Network Coordinator: Maria Cuevas (630) 221-5341 Maria.Cuevas@dupagehealth.org
Address: 111 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Improving Coordination and Connection to Improve the Early Childhood System
DuPage County is located 20 miles west of Chicago and is home to 930,759 people, of which 65,454 are children aged 5 and under. The community is predominantly white (79.5%), Hispanic or Latino (14.6%), and Asian (12.7%). Nineteen percent of the county was born outside of the US and speak languages as diverse as Thai, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Farsi, Arabic and more. DuPage County is home to 39 municipalities including Naperville, Oak Brook, St. Charles, Glen Ellyn and Lisle.
The DuPage County AOK Network formed in June 2022 to improve alignment among cross-sector partners and early childhood collaborations. DuPage County has many collaborative efforts organized in the region. There are no fewer than 12 unique community-based early childhood collaborations in the county, including two based at the county-level. Several early childhood partners are already working together as part of different existing initiatives. Despite deep engagement among community partners, not all organizations communicate with each other when making referrals or serving families. Some collaborations work in silos, creating poor coordination within the larger community system.
The DuPage County AOK Network seeks to improve the local early childhood system by working with existing collaborations to streamline services and reduce duplication among community partners. Starting with existing coordinated intake efforts, the AOK Network will expand the implementation of IRIS, a web-based information, referral, and intake platform. Additional service providers will be onboarded as IRIS users to increase their ability to connect children and families not only to home visiting services, but also to high quality early childhood programs, social service providers, medical and dental services, job training programs, and other community resources. A more coordinated information and referral network will make it easier for families with young children to access needed services.
In addition, the AOK Network will build the capacity of Network partners in DuPage to define strategies toward aligning efforts. Parent ambassadors will be recruited in DuPage County as partners in decision making. Through grassroot efforts Parent Ambassadors will gather parent and caregiver insights to improve the local early childhood system of services and supports.
The DuPage County AOK Network knows that for children to get the best start in life, families need a strong community system where organizations and collaborations work together toward common goals for young children. By communicating and coordinating services across service sectors through IRIS and a strong AOK Network that includes parent voice, the DuPage County AOK Network will be better prepared to improve outcomes for children and families.