The Caring for Our Children standards provide guidance for early learning programs aspiring to create the safest and most healthy environments for young children. Whether working as an individual, teaching team, or entire staff to improve practices, here are a few tips to help you utilize Caring for Our Children in your quality improvement initiatives.
- Consider your priorities –Reflect on recent licensing inspections, family surveys, accreditation feedback, staff surveys, anecdotal observation, etc. to determine areas that could be improved upon. The areas that you identify will become your target standards.
- Identify the audience – Not every standard applies to all teachers. Some standards are specific to infant teachers or staff members who diaper children. Determine who the right people are to evaluate the standards and current program practices.
- Review licensing standards – In many cases, licensing regulations and CFOC standards are aligned, but it is critical that all staff members are aware of the small variations that may exist between regulations and standards. Determine the minimum requirements and strengthen your program practices from that point.
- Review the CFOC standards, rationales, and comments related to the area you aim to improve. Explore the additional references that are provided after each standard as well as any related standards that align with the targeted standard.
- Discuss the elements of the standard to ensure that everyone involved has a consistent understanding of the language of the standard. Use the glossary of terms and any related appendices to clarify terms or specifics related to the target standard.
- Conduct a self-study – Staff members who are involved in the quality improvement effort should spend a period of time conducting an assessment of how they currently manage elements of the target standard. This self-study should be and honest reflection of the current practices, where they exceed licensing regulations and CFOC standards, as well as where they fall short.
- Identify actions that need to be taken based on current program practices and the language of the standard.
- Create a realistic action plan – Plans may be easy to implement or require an incremental approach. Some plans only require a change to a written policy. Other plans will require behavior changes that take time to practice and master. Set a date to evaluate success.
- Evaluate and celebrate – Take time to recognize accomplishments. If further action is necessary, revise your action plan, but be sure to celebrate the dedication and efforts of all involved!