The Willowobrook Corner Early Childhood Collaborative

By Larry Asteff

or a family living in poverty in DuPage County, taking a new baby home from the hospital is both joyous and fraught with unbelievable challenges. As just one example of the perils ahead, consider car-seats. The hospital may provide a family with an infant car-seat if they cannot afford one themselves; but generally, a baby outgrows that gift before its first birthday.—Then what? How does a family choose between keeping their baby safe in transit (and not breaking the law), or providing food, medicine or housing? When families are stressing over such grave decisions, the importance of early childhood development can often become a backburner issue, even when it should be among the first priorities for a young child.

In the case of one family in Willowbrook Corner, an under-resourced area located in the southeastern corner of DuPage County, that second car-seat was provided through the Willowbrook Corner Early Childhood Collaborative (WCECC). The WCECC is making a big impact in the region thanks in a large part to funding from the Snodgrass Family Fund at the DuPage Foundation through the foundation’s Bright & Early DuPage initiative. “Bright & Early DuPage is incredibly important for our families, so they have access to birth to five support systems,” said Dr. Tom Schneider, superintendent of School District 180. “It fills a need for our families to find additional resources as they start on the journey of being parents.

“It fills a need for our families to find additional resources as they start on the journey of being parents.”

We’re thrilled to be able to work as partners with Bright & Early DuPage, and we are incredibly appreciative of DuPage Foundation for the program.” As a result, the lives of children in the region, who funnel into Hinsdale South High School, are positively impacted. Marianne Pokorny, director of civic engagement for the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, oversees the leadership for Bright & Early DuPage. “Grants from the Snodgrass Family Fund of DuPage Foundation through Bright & Early DuPage have provided critical funding for so many initiatives and actions,” Pokorny said. “We
would not have had the meetings, the network that was needed to get things done, without it. It was a springboard to improve the hierarchy of family needs, from jobs, to food, to transportation, to
ultimately childcare and early childhood education, that was needed.”
For more information on the collaborative initiative, visit: