The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education understands that the early years lay a foundation for all life-long learning and growth. To truly impact children in this critical developmental period, a focus on providing quality services from ages zero to five must be a priority. We have developed a strong collaborative partnership with the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) to support children ages birth through 5 in a variety of child care settings. The creation of this new office will support that collaboration with specialized staff to provide technical assistance to licensed child care programs including family child care. Moving in partnership with DHR, this new initiative allows the Department to effectively reach more children and utilize federal grant dollars awarded to DHR more efficiently within the state.
This partnership will enable the Department to better develop, implement, and expand upon best practices in social-emotional learning and reflective teaching among the state’s child care providers, specifically focused on quality early learning and care for infants and toddlers. The purpose of this new office is to provide technical assistance and specialized staff who will offer support statewide to providers.
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE SUPPORT FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES
This office provides technical support in three main areas: Early Head Start Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) grant, challenging behavior project, and family engagement. This office will provide quality coaching to 300 child care sites over a three-year period. The focus of the collaboration with DHR is not to only offer technical assistance for their successful implementation of the EHS-CCP grant but to also offer high quality technical assistance to licensed childcares and family child cares statewide to reach more children before school age. This commitment to quality on behalf of the Department has led to the created of the Office of Early Childhood Development and Professional Support.
This technical assistance will be expanded to include support of classrooms to develop strategies for challenging behaviors and to increase family engagement implementation within centers. This collaboration also includes building an infant and toddler tract in DECE’s Early Childhood Education Conference in January 2019.
EHS-CCP Child Care Quality Coaching
DECE supports DHR in the implementation of the federally funded EHS-CCP grant by providing coaches which meet the standards set forth by the Administration of Children and Families through the updated Head Start Performance standards. Technical assistance is provided in the areas of curriculum support of the assessment system Teaching Strategies Gold. Last year, the Department provided technical assistance to 10% of the classrooms included in the EHS-CCP grant, and beginning in fall 2018 DECE will provide technical assistance to 100% of the classrooms included in the EHS-CCP grant.
Challenging Behavior Project
This new technical assistance will be offered to classrooms statewide through an application process to receive strategies to prevent and intervene with challenging behaviors when they arise. Challenging behaviors has become a statewide and nationwide concern not only for childcares but for schools. The goal is to provide strategies early as a means of intervention and prevention to see long term impact for children. This project will award stipend money expanded to include support of classrooms to develop strategies for challenging behaviors.
Family Engagement Project
This new technical assistance will be offered to programs statewide through an application process to receive individualized family engagement plans designed to meet the needs of a unique community. There is no “one size fits all” model that is effective for all programs. Creating individual plans for programs will increase parent engagement, Parent engagement is a fundamental part of the QRIS system created by DHR as a means to measure quality within childcare. By working with programs on this to fundamental area, the goal is to also see an increase in the QRIS rating scales. This project will award stipend money expanded to include support of classrooms to develop their individualized family engagement plans
High Quality Professional Development
The Department and DHR have worked collaboratively to provide high quality professional development to their state staff and to teachers and directors in the field. The Department has provided trainings for DHR conferences for child care teachers and parents in the EHS-CCP program. This collaboration will be expanded to not only include DHR sponsored conferences but also includes building an infant and toddler tract in the inaugural Alabama Early Childhood Education Conference in January 2019. DHR is also offering scholarships for childcare teachers to attend the Alabama Early Childhood Conference. By providing high quality professional development from national and regional speakers, childcare teachers will have access to information to make improvements to their practice.