About Chicago Commons – Chicago, IL
Chicago Commons supports Chicagoland communities by providing high-quality social services through various programs to 4,000 individuals. One of their key initiative is their early childhood education program which annually reaches more than 1,750 children from as young as 6 weeks in age to 12 years in age. Their four National Association for the Education and Young Children (NAEYC) accredited early education centers ensure that children are prepared for kindergarten and ready to learn.
Chicago Commons’ programs serve children from 15 communities across Chicago, and their directly-operated centers specifically reach children in the neighborhoods of Back of the Yards, Humboldt Park, and Pilsen. Through evaluations of Chicago Commons Centers’ academic impact and classroom quality, 85% to 99% of their children meet or exceed widely-held expectations across various educational domains. In addition, Chicago Commons’ centers consistently outperform the local and national averages for teaching quality.
In recognition of their strong track record and demonstrated impact on both their community and constituency, Chicago Commons received a $23 million, five-year Federal Head Start Grant in July of 2021 and serves as a leader in early education for the city.
Chicago Commons’ Need for a One-Stop-Shop Online Platform
Enrolling high-need families in high-quality early learning programs is incredibly challenging. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic only made the task more difficult. Some parents could no longer come directly to the centers to provide documentation or inquire about a safe and healthy location. As a result, Chicago Commons approached Provisio to partner in building a comprehensive platform that would be easily accessible and intuitive for all parents to enroll their children.
Gaining a Centralized Database & Enrollment Portal
In December of 2019, Chicago Commons contacted Provisio Partners to build a solution to meet their need for a centralized application, reporting platform, and intake portal. To fill their enrollment needs, Chicago Commons would gain an enrollment system for their Early Childhood and Head Start programs through Earlybird, a custom application built on Salesforce, powered by Experience Cloud, and customized to fit their unique needs.
Chicago Commons implemented Earlybird Parent Portal to serve as a secure portal for parents to apply and submit documentation to Chicago Commons for Early Childhood Programs. With their Parent Portal, Chicago Commons staff could effectively enroll and communicate with families virtually. Data Security was also an essential aspect of the implementation, as data permission settings needed to be in place for their organization in compliance with HIPAA standards. Portal profiles were created to secure their data visibility, and profiles were then delegated to the appropriate team members.
Through the Parent Portal, Chicago Commons families can:
- Complete and sign applications with e-signature functionality
- Complete and sign Intake Forms
- Upload enrollment certification documentation, such as pay stubs and address verification
- Provide Income Information with the simple upload of a picture
- Update contact information and emergency contact phone numbers
Custom Components for a 360 Degree View of Constituent Families & Young Learners
Their second phase of the project included implementing a comprehensive solution to manage their entire backend operations across departments. The Provisio team worked with Chicago Commons to build out varying assessments to better understand children’s progress while tracking medical and dental examinations, well-child visits, and more. In addition, attendance and inventory tracking were crucial elements that were previously unable to be monitored within their legacy system. With Earlybird’s built-in functionality, teaching staff can track attendance for children in a class, plus meals, snacks, and related allergies and classroom inventory.
Due to the complexity of their programmatic needs and diverse offerings, Provisio Partners implemented customized features to allow for the drafting of medical exams, community events tracking, and drafting of referrals. Additionally, they needed a way to track their families as one household without having disparate reports; cohesive case and service plans were created to view families in multiple programs as one household.
With Earlybird, Chicago Commons can:
- Distribute forms for signature and track responses
- Track referrals to community partners and internal resources
- Holistically work with a household by connecting all children, parents, and relatives
- Manage applications across all the Head Start Providers’ locations
- Collect all household income details and accurately calculate the family FPL
- Attribute funding source(s) to each child in the program
- Align children and teachers in a classroom to generate a class roster
Major Wins With a Customized Platform Built Specifically for Early Childhood
Chicago Commons went live in February 2020. Their entire enrollment and application process has transformed digitally with their Parent Portal built on Salesforce Experience Cloud. Parents no longer run into the obstacle of taking off work to take enrollment documentation to an early learning center. In addition, Chicago Commons now houses all their enrollment information in one location and retains it to report on their program’s impact on their children longitudinally. As a result, they can ensure all their early learning openings are full, supporting as many children as possible.
“Moving forward, we are excited at the opportunity to see increased efficiencies in collecting and reporting out data. The ability to create filters on reports where all data is centralized is game changing as we will no longer have to collect data from several different data bases. All the data we need will be at our fingertips on one platform.”
Beth Lakier, Chief Operating Officer at Chicago Commons
Madison lives in Denver, CO. Before her content creation career, Madison received her Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Marketing from Marquette University. Working at Provisio Partners, her responsibilities include strategic planning, coordination, and execution of campaigns. Assist in content creation, social management, email marketing, and event planning.