Historical Context

In 2003, all six of Oak Park’s governmental agencies joined to initiate, fund and guide the Collaboration for Early Childhood, a unique public/private partnership designed to improve local early childhood resources. With more than 90 agencies participating, the Collaboration works to overcome the fragmentation and scarcity of services endemic to the early childhood field by integrating all of our community resources to better meet the needs of the youngest children and their families. Our work is focused on four strategic priorities: 1) the advancement of high-quality preschool for all children, 2) professional development for early childhood providers, 3) parent information and support, and 4) developmental screening. Additionally, we are committed to continuous quality improvement and to engaging in extensive data collection to support short-term evaluations and longitudinal analyses that inform this work.


We champion high-quality early childhood care and learning experiences and support for families so all children develop their full potential.


A community where every child thrives.


C. Collaboration (connection)
A. Action
R. Results
E. Excellence

Foundational Principles

Whole Child. We advocate a comprehensive strategy to support all aspects of every child’s development: physical, social, emotional, cognitive and aesthetic.

Every Child. We work to support every child with a special focus on children with greater needs.

Cultural Competence. We value diversity and affirm the importance of cultural competence and sensitivity to our effectiveness.

Inclusiveness. We are an open organization that welcomes the active engagement and voice of all agencies and people.

Integrity. We adhere to high personal and professional principles by a commitment to honesty, confidentiality, trust, respect and transparency.

Accountability. We are committed to measuring our impact on children, families and services by publicly reporting our progress on outcomes and adjusting our strategies to ensure continuous improvement.

Equity. We are committed to creating a comprehensive, coordinated system of high-quality services and supports for young children and their families designed to reduce disparities in outcomes associated with gender, race, and socioeconomic status.

Download a PDF of our Mission, Vision, Values and Foundational Principles.

The Collaboration is a voice for parents and children regarding issues of early learning both locally and at the State and national level. It works with all elected officials to promote child-friendly policies and programs that support very young children and their families.


The Collaboration has received state and local recognition, serving as the model for the Illinois Early Learning Council. President Obama called for a federal early learning council based on the Illinois model to coordinate policy and resources. The Collaboration has also received local awards from the United Way of Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park and the Oak Park Education Foundation, in recognition of its innovative structure, programs and impact on the well-being of children and families. In April 2010, the Collaboration received the Dr. William Fitzsimmons Public Health Award for its Hearing and Vision Screening Program.

Defining Moments

In December 2007, the Collaboration launched a strategic planning process funded by the Village of Oak Park and Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200, that resulted in the Collaboration’s adoption of a strategic plan titled the “Partnership for Human Development” in January 2009. The plan provides a roadmap for creating a coordinated, high-quality system of early childhood services that will support all of the community’s youngest children and their families and make meaningful progress in narrowing the achievement gap among them as they enter kindergarten. The plan is consciously designed to build on what already exists in the community and to capitalize on public and private sources of funding. Clearly defined benchmarks help all constituencies monitor success.

In July 2009, the Collaboration hired its first executive director and staff to support and guide the implementation of the strategic plan. It initiated a major gifts campaign to increase private funding support for its efforts. The Collaboration established its first office inside The Children’s Clinic, a partner agency then relocated to office space at Oak Park Village Hall in September 2010.


The Collaboration is supported through financial contributions by all of Oak Park’s governing agencies. Foundation, individual and corporate gifts also provide significant financial support. Significant volunteer time and services support the operations of the Collaboration.

The Collaboration’s partners can be viewed here.

The Contract for Early Childhood Services between the Collaboration for Early Childhood and the Village of Oak Park, District 97 and District 200 can be viewed here.

The Collaboration’s Strategic Plan for Partnership for Human Development, 2009 can be viewed here.

View a chart of our Integrated Early Childhood System.