Gagliardo: Working to change 'the system'

By Devan Gagliardo – Program Director of the Community Foundation of Grundy County

June 9, 2016

Have you ever wished you could change “the system?”

My guess is everyone reading this has said that at some time about some system for some reason. In most cases, none of us alone will change “the system.”

Instead, it takes the cooperation and collaboration of many to see change.

The Grundy Partnership for Children has been around for more than a decade, although not always under the same name, trying to ensure that the children of Grundy County are prepared for lifelong learning and to address early childhood care and education issues.

GPC is made up of mainly individuals who work with our young children ages birth to 5 years old. During the last two years, this group has struggled to make headway for a variety of reasons.

In December 2015 the group decided to “merge” with the Will County All Our Kids Network for a short time since the majority of GPC members were already involved with the Will County AOK because they serve both counties.

Soon after joining forces with Will County AOK, they were given the opportunity to take part in a free systems change training called Able Change Framework.

This framework was developed at Michigan State University and has been used in Michigan to bring change to “the system” in a variety of sectors.

I have been lucky enough to be involved in this training as part of the Will County AOK.

As you can imagine, change doesn’t happen overnight and neither does the legwork to make the changes.

Our team of six has been working together since February to begin the process of change, starting by attending a two-day training on the Able Change Framework.

During these two days, we choose the problem – children are not socially and emotionally ready for kindergarten – we wish to be solved in the early childhood sector.

After that training we hit the ground running, collecting data and analyzing the data with the larger Will County AOK group.

Just last week, the team spent another two days at a second training where the focus was really looking at the root causes of why children are not kindergarten ready and beginning to create strategies to fix these problems.

Two full days of working on an issue and its root causes can leave you wishing there was a magic wand that could fix it all with one wave!

We still have one more two-day training this fall and a whole lot of work to do in between to collect more data, to better understand why children are not kindergarten ready, and to begin implementing strategies for change.

As I said earlier, many of the GPC members are also members of Will County AOK; therefore, many of the issues we are working on with the Able Change Framework are similar to issues Grundy County has.

The plan is to duplicate the work we are doing in Will County in Grundy County.

The team fully understands the issues may not be identical, but we at least have a process in place to better understand the needs of Grundy County as it pertains to early childhood care and education.

As we near the time when we can begin working on issues in Grundy County, we will be reaching out to local partners and stakeholders for assistance, information and support.

If you are someone who previously was not involved with GPC but would like to be moving forward, contact Devan at 815-941-0852 or [email protected].

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