Our thoughts are with early care and education programs during this challenging time that our country faces. We deeply appreciate the vital role that early care and education programs serve in communities and have heard from many of you about the stress and anxiety this situation has created for families and staff.
New information is coming out daily from the federal government and states about how to proceed with closures and other measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. On ECLKC, there is a Coronavirus Prevention and Response page where you can find information about service delivery, wages, and flexibilities (including provision of meals and snacks) that can be applied to programs impacted by coronavirus. The Office of Head Start cites a 2019 General Disaster Recovery Flexibilities Information Memorandum as applicable to the current situation.
During times of uncertainty, it can be helpful to focus on what we can control. Consider turning anxiety into action by channeling energy into concrete areas and dedicating time to activities and tasks that it’s difficult to give your full attention to during regular program operations. As many programs face the possibility of long-term closures, below are five few ways you can refocus energy and attention.
- Policies and procedures. Review, update, and revise policies and procedures. Begin by making a list of the areas you know are in need of revision and also consider a deep dive into your policy manuals to identify which policies and procedures need to be brought up-to-date or improved.
- Quality Improvement Funding. With the anticipated release of funding for quality improvement activities, you can use this time to prepare for the upcoming application process. Consider exploring new strategies to support staff and families who are experiencing mental health challenges and trauma in light of the current health situation.
- Data management systems. Review data systems and opportunities for refinement.Pinpoint areas where you can make in-house improvements to your data systems and where you might need outside assistance to enhance data collection, alignment, and use.
- Self-assessment. Reflect on your current self-assessment process and explore strategies to strengthen its usefulness and alignment with program operations. Map out a workplan and timeline to enhance and implement your program’s self-assessment.
- Systems improvement and program design planning. Review your program’s management systems, capability, and potential. Consider areas that can be strengthened or maximized to ensure your program is most efficiently meeting the needs of children and families in your community. This might be concrete changes to systems – e.g., ERSEA – or this might be broader program re-design planning, in the context of DRS or other upcoming funding opportunities such as EHS-CCP.
Our team implements a remote-work model in our regular operations, and we would be glad to assist your program in these areas or any other area where you may need support right now. Foundations for Families’ customized tools, experience, and expertise are the core of our work, and services are customized to meet each program’s needs. Our consultants can help to guide your program though program quality improvements, whether it be updating policies and procedures, strengthening data management or other program systems, or preparing for program design improvements.