The Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County (ECPAC) is striving to change the early childhood ecosystem for the better in all of its work–including in its communication. With support from an Early Childhood Leadership Commission (ECLC) communications mini-grant to support early childhood organizations interested in increasing the quality of their communications efforts, Lisa Jansen Thompson, executive director of ECPAC, needed to address the challenges of finding people who are interested in working in early care and education and supporting families unaware of the importance of quality care.
Blending and braiding funding along with ECLC support, ECPAC set out to co-design and test messaging that led to the following final messages for the Adams County community:
Messaging to Grow the Early Childhood Workforce
Messaging to Support Family Decision-Making Choosing High-Quality Care and Considering Preschool
Engaging Families from the Start
The Early Childhood Communications Efforts in Colorado report, which was endorsed by the ECLC, highlights the importance of working with parents and caregivers to create quality, engaging messages. ECPAC engaged parents and caregivers in every step of the message creation process, which helps organizations create messages that are culturally relevant, accessible and compelling.
Thompson provided a variety of ways for parents and caregivers to respond to and offer feedback on draft messages. She worked with parents and caregivers on an advisory council to draft the original messages, offered parents and caregivers the opportunity to complete a survey or participate in a focus group, and also analyzed data from sharing the messages and images on social media platforms like Facebook. For example, through this process ECPAC learned that 62% of families in Adams County were not aware of the quality rating of their child’s preschool or childcare program.
In order to ensure that ECPAC received feedback from families that are representative of the families they serve in Adams County, Thompson asked participants to complete a brief demographic survey in order to receive the gift card incentive that was funded by the mini grant funds. Thompson also worked with the Community Language Cooperative to translate messages and provide Spanish-speaking parents and caregivers the opportunity to provide feedback.
As Thompson shared, “families were clear they want messages that are simple and to the point.” With her advisory council of parents and caregivers, she initially drafted five separate messages that were complex. In the end, and after rounds of additional feedback from other parents, she simplified the messages so that the messages captured the attention of parents and caregivers and encouraged them to learn more.