To Our Staff, Partners, Supporters, and the Communities We Serve:
After much discussion and consideration, Pillars Community Health has made the decision to end Early Childhood Education services when our Head Start grant ends on June 30, 2020. This has been a very difficult decision that has weighed deeply on the hearts and minds of all involved, particularly because of the impact this will have on our dedicated staff and the families we serve. It is important to note the current school year will continue (and finish on June 30, 2020) with no changes.
This decision was made by the Board of Directors with the advice of executive leadership. Two factors have led to this recent Board decision. First is our need to focus growth on our core mission of integrated health and social services. Now more than ever, the challenges of providing integrated health and social services in Illinois are increasingly more complex, and demanding of time and resources, as the state redesigns service delivery and payment models. Second, since our five-year grant was ending, and there would be a Head Start grant re-competition process for our funding and service area, the Board believed this was a strategic and appropriate time to evaluate continuation of services, and in particular our Early Childhood Education service offerings. The Office of Head Start Notice of Funding Opportunity guidance indicated that applicants should include plans to expand Early Head Start slots and services as well as convert half-day Head Start classrooms to full-day. In light of this guidance, we examined if growth in this specific area would align with Pillars Community Health’s core strategic priorities and whether these services would be a better fit for another organization more centrally focused on provision of early childhood education.
Pillars Community Health will continue to focus on the growth of integrated physical, behavioral, and oral health care, and social services (including Domestic and Sexual Violence Services) to best meet community needs.
We do not know the new grant decisions that will be made by the Office of Head Start, nor do we know the future design of the Head Start and Early Head Start program in our service area. Unfortunately, for the families affected, we do not have all the answers right now. We share the commitment of the Office of Head Start to do what we can to ensure a successful transition when the new grantee is announced. As new information becomes available, we will share it as soon as practical. We will also continue to provide children and families with our health and social services and continue to offer those services to Children’s Center of Berwyn-Cicero, which has been our Head Start delegate agency for the past five years. In addition, we will work with a new grantee to offer leasing of our early childhood facility in Hickory Hills and offer support to their families and children through our health and social services.
Not only is this a change for the families we serve, but the unknown is also hard on our staff. Approximately 40 Early Childhood education staff positions will end on June 30, 2020. We are grateful for our dedicated staff. It is our plan to offer incentive compensation and outplacement services to those who remain with us through the end of the grant.
After more than 50 years of providing Head Start and Early Head Start services, Pillars Community Health recognizes this is a strategic focus shift in the organization’s service offerings. A healthy nonprofit organization regularly evaluates its offerings and acknowledges when it is time to launch or refocus services; this helps ensure that the people who need it the most can access the best possible services from the best possible provider. Throughout our nearly 100 year history, Pillars Community Health and its predecessor organizations have made similar decisions to align services in ways that would build healthier communities, align with best practices, and make decisions that would sustain and strengthen the organization and its mission into the future.
Pillars Community Health is financially strong and committed to the continued growth and enhancement of integrated physical, behavioral, and oral health care services and related social services. We continuously strive to be strong stewards of both the resources and trust that our communities, partners, funders, and donors invest in us.
Rachel Shaw Callahan Angela Curran
Board Chair President and CEO