While it seemed a perfect match, the pairing of the Collaboration for Early Childhood and Parenthesis on a critical shared undertaking has come undone. It is a regrettable situation but likely not a repairable one.

Some two years ago, the Collaboration convinced multiple local taxing bodies — the village of Oak Park and the district 97 and 200 school boards — to fund a multi-year effort to find, talk with and connect Oak Park families with at risk and very young children to an array of social services. It is a bold innovation that requires a vast number of hard and soft skills. 

The Collaboration sought partners to fill those skill sets. One was Parenthesis, the local and respected nonprofit that has worked for decades with challenged young families.

Both parties will acknowledge that the tasks were complex and the need to ramp up quickly was pronounced. With days and months passing, the Collaboration’s leadership decided that Parenthesis is not the answer it needs while Parenthesis points to a new executive director with strong financial and data management skills.

Though we regret this split, we admire the Collaboration for making this tough choice, for realizing that its ability to renew its taxpayer funding will depend on measurable results and not on hopes for gradual improvement from a vendor. 

This is an unhappy situation involving good people. But keeping its eyes on the essential goal of helping families using the taxpayer’s limited dime is the right approach.

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