The Lancaster County stakeholders group began as an early childhood subcommittee of the Lancaster County Alternative Response coalition. The subcommittee created three goals:
- Lincoln’s families have access to high-quality early childhood education programs that provide a variety of wrap-around services to support social-emotional needs of children and families. Focus: Nebraska’s Step Up to Quality system and implementation of the Pyramid Model.
- Lincoln’s families have the resources they need to support their children’s optimal development by providing safe, healthy, and nurturing home environments. Focus: providing a variety of resources to families.
- Lincoln’s families have access to high-quality early childhood education programs that provide a variety of wrap around services to support social emotional needs of children and families ~ Focus: providing opportunities to families to strengthen their parenting skills.
Prior to starting the Rooted in Relationships project, Lancaster County had been using the Pyramid Model only in LPS-supported early childhood programs. The county identified the need to expand the implementation of the Pyramid Model into traditional, community-based child care programs.
Additionally, to begin to meet the outcome for goal three, Lancaster County began a monthly COS Facilitators support meeting as a way to gather the county’s COS facilitators and begin to identify the needs of the current “system” for providing COS classes as well as the needs of the current facilitators. During these monthly meetings, the group identified the need to create a more intentional and well-developed system of delivery and support for COS in Lancaster County.
The stakeholder group was very excited to begin a partnership with RiR as a way to support the county’s goals, provide a more formalized structure around Pyramid Model implementation (including coaching, training, and support/resources for the child care teachers), and create a system of COS delivery. Without the support of RiR, the county would not have had the funding, and additional support, to be able to carry out its goals.
Since the initial stakeholders group was convened by the AR (Alternative Response) work in Lancaster County, the group consisted of a very small workgroup including representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, Nebraska AEYC, LPS early childhood programs, the Nebraska Early Learning Connections Coordinator for Southeast NE, Sixpence, Cedars Youth Services, the Head Start State Collaboration Office, and community licensed mental health providers.
As the group narrowed its focus to the implementation of Pyramid and work around COS, it expanded its stakeholder participation to include the Lancaster County Pyramid implementation coaches and the Lancaster County COS facilitators and/or agencies that provide COS.
Initially, the planning process was very smooth and successful, with the AR early childhood subcommittee coming together to quickly identify needs/goals for Lancaster County. The group was able to conduct the ECSOC parent survey, which supported the county’s goals; however, the subcommittee is very small and did not include all of the necessary stakeholders to move its goals forward. Over time, the AR structure changed, which no longer supported the subcommittee’s ongoing work. The early childhood subcommittee feels very strongly about community collaboration and has since engaged in communications with Prosper Lincoln as a way to connect their early childhood education initiative with the work of the county’s early childhood committee. The hope is that this new community partnership will allow the county to grow its stakeholder team, conduct the full ECSOC survey, and move its goals forward.
Although the original