FAQs for Family Engagement and Challenging Behaviors (ASSIST)

What level of family engagement can parents expect from early care and education centers after they work with the ASSIST and Family Engagement team?

The level of family engagement will depend on the program and its level of commitment to the project. Each program will walk through 7 measures of family engagement. These measures cover a wide spectrum of family engagement components. Programs will be evaluated to determine if they meet, excel, or exceed in each of the criteria. A program that meets the measures will look very different from a program which exceeds. The guidelines link parents to resources but also give them the opportunity to impact decisions made at the early care and education centers.  The stipend awarded will be based on performance.

What are some ways that the early care and education center will engage parents?

The goal is to build a systematic plan for family engagement. The focus will be on shifting from parents being consumers to parents as partners. For some centers this will be a hard transition. The Family Engagement coach will walk the director through the process of building this system. The plans will look different in each center. The intention is to create a project that would work in many different situations. For example, parents could be given surveys and those surveys would be used to make programmatic decisions. Parents would also receive specific information regarding the program, resources in the area, and health and wellness information.

What is the Devereux's system (curriculum) you are using? What will parents learn? What will the students learn? 

The Devereux system is a strength-based approach that emphasizes resilience in adults and children. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from negative experiences. It consists of three protective factors: self-regulation, initiative, and attachment/relationships. This is true for adults as well as children. Adults must be resilient to support resiliency in children. In other words, you can’t pour from an empty bucket. Parents will learn how to support the protective factors in their children and learn to build their own resilience. Children will learn the protective factors through activities and games. For example, playing the game ‘Simon Says’ teaches impulse control or self-regulation. Many children don’t play this game any longer, but playing it builds one of the protective factors. Technology and busy schedules move families away from traditional games and activities that often taught good skills - without us even realizing it! Today, many children miss some of those experiences.

Is the Family Engagement and Challenging Behavior (ASSIST) projects available to all early care and education centers that apply?

Unfortunately, no. Funding streams play a part here, so a program that receives Head Start or Early Head Start funding could not participate in either project. Programs with First Class Pre-K Classrooms can only participate in the Family Engagement project if they are not housed in a public school. Programs that are STAR-rated, or in the process of becoming STAR rated, may not participate in Family Engagement project but may participate in Challenging Behaviors (ASSIST).

How are early care and education centers selected if they apply from the same area?

This is the first year of the initiatives. Spaces will be limited, and selection will be tough. However, we encourage programs to apply and reapply. The hope is that these projects will grow next year, and more spaces will be available. Programs will be chosen based on the information provided in their application. All programs will be notified if accepted or denied. Denial letters will state the reason and next steps.

How will you determine which early care and education center has the greatest need for services?

Location to services will be important and we want to spread these centers out as much as possible. Again, programs can apply each cycle.

After your 6 months of working with early care and education centers, will centers continue to have support from DECE/DHR or are they cut off from support?

The hope is that we will have a newsletter and professional development options. Also, the coach will always be an email away if questions arise. We do not want to say “cut-off” because our goal is to build systems and relationships.

Are stipends available for the Challenging Behavior project, if so how much?

Each project has a stipend ranging from $50-$500.

Can early care and education centers and family providers participate in both projects at the same time?

Programs cannot participate simultaneously in both projects. However, a program can participate in the Family Engagement project in one cycle, and then apply for the Challenging Behavior (ASSIST) for 0-3 years for a different cycle. Family home centers are not currently eligible to participate in The Family Engagement Project.

How will you evaluate if the projects are working? Will there be a Pre and Post Test after 6 months? 

Both projects will be assessed, qualitatively and quantitatively. Directors will be informed of all assessments.

What is DHR’s involvement in the projects?

The Department of Human Resources (DHR) houses the Child Development Block Grant, and with this, the responsibility to provide high quality services to early care and education programs statewide. DHR is funding these projects through the CCDF (Child Care and Development Fund) Block Grant. DECE is collaborating through workforce additions and professional development opportunities to support the scope of the grant.

If you have any questions, please contact Jo Lee-Lindstrom, Administrative Assistant at jo.leelindstrom@ece.alabama.gov  334-322-4467