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Serving Families Together Initiative

With generous funding from the Grand Victoria Foundation, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), the Illinois Department of Human Services Early Intervention Bureau, Erikson Institute, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) partnered to develop the Serving Families Together Initiative. The overall goal of this two-year initiative, which began in 2017, was to increase access to Early Intervention (EI) and home visiting services for children and families involved in the child welfare system through building cross-systems knowledge and relationships. Through the initiative, a series of community-based cross-trainings were convened throughout the state targeting home visitors, EI providers, and child welfare workers. Cross-training is an intentional and strategic sharing of knowledge and resources across separate service systems in order to improve collaboration and coordination for the benefit of families served in the community.

As the Serving Families Together Initiative came to a close in spring of 2019, a series of focus groups for those who participated on local planning teams for cross-trainings in central and southern Illinois were conducted in order to document lessons learned from the initiative. Initiative leaders then developed a suite of resources intended to extend the impact of the cross-trainings to other communities in Illinois based on what was learned from the focus groups and other evaluation activities during the initiative. The resources include an overview of cross-training, a check-list for planning and executing cross-training, an introductory webinar, as well as a series of webinars (see below) recorded in 2019 and 2020 that offer foundational knowledge for providers who serve families with young children in the Early Intervention, home visiting, and child welfare systems in Illinois. For any questions about the Serving Families Together Initiative and these resources, as well as access to sample cross-training agendas and activities, please contact Carie Bires at

Home visiting

The home visiting webinar reviews the principles and purpose of home visiting in Illinois, identifies the major funders and models in Illinois, and describes how to make referrals. This webinar was recorded in July 2019.

Child welfare

The child welfare webinar details how families and their children enter and engage with the child welfare system, the policies and procedures within DCFS that apply to young children from birth to age five, and resources for early childhood professionals to use when working with DCFS-involved families. This webinar was recorded in March 2020.

Early Intervention 

The Early Intervention (EI) webinar defines the eligibility criteria for EI, outlines the referral and enrollment process, and describes how families receive EI services in Illinois. The principles of EI and the types of services offered are also covered. This webinar was recorded in fall of 2019. (Download the webinar and play the slide show from the beginning to hear the audio recording.)