members were trained, 15 focus groups were conducted, and 150 families were engaged around the initial planning for the program.
Their work on the human-centered design process can be found here:
• Chicago (North Lawndale)
Implementation began in May 2021, following the completion of the human-centered design training.