When Michelle Simon reopened Clubhouse Academy, a child care center in Johnstown, CO, she knew that communication with parents and caregivers in her community would be important. She wants her center to “be noticed as an integral part of the community,” and that requires consistent, professional engagement with families. Thanks to a communications mini grant from Early Childhood Leadership Commission (ECLC) to support early childhood organizations in increasing the quality of their communications efforts, she was able to make progress on that goal.
Engaging Parents and Caregivers
One component of quality communication that Simon wanted to focus on was professionalism. She knew that communicating with parents and caregivers in a variety of formats is important, and she wanted to ensure that all of her materials look professional, both for families she is currently serving and also for families that may be interested in her services.
Mini grant funds helped Simon produce both printed and digital materials. She prints hard copies of parent fliers, handbooks, and newsletters, and having high-quality toner is important for making those printed materials appeal to parents. Mini grant funds also helped pay for the costs of her website. The mix of printed and digital materials is important because some parents and caregivers may prefer to look at information on a mobile device, such as a phone or tablet, while others may not feel comfortable accessing information digitally.
By creating a variety of ways for parents and caregivers to engage with information, Simon is illustrating an important component of one of the recommended strategies from the Early Childhood Communications Efforts in Colorado report: engagement. When parents and caregivers have the opportunity to participate in two-way, responsive communication, their engagement “generate[s] more positive outcomes for children’s cognitive and social development.”
Strengthening the Early Childhood Workforce
Simon knows that early childhood care can be a challenging field. She finds that working for an organization with professional communication materials can help create a sense of pride for her employees, but she also wanted to make sure her employees have everything they need to be successful.
She used part of her grant funds to incentivize her staff to complete e-learning courses about topics like child development and quality instruction that are offered through the Colorado Shines Professional Development Information System better known and PDIS. This additional professional development improves the quality of care that her center provides, and it can also lead to a sense of fulfillment for her employees, which is crucial for strengthening the early childhood workforce.