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Project: LAUNCH Together

Organization: Early Milestones Colorado

Location of Messaging: Statewide

LAUNCH Together video: developed to communicate the importance of early childhood mental health and how coordinated, community-based, family-centered prevention strategies (integration of behavioral health into primary care, early childhood mental health consultation in early care and ed programs, enhanced home visitation, screening and assessment, and family strengthening) can improve child and family outcomes.

Project: Kids First

Organization: City of Aspen — Kids First

Location of messaging: Pitkin County

We have used social media and PSA’s to draw attention to this issue. We have also created a page on our website titled “Kids Thrive” and have asked other local service agencies to link to this page. This page continues the message, but also has information about local health and mental health resources and services – http://www.aspenpitkin.com/Departments/Kids-First/Kids-Thrive/. We will use some print and digital advertising to support this message.

 

Collateral Materials (click each to access): 

Focus on What Matters Most

A Strong Foundation Begins Early

A Strong Foundation Begins Early 2

Help Kids Grow Positively

Help Kids Grow Positively 2

We Thrive When Our Kids Thrive

We Thrive When Our Kids Thrive 2

Data and Evaluation: Sifting Through the Static and the Sound (ECCP Mini-Grant Highlight, Part 1 of 2)

by Tim Walter, Arapahoe County Early Childhood Council

Big Data, Data Analytics, Data Driven Analysis – do these “buzz-words” sound familiar?  We have entered the age of “Data” (…and whatever else you’d like to attach to the beginning or end of the word…), and there is no going back.  Data can be overwhelming – hard to determine what is important and what is just plain confusing.  Data is not all bad, in fact it can be what helps drive and guide program design, implementation, and evaluation efforts.

Program Evaluation for non-profit agencies and organizations is possibly more important now than ever before.  Every year non-profit agencies and organizations prepare to write and apply for new and old grants alike; however, what makes your non-profit work so special?  Can you show the good work your organization does (and whether it is producing effective results)?

You might be asking: Why is data and evaluation of my program important and what does it have to do with my work?

“Program Evaluation” and data analysis will continue to be the standard by which organizations are judged.  For many years, science-driven professions (Engineering, Accounting, Medicine) have been required to quantify and show accountability when presenting results.  Only more recently, the social sciences (Public Health and Social Work) have been asked to quantify and show accountability with the work they do.  It is now, more than ever, necessary for organizations to “Show Their Good Work” as grant funders want to see “accountability” when awarding dollars to organizations.

The ECCP Mini-Grant supporting the Arapahoe County Early Childhood Council kicked off an inter-agency re-assessment of how we tracked our program outcomes in past years, and we began to ask,  what “truly matters” for tracking, as we move into 2017-2018 and beyond.  Along the way, we have developed Logic Model templates (modeled after Results Based Accountability theory) to identify program outcome goals and database design needs.  Our ultimate goal is to create a data tracking system capable of producing images and visual reports that will show our good work.  There will be a variety of other uses for this information, but the process of designing a robust evaluation methodology was far more manageable than previously thought.

Program Evaluation may seem daunting – but my hope is to provide a few more opportunities (and tips) that will provide others easy to use ideas/templates, design tips, and an ability to bring to life the good work being done.

Read more in part 2 of this blog post, coming later this month!

Project: Earlier Is Easier

Organization: Earlier is Easier

Location of Messaging: Denver-Metro Area

 

Earlier Is Easier is a collaborative of 28 Denver-area organizations working collectively to promote the value of interacting with children from birth to age three. Our messaging encourages simple activities related to talking, reading, singing, playing, laughing and writing that parents and caregivers can do each day to foster healthy brain development while also building strong emotional bonds.

We have two websites, that were just redesigned: www.EarlierIsEasier.org and www.Espanol-EIE.org. Both sites include age-based tips and activities, information about the science of building healthy brains, local community resources and more. We also have printed “tip cards” that are distributed on child-friendly plastic rings via our partner organizations, community programs and at a variety of events.

EIE’s websites and tip cards underwent content and language revisions in 2016 to incorporate messaging from the shared message bank. We connected our existing learning messaging in many places to activities and concepts that also foster social emotional health and building positive relationships. Some examples include: promoting serve and return communication; strengthening relationships through shared play and laughter, and encouraging activities that involve meaningful interactions between parent/caregiver and child.

 

Early Childhood Partners Develop Shared Data Agenda to Collectively Move Needle for Children and Families

The Data Agenda was launched at the ECCP full partner meeting in January.

Data-driven decision making is a key element to ensuring collaborative efforts can be accountable to reaching shared results. The Early Childhood Colorado Partnership has worked since 2009 to continually use population-level data to inform efforts and move the needle to achieve results for children and families in Colorado. The Data Action Team, made up of partners from multiple organizations and agencies, discusses and collects data annually using a Results Based Accountability (RBA) approach, and spent the better part of 2016 updating the Data Agenda to reflect the Early Childhood Colorado Framework, updated in 2015.

