This month’s newsletter focuses on the idea of creating a culture of continuous quality improvement. Besides members of leadership and employees, the families and children we serve are important partners on this journey toward high quality early childhood programming. If you think about it, everything that is done within a program has an impact of families and children, so it only makes sense that we would gather information from them during the process. This information can inform decisions about areas of opportunity, goal setting, and action planning.
Here are a few ideas for engaging with families as part of continuous quality improvement efforts:
- Family surveys – It is good practice to gather feedback from families throughout the year in the form of a customer satisfaction survey. You could choose to include general satisfaction questions on your surveys or customize survey questions to focus on specific areas that you are targeting to quality improvement. For example, you may choose to send out a survey that focuses specifically on aspects of food service or summer field trips.
- Surveys of unenrolled families – It may be possible to gather important information from families who have disenrolled from your program in the past year. What contributed to their decision to discontinue care for their child(ren)? You can take this idea a step forward and ask families who toured the facility, but did not choose to enroll, what contributed to their decision.
- Child surveys – Preschool and school-age children are quite capable of discussing elements of their experience that could be improved upon. Engage children during class meetings or meal times to discuss ways they think the program could be better. You may get some silly ideas, but then again, you may be very surprised by the ideas the children share.
- Family Committees – Parent representatives acting as advisors on family committees are investing valuable time contributing to your program. Engage them in the process of quality improvement by inviting them to participate in the steps your program is undergoing. Consider having a few students participate in your family committee quality improvement efforts as well!
- Engage with parent experts – It’s possible that a few of the family members of y our program have expertise in quality improvement, goal setting, or event grant writing (for those projects that require extra funds). Reach out to the experts in your extended circle to capitalize on all possible opportunities.
Each of these actions helps build stronger relationships with families, which in and of itself, is an element of quality improvement for early learning environments.
How have you been able to engage families in your program’s continuous quality improvement initiatives? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page here.