What are the building blocks necessary to build a successful early learning program?
Of course, many factors and challenges can exist. But as we noted last week, a new research report titled “Building Successful P-3 Initiatives: Foundations and Catalysts for Systems Change” outlines the capabilities and drivers required to make these programs work. The repot was issued by the Center for Improvement of Child & Family Services at Portland State University and The Oregon Community Foundation.
Our previous post addressed the six Foundations the report cites — “the basic functional elements needed to establish a successful P-3 initiative.” These include:
- Stakeholders with a Strong Understanding of the P-3 Approach
- Dedicated, Willing Leadership
- Effective Collaborative Teams
- A Shared Vision for Long-Term Success
- An Informed Action Plan
- Meaningful Inclusion of Family and Staff Voice
Early Learning Program Catalysts
But strong Foundations are only half of the story, according to the report. With the right Catalysts, that foundational work can build. The Catalysts include:
Capacity to Support P-3 Work: “Building P-3 foundations takes time, resources and effort. P-3 leaders typically have a full plate even without these added demands. The most successful P-3 initiatives have been supported by additional resources, including dedicated staff time to advance the work.”
Intentionality: “In the P-3 context, intentionality is defined as a focused, strategic approach to partnership development, planning and implementation. Intentional P-3 initiatives maintain a sharp focus on short- and long-term objectives while remaining flexible enough to respond to lessons learned and contextual changes.”
Ongoing, Data-Informed Shared Learning: “We define this catalyst… to include a commitment to shared learning and data-informed decision-making. This may include traditional data collection, synthesis and review; the use of published and unpublished research on effective P-3 practices; and formal and informal sharing of P-3 strategies and lessons learned.”
What’s the key to Catalysts?
The authors write: “P-3 initiatives in which the collaborative environment is energized by these catalysts can build more quickly on initial successes and move more quickly toward desired outcomes. They can also avoid false starts, failures and wasting resources on activities that are unlikely to achieve meaningful change. When ongoing attention is paid to these catalysts, P-3 work is more likely to become a sustainable community-driven endeavor that achieves lasting changes in the systems that support families and children from birth to grade 3.”