Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton and Chicago Leaders join Erikson to reveal Risk and Reach data

The first-of-its-kind report was previewed at City Club of Chicago

From left to right: Illinois Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, Ric Estrada/Metropolitan Family Services, Phyllis Glink/Irving Harris Foundation, Erikson’s Director of Policy Cristina Pacione-Zayas, and Erikson President and CEO Geoffrey A. Nagle. Photo credit: City Club of Chicago.

Erikson increased public knowledge about the wellbeing of young children in Illinois during a public panel event with City Club of Chicago on March 11. Erikson’s President and CEO Geoffrey A. Nagle, along with the Institute’s Director of Policy Cristina Pacione-Zayas and Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, presented a first look at the new Illinois Risk and Reach Report. A collaborative project of Erikson, Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM) and The Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children, the report provides county-by-county data on the wellbeing of children across the state and the public resources available to them. The data is a tool to inform conversation and ignite action for better resource allocation, dismantle structural barriers, and create solutions to address gaps.

Coverage by news outlets

The event garnered media attention from Chicago’s public radio station, WBEZ, and Chalkbeat, an online publication for education issues. WBEZ reported on Nagle’s address, which featured some of the report’s 32 detailed maps to highlight risk indicators young children under 5 face as well as the public programs and services available to them. These include poverty, lead exposure and kindergarten readiness as well as income assistance, lead testing and developmental screening—to name a few. During his presentation, Nagle explained the immediate benefits of the report, saying, “For the first time, with the Risk and Reach report, we have the information to ask insightful and detailed questions about how the children and families in our communities are doing.”

Nagle also highlighted counties in Illinois that have significant risk factors at play, with little to no services available for young children. In the Chalkbeat write up, author Cassie Walker Burke shared a figure from Nagle’s presentation: “Illinois spends less than 5 percent of its budget on children under 5, two-thirds of whom live in counties where they face high risks to their health or early development, according to a first-of-its-kind report,” she wrote.

Panel Discussion with Early Childhood leaders

Following Nagle’s presentation, a panel including Illinois Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, Ric Estrada of Metropolitan Family Services, and Phyllis Glink of the Irving Harris Foundation discussed the data and its implications for state’s early childhood services. Pacione-Zayas moderated the discussion and posed questions from the audience members. During the conversation, Lt. Governor Stratton shared, “We need to be strategic about where investments can be made. When we talk about what’s best for children 0-5, it impacts all of us. We must prioritize those needs.” Glink agreed, adding, “The Risk and Reach report is central to informing our priorities, our work over time, and alerting us to what needs more attention…We need to make the best decisions for the resources that we have.”  Stratton spoke to the report’s approach to visualizing child development data county-by-county and pairing it with a fiscal scan of the State’s investments. “This report connects the dots in so many ways,” she said. “We need to connect the dots in Springfield instead of looking at factors in singular, siloed ways.”

Webinar to accompany report’s release

To receive notification on when the Risk and Reach report will be available for download, email Erikson’s Policy and Leadership Department at [email protected] Erikson Institute and the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development hosted a free webinar to explore ways to use the report’s data on child wellbeing and publicly funded resources to support optimal conditions for children to thrive.

Learn more

To view the full archival video from the City Club of Chicago event, click here. To learn more about Risk and Reach and to sign up for the April 30 webinar, click here. A brief video explaining what the reports is, and how it can be used, can be viewed here.

Erikson thanks the generous funders who supported the production and dissemination of this critical report: The Irving Harris Foundation, The McCormick Foundation, The J.B and M.K Pritzker Family Foundation and the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation.