Engaging parents and creating feedback loops to ensure ongoing communication between state and local policy makers, practitioners, community leaders, and families can help systems leaders make shifts to increase opportunities for young children and families in communities with significant racial, ethnic, economic, heath, and education disparities. This blog outlines Perigee’s 10 recommendations to support leaders in initiating these shifts.
As the pandemic forced a switch from in-person to remote services, the Perigee Foundation commissioned research to hear directly from families and caregivers about their experiences participating in early childhood programs. The BUILD Initiative commends this endeavor. The resulting report, How Technology Changed What’s Possible in Home-Visiting and Infant Mental Health Programs, is an excellent example of the importance of listening to families, particularly those in marginalized communities, who are meant to benefit from programs and services. The mixed-methods research that undergirds the report’s recommendations, that includes listening to and being guided by family and provider voice, demonstrates critical research practices and reflects our shared values.
To help children reach their full potential, early childhood leaders must focus on the adults in children’s lives. BUILD helps states maximize opportunities and dismantle barriers to the optimal development of young children by engaging families and communities in the work in an authentic way that recognizes that those who are the intended users of the policies, programs, and services are the best sources of information on needs and the best judges of effectiveness. By listening to the voices of families and providers, we can learn about the reality of those using the system. That understanding can fuel reform efforts and measure effectiveness.
Through our network of state, community, and national partners, we have listened to many voices describing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families. One theme that has emerged, and is consistent with the Perigee Foundation’s report, is that providers have worked to be more flexible and innovative with their provision of services during this time. The report highlights providers who listened to parent (and extended family) needs and responded with creative solutions for keeping families engaged. These providers have been flexible with program standards regarding visitation and location, have expanded their focus on parents’ mental health, and have improved infant mental health services by including parents along with their children in their remote consultations.
Engaging parents and creating feedback loops to ensure ongoing communication between state and local policy makers, practitioners, community leaders, and families can help systems leaders make shifts to increase opportunities for young children and families in communities with significant racial, ethnic, economic, heath, and education disparities. Perigee’s 10 recommendations, summarized below, can support leaders in initiating these shifts.
- Programs must actively listen to the voices of parents and be open to small or big shifts in practices to reflect those needs.
- Increase adult mental health services through telehealth.
- Expand availability of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) to infant and toddler programs.
- Add flexibility into the evidence-based models that are already proven to work.
- Embrace hybrid approaches.
- Trusted programs must consider how to expand support to meet basic needs without compromising the time and energy going towards core services.
- Invest in planning and advance preparation.
- Explore leaning into a parent-coach model of support.
- Continue to expand organizational support for staff.
- Consider continuing remote support groups.
Focusing on how to improve early childhood services by incorporating technology, using solutions that are grounded in family voice, will help ensure that parents, caregivers, and young children receive the care they need to thrive. Heeding the report’s recommendations not only will allow providers to establish and maintain the relationships with families through which their work is done but will get us closer to a time when race, place, and income are no longer predictors of early childhood outcomes.
Report February 20, 2024
Raise Up Oregon: A Statewide Early Childhood System Plan 2024-2028 is grounded in equity, the science of child development, and a firm understanding that it takes leaders from early care and education, health, higher education and workforce development, housing, human services, and public education—along with families, communities, and the public and private sectors—to work together during this critical period of children’s lives. Raise Up Oregon: A Statewide Early Childhood System Plan 2024-2028 outlines meaningful actions to better serve the 43,000 children born each year in Oregon and their families.
Archived Webinar January 24, 2024
These resources are from the January 19 webinar, We Can't Do It Alone: Partnering with Local Government to Advance Statewide PN-3 Efforts.
Report January 24, 2024
This resource highlights key strategies to help state and local leaders identify common challenges and actionable strategies to strengthen alignments between state, county and city governments and coordinate prenatal through age three agendas in their communities.