The Data Agenda includes “systems” indicators at the performance level to better understand collective impact upon outcomes. Systems Performance Indicators provide shared accountability for and reflection of how the early childhood system is performing,rather than reflect whole populations (i.e. children and families in Colorado). A Data Advocacy Agenda is in development so partners can continuously work together to advocate for improved data collection.

As state and local partners identify ways to align efforts to move the needle for children and families, the Data Agenda provides an opportunity for shared accountability. The Data Action Team will work throughout 2017 to capture baseline data and share the story behind the data broadly.

Want to join this work? Email earlychildhood@civiccanopy.org to learn more.

Project: Pregnancy-Related Depression & Anxiety Public Awareness Campaign

Organization: Colorado Department of Public CDPHEHealth and Envrionment (CDPHE)

Location of Messaging: Statewide

800X800 MOMSThe building blocks of a healthy pregnancy and birth consist of emotional and mental health as well as physical health care. The benefits of maternal wellness during and after pregnancy include a high quality of life and maternal functioning for mothers, babies being born on time and with healthy weights, strong mother-baby attachment; and healthy, happy and productive families. Good mental health in pregnant women and new mothers also promotes young children’s development, healthy social relationships, and success in school and life!

Pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are the most common complications of pregnancy, affecting about one in seven women nationally. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched a digital public awareness campaign in October 2016, in partnership with Postpartum Support International, to help women recognize the symptoms and get help.

To learn more about the campaign, check out this webinar featuring key campaign concepts and creative content, as well as resources and best practices to implement the campaign in local communities. Colorado-specific resources for new and expectant mothers are available in the community partner toolkit. Women affected by pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are being encouraged to contact Postpartum Support International Colorado coordinators for free help in both English and Spanish at 1-800-944-4773.

The campaign is being piloted in five communities (Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas, Denver and Larimer counties) and efforts to be expanded in 2017.

Collateral Materials: 

CDPHE Pregnancy-Related Depression and Anxiety Public Awareness Campaign

Colorado Campaign via Postpartum Support International 

Press Release 

Community partner toolkit

Campaign contacts:
•       General campaign information: Phuonglan.Nguyen@state.co.us, 303-691-7810.
•       Press and media inquiries: Dave.Brendsel@state.co.us, 303-692-2156.
•       Merritt + Grace: hello@merrittandgrace.com, 720-278-9860 (Allison Hastey) or 303-435-1139 (Frances Tourtelot).

Implicit Bias in Early Childhood Education: An ECCP Mini-Grant Spotlight

Pedroby Pedro Mendez, Clayton Early Learning

Two main issues that have been mainstreaming the media are race and culture; interestingly, these issues have been impacting young children for quite some time now. Even to the point that some stakeholders believe nothing is being done to resolve such critical issues.

The topics of race, culture, and bias are sensitive issues people feel unease discussing, and rightfully so. People do not want to be labeled or identified as being prejudice for something they might not be consciously aware. For educators who are charged with the growth and learning of young children this may be a fine line. Especially when dealing with something like implicit bias. Implicit biases are attitudes that function outside our conscious mind and that challenge even the most veteran of teachers. Whether we want to acknowledge or our bias or not, conscious or unconscious, it has an impact in the education children receive. It is our responsibility to better understand these attitudes so that we are better able to prepare teachers to empower all children.

The Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program (BECLP) was a gateway for my personal work around this topic. This work initially began as an investigation of achievement gaps of boys of color as part of my yearlong capstone work for BECLP. My work led me to have discussions with several stakeholders across Denver County.

The next step was to look at common themes that emerge from all my conversations. One of these themes was, bias, and the impact it had on children. This lead to a collaboration with the Early Childhood Colorado Partnership through a mini grant. This collaboration allowed us to explore implicit bias within our teaching staff and the impact it can have on children’s academic career. The Partnership was very involved through the process of our research and gave us the platform to collaborate with other organizations. It was a very enriching experience to learn and hear what other organizations were being challenged with as well as overcoming in their work. The Partnership allowed us to start collegial conversations on our campus and provided a first step in improving our cultural competency, and reflect about our inner self to better to serve families. My hope is that this work inspires others to look within and explore their inner self to better understand bias and the effect it has on program, practice implementation and the impact for children.

Read the full mini-grant report from Clayton Early Learning.

 

Project: Social Emotional Messaging Materials Available for Statewide Partners

Organization: Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County

ecpacLocation of messaging: Adams County & Statewide

Through funding from Project LAUNCH, the Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County (ECPAC) worked with key stakeholders, including the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) – Office of Early Childhood, to develop materials to promote social emotional development based on messages in the Shared Message Bank, the Early Learning Developmental Guidelines, and Zero-to-Three.  The intent of these materials is to raise awareness about the importance of social emotional development, provide concrete examples of how caregivers (parents, families, service providers) can support children’s social emotional development, and connect caregivers to key community resources through a “call to action.”  Service providers are trained on delivering the materials as “trusted messengers” to start conversations and not use the materials as a stand alone message.

