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Evaluation Highlights from Pilot Phase July 2005 – June 2007. Prepared for Leadership Team Meeting January 11, 2008 . Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC) Qualitative summary of pilot phase (July 2005 – June 2007) based on: 24 key informant interviews Data from learning networks

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Evaluation Highlights from Pilot Phase

July 2005 – June 2007

Prepared for Leadership Team Meeting

January 11, 2008

Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC)

Qualitative summary of pilot phase (July 2005 – June 2007) based on:

24 key informant interviews

Data from learning networks

Project reports to DCFS and CSSP

Collateral materials

Final report projected completion: Feb. 2008

Evaluation of SFI:

Promising framework (Protective Factors) and a challenge (embed Strengthening Families in your early childhood and child welfare systems)

Needed to develop initiative from the ground up:

Child welfare connection to early childhood

Local center based pilot approach


Parent engagement


Systems change


In the Beginning:

Grew from 23 to 40 state partners

6 Learning Networks (One in Each DCFS Region) with 50 early childhood centers participating

5,000 parents and 6,200 children reached through participating centers

140 early childhood professionals trained as trainers for SFI training

Mental Health Consultants

Child Care Nurse Consultants

Prevent Child Abuse IL Prevention Resource Developers

U of I Extension Family Life Educators

Learning network participants

Trainings delivered to approximately 350 early childhood providers through learning networks

On calendars of Childcare Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&R) and Illinois Resource Center (ISBE)

Synergy and Reach:

National Impact
  • Illinois leads the way:
    • Comprehensive approach
    • Child welfare leadership
    • Parent engagement
    • Family child care
    • Professional development
    • Evaluation tool development
    • Communications tools
Parents as Primary Target Audience
  • Parent engagement in developing:
    • Grassroots public awareness campaign
    • Process to get protective factor information directly to parents (LINE Parent Cafes)
Embedding Strengthening Families practice in early childhood centers requires:

Leadership of the center fully committed

Availability and connection to resources

Staff training for teachers, family workers

Maintaining learning networks

Hub Coordinator role = critical to network success

Competing priorities of participating centers

Sustaining and expanding network membership (turnover)

Forming additional networks (meeting demand)

Lessons Learned / Challenges


Maintaining quality


Incentives for programs to access


Creation of tools

Dedicated staff and resources for data analysis

Lessons Learned / Challenges

Partner collaboration

Big vision and valuable work = engagement

Relationship building

Competing priorities

Agility and ability to adapt (go with the flow)

Child welfare collaboration

Direct relevance to children & families in the system (need to make the link)

Need dedicated staff to make collaboration happen

Building relationships among caseworkers and early childhood staff

Data systems needed

Lessons Learned / Challenges

Expand effort to make greater impact with children and families:

Increase coordination of training opportunities through Illinois CCR&R Agencies

Sustain existing learning networks and support growth in additional communities

Meet growing demand for SFI training and technical assistance in non-pilot communities


Commit resources to studying, ascertaining, and documenting impact of Strengthening Families

Continue support of partners in attracting private and state funding in support of Strengthening Families work

Expand initiative through partners

Embed Protective Factors beyond the arena of early care and education

Improve data systems

Recommendations (cont):

Background: In the pilot phase, our mission was guided by the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s priorities:

“Prevent child abuse and neglect and promote the health and well-being of children and families by working with child care centers and child welfare agency staff to incorporate evidence-based protective factors in early childhood services and systems statewide.”

Small Group Discussion & Feedback

Question: Given the direction and vision of DCFS and the strengths of the initiative to date, what is the mission of the Strengthening Families Initiative for the next five years?

Large Group Discussion

What does the collaboration / mission need from DCFS in its leadership role?

Large Group Discussion:

What is your agency or organization’s role as a partner in realizing the mission? (What are you prepared to contribute? What do you stand to gain?)