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Action Step and Orientation

L6. Partner with community organizations to coordinate resources that support child development.

In this lesson, you and your site/campus-based leadership team will explore how to develop community partnerships.

In Part 1, you will learn how to identify and recruit potential community partners.

In Part 2, you will learn how to identify needs and resources and how to set early literacy development goals with the community partners.

In Part 3, you will see an example of how to collaborate with a community partner to meet a need identified at your school.

To get started, download the Implementation Guide for this component and refer to the Action Step for this lesson. Review the Implementation Indicators for each level of implementation and note the Sample Evidence listed at the bottom of the chart.

Part 1—Recruiting Potential Community Partners to Meet Your Needs

As you learned in the previous lesson, effective leaders understand that young children need a community of invested stakeholders to help them learn and develop to their greatest potential. In addition to the high-quality care and instruction at your school, community partnerships can help meet the diverse needs of children and families. Your school can work together with key partners to ensure that children learn and develop to their highest potential. Effective leaders identify, recruit, and build relationships with community partners to support their vision for children’s success.

There are many community resources that can be helpful to you and your school in providing language, pre-literacy, and development services. As leaders, you will need to gather information and learn about resources and organizations that deliver a range of services in your community. These resources can make a huge difference in the array of services you are able to recommend to your children’s families.

To focus your research about resources and organizations, you can first investigate the needs that exist in your school. What needs—outside the scope of what you provide at your school—are you and your staff seeing or hearing about on a regular basis? As a team, you will need to find out what services would benefit the families and children you work with so you can look for community organizations that can provide those services.

To begin to build community partnerships, you might take the following steps:

  • Ask a team member to create a list of possible partners who could collaborate with you or provide needed services to your families and children.
  • Check the local phonebook, websites, and hospitals for contact information.
  • Research to find the contact person for each partner and then look up addresses and descriptions of services.
  • Ask your local library for assistance in locating resources.
  • Finalize your draft of possible partners.

After connections have been made and the selected community organizations have agreed to work with your school, plan for everyone to meet. You should include involved stakeholders in this meeting and focus on communicating your school’s vision and needs, along with concrete ways the partnership can help meet those needs. Together, consider the future steps and services needed to support your identified children, families, and staff. At the first meeting, introduce all invited guests, share pertinent information about your school, answer questions, seek a commitment from those present, and verify all contact information.

Part 2—Meeting and Building Community Partnerships

As you plan the first meeting, review the list of possible community partners identified in your draft. Many individuals, companies, and organizations have resources or provide services that support early language and pre-literacy acquisition or could help disperse information throughout your community. Some of these partners may also provide support and education to help parents achieve success as their children’s first teachers. Ideas for potential partners who might provide training, materials, or resources to support your data-informed plan for improving language and pre-literacy instruction include the following:

  • Local museums
  • Local zoo or botanical garden
  • Neighborhood stores
  • Public libraries
  • Community colleges and/or university branches
  • Hospitals, banks, and religious communities
  • Local media (such as public television and radio stations)
  • Local news (print and television)
  • Early childhood intervention providers
  • Adult or children’s tutoring organizations
  • Local healthcare facilities, dental offices, and/or WIC centers
  • Local pediatricians and diagnosticians
  • Local Head Start, Even Start, or Early Head Start programs
  • Local childcare programs in homes, religious communities, or other schools
  • The American Speech and Hearing Association
  • The American Red Cross

After you revise and update your list, you will be ready to invite those on the list to the meeting. At your first meeting with the community partners, plan an introductory activity. Ask guests to introduce themselves and talk for a few minutes about the resources and services they have available for the school and community. Ensure that you have assigned a note-taker at the meeting, someone to keep a detailed account of partners’ comments. After the partners have shared their information, someone on your team can discuss the general and specific needs that have already been identified at your school. Begin sharing your vision for this group. You may also begin defining roles and responsibilities and discuss possible dates, times, and locations for upcoming meetings. You may create a timeline and pass out a questionnaire to collect additional information about each partner.

Remember that each of these partners has specific expertise and resources that can help your school and families. Allow ample time to learn about the partners and how they can benefit your community.

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TO LEARN MORE:

This resource from the Children’s Learning Institute provides ideas and information about promoting sustainable community collaborations.

The Texas Workforce Commission can assist you in learning about possible training and support for your school.

