How We Work

Photo Credit: Harris Theater for Music and Dance

Field Leadership

Foundation staff work shoulder-to-shoulder with our grantees, colleagues and public sector stakeholders. We strive to move critical issues and fill gaps as they arise. Over the years, staff have convened conversations that help inform state and federal policy. Such conversations have led to public and private sector collaborations that leverage greater financial investments, strengthen systems infrastructure and raise the profile of key issues.

Illinois Early Childhood Mental Health Integration Action Plan

In 2014, the Irving Harris Foundation initiated a process of examining early childhood mental health in Illinois. The foundation partnered with public and private sector leaders who shared the view that Illinois needed to address gaps in supports and services and better integrate early childhood mental health into systems serving young children, pregnant women and families. The foundation has worked closely with the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, Voices for Illinois Children, the Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, the BUILD Initiative and many other public and private stakeholders to develop the Illinois Action Plan to Integrate Early Childhood Mental Health into Child- and Family-Serving Systems, Prenatal through Age Five (download Executive Summary here and full plan here).

The Action Plan provides detailed recommendations for how the state can integrate early childhood mental health promotion, prevention/intervention and treatment services into child- and family-serving systems. Some of those recommendations are already moving forward, often with support and guidance from the Foundation. For example, the Foundation has helped to expand access to mental health consultation and training for teachers, home visitors and others who work with and on behalf of young children and their families through the Illinois Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Initiative, the Illinois Early Childhood Court Team Initiative, and replication of the Pyramid Model to name a few.  Foundation team members serve on the leadership teams for all three of these initiatives and have helped ensure that the needs of the most at risk infants, toddlers and families remain a priority and that these investments leverage other public and private efforts working to strengthen access to high quality, comprehensive early childhood services.