Illinois Department of Human Services
Division of Family & Community Services
Families with young children (including families who are expecting a child) in select communities.
To create a seamless early childhood system of services and ensure that all families with young children are aware of and have the opportunity to receive the services they need, provide a skilled workforce, promote strength-based practices and facilitate parent leadership.
Community assessment, planning, provider training, parent leadership and systems coordination to better organize and offer strength-based services for families with young children.
The AOK Networks are community-based collaborative efforts among family members, DHS, local health departments, and other local agencies that serve families with young children. Eleven programs serve the following counties: Adams, Carroll, Kane, McLean, Rock Island, St. Clare, Stephenson, Tazewell, and Wabash, Edwards, Will, as well as one on the Greater Westside of Chicago and the Town of Cicero in Cook County.
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The AOK Networks are an innovative solution to the problem of linking and integrating programs that address different facets of early childhood development. The focus is on developing a comprehensive service delivery system that meets families' needs. The networks have:
- conducted community assessments to identify existing local resources and family needs;
- convened regular parent and provider meetings to share information about service needs and appropriate community responses;
- developed and broadly distributed over 12,000 directories of community services annually for young children and their families;
- worked with community partners to increase the number of developmental screenings available to young children and their families;
- involved businesses and the faith communities in identifying families with young children in need of services;
- improved coordination of care and referral systems to ensure timely and appropriate referrals to needed services;
- worked to provide public education messages that highlight important information to over 17,000 families a year with young children;
- identified service providers' continuing education needs; and
- worked with local community colleges and others to improve training opportunities for providers who work with young children.