Part 3—A Sample Collaboration with Community Partners

As you and your team investigate the resources in your community and the needs of your school, you will be able to work toward connecting your children and families to many key resources. Over time, the relationships that you build with community partners can grow and provide many more opportunities to support the development of the children you serve.

In the following scenario, an agency that provides care from birth through age four at multiple schools has discerned a need for parent training. The agency has been putting systems in place for a year to provide continuous support for their families as needs are identified. Currently, in several of the older toddler classrooms, biting has become a hot issue. Parents are expressing concern. The school directors have met and discussed their families’ needs to understand more about early language development. They want families to understand the relationship between language development and biting among young children. The directors have a relationship with the local pediatrician, and in the past, they have partnered with his office to provide resources, counseling, and information.

Scenario: The school directors at ABC Schools have decided to provide a parenting class to address the current concern about biting. They discuss the need to find a highly qualified professional to present the training to families. One manager volunteers to contact the local pediatrician’s office. This office has provided ideas and resources in the past.

The pediatrician’s receptionist suggests the name of a local social worker who has led parenting workshops. The school manager contacts the social worker and asks if she is available to provide information for the school’s families. The manager explains that biting is a big concern for many families and shares that the schools’ families need to know more about the developmental stages of their toddlers and young two-year-olds. The social worker agrees to lead a training session one month from now from 5:00–6:00 p.m., and a date is selected. The social worker is connected to the local hospital and is also able to secure a training room.

The school manager contacts the other directors and shares the good news. One manager creates an invitation with the details of the parent meeting and sends it to all of the directors so they can contact families far ahead of the training. In the invitation, the manager relays that childcare will be available during the training as long as parents request care no less than one week ahead of the training.

The invitation is sent out three weeks before the training, and families are asked to respond to the invitation by signing up for the training at their school’s reception desk. They are also asked to indicate their need for childcare. The response is very good, with about 30 families signing up. The school manager calls the social worker, and they coordinate details. The social worker says she will bring a handout about developmental stages and early language development.

The training day arrives, and the social worker reviews the developmental stages of social and emotional growth from birth through age three and distributes a helpful handout. She explains that biting often happens at this age because toddlers have a limited vocabulary and are easily frustrated. She explains that without words to express the frustration, biting becomes a common response to frustrating situations.

She helps parents understand that by modeling rich vocabulary and showing toddlers how to deal with frustrations, they will help their children through the biting stage without hurting friends. She then acts out a biting scenario so that parents can see how to work with their children when biting actually occurs.

The training is followed by a question-and-answer session. As families leave, they are given more handouts about biting and early vocabulary development.

Over time, keep reviewing your list of community partners and add new ones as they are identified. Maintain communication with partners between events. Review roles and responsibilities within your partnership and update them as the need arises. Brainstorm with your partners at meetings as you consider and develop the long-term systems that will support the language pre-literacy development needs in your community.

By taking the time to meet and plan together and learn more about one another, trusting relationships will form. Partners will become more comfortable sharing their ideas to support your vision and goals. Your thoughtfully built system will also make it possible for your school to help connect children and families to necessary services in a comprehensive and timely manner.

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NEXT STEPS: Depending on your progress on Action Step L6, you may want to consider some of the following next steps:

  • Identify needs of children and families you serve that fall outside of what your school currently provides.
  • With your team, brainstorm a list of community resources that may serve as potential partners with your school.
  • Contact potential community partners and set up meetings in which you can learn more about the needs they serve and how they might align with your school’s goals.
  • Brainstorm ways to connect families with community services, such as through a planned community event.
  • Create advertisements for upcoming community events and plan for ways to effectively disseminate the information to families.

Assignment

L6. Partner with community organizations to coordinate resources that support child development.

With your site/campus-based leadership team, review your team’s self-assessed rating for Action Step L6 in the TSLP Implementation Status Ratings document and then respond to the four questions in the assignment.

TSLP Implementation Status Ratings 0-SE

In completing your assignment with your team, the following resources and information from this lesson’s content may be useful to you:

  • Refer to Part 1 for ideas for identifying and recruiting community partners.
  • Refer to Part 2 for suggestions to begin your relationship with your community partners.
  • Refer to Part 3 for an example of how to work with your community partners.

Next Steps also contains suggestions that your site or campus may want to consider when you focus your efforts on this Action Step.

To record your responses, go to the Assignment template for this lesson and follow the instructions.

Completion

Follow instructions provided by your school or district.