Because community resources vary, customizable materials are now available through CDHS for each community to individualize.  Early Childhood Councils or other conveners can be responsible for working with their partners to identify their unique “call to action.”

The full toolkit of materials include:

  • Fact Sheet for Early Childhood Professionals about the importance of and understanding of early childhood mental health and social emotional development
  • Parent/Family Materials broken down by age group (0-9 mos; 10-18 mos; 19 mos-3; 3-5; 6-8) in English and Spanish
  • Social Emotional Social Media Content
  • Protective Factors Social Media Content (I think these need some work)
  • 5 Videos on how to best promote Social-Emotional Development for service providers.

Examples can be found below.  For more information contact ECPAC or your local Early Childhood Council.

ECPAC Messaging Tips for Providers

ECPAC Provider Resource

ECPAC Parent Resource

ECPAC General Resource

ECPAC General Resource

Customizable Parent Resource

 

Moving Forward Together to Build a Strong Early Childhood Workforce

by Tami Havener, Executive Director of Family Development Center in Routt County

tami-portraitOur state’s focus on the Early Childhood Workforce and the I2I project is very exciting. From my perspective as a Director of a medium size early learning program for more than 30 years, this initiative has such promise.

I have experienced over time, increasing state regulations for both teacher qualifications and job expectations. As a nationally accredited (NAEYC) center since 1990, we have always had higher expectations for teachers. While meeting or exceeding accreditation standards has always been a choice, recently, regulatory requirements have made recruitment and retention more difficult.

preschool-cookingBeing able to find the person who is the right fit for an organization has always been tricky. Add onto that, finding someone who has all of the educational or training requirements met before they can begin in a classroom with children has exponentially increased the dilemma. This is exacerbated by working in a community where training is not readily available.

Once the right person is recruited, retaining becomes an issue especially when compensation parity with public school teachers is still an unattainable goal. I feel blessed to have some of my best teachers for 10-20 years. Still, we consistently lose good teachers to the public school system, or to less demanding jobs.
As an agency with just under 20 staff, we are constantly working to increase compensation and benefits. And while donations and grants help, these are most often not sustainable. So when we added health insurance and a retirement plan as a benefit for our staff, we had to pass that cost on to families as a tuition increase. We all know that Colorado is one of the most expensive states for child care. It is always a balancing act of compensating teachers fairly and honoring a family’s ability to pay for early childhood care and education.

snowy-winter-003It is said “when we know better, we do better.” Well, we know how critically important these early years are.  Yet we still depend upon families’ ability to pay, and teachers’ foregone wages to primarily fund our early childhood system. There needs to be other strong contributors at the table, in order for all of us to “do better” by our youngest. And we need to honor family choice with a mixed delivery system to meet various family needs.

Our state’s Workforce project efforts have a huge task in solving or even making a significant dent in this issue.  I am hopeful that we can move forward together.

Supporting a Strong Early Childhood Workforce in Colorado

by Kristina Mueller, Early Childhood Leadership Commission Director

kmuellereccpblogWe know that when children are cared for in stable, quality environments with supportive, well-trained educators, they are better able to reach their full potential and be prepared to succeed throughout their life.

Colorado’s professional development system for early childhood educators has soared over the past several years thanks to the work of the Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Early Childhood and the Department of Education, along with all of our partners throughout Colorado.

However, many communities still lack an effective, consistent workforce in whom families can place their trust and with whom young children can thrive.

That’s why the state of Colorado is working together to develop and implement sustainable strategies to help recruit, retain, compensate, and support the early childhood professional workforce.

The Early Childhood Leadership Commission has prioritized “Elevating the Early Childhood Workforce” as one of its three main focus areas for the next several years.  Through the work of the EC Professional Development Advisory Working Group, we are using research, stakeholder input, and local and state expertise to create the State’s next generation EC Workforce and Professional Development Plan, which was originally created in 2010.

Taking this work further, Colorado is participating in the Incubation to Innovation (i2I) project with the National Academy of Medicine through an innovative and exciting public/private partnership including Early Milestones Colorado, the Colorado Department of Education, and the Colorado Department of Human Services, along with philanthropic partners Gary Community Investments and the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation. Over the next several years this group will develop sustainable and varied approaches to recruit, retain, compensate, and support a well-qualified workforce through research, planning, and pilots that will lead to the spread of practices and policies throughout the state.

More information on this work can be found on the website at http://coloradoecworkforce.org.

Once again, Colorado is leading the way by working to find sustainable, supportive methods to support our early childhood professionals and provide better environments for our children.  We look forward to working together to develop and implement this exciting work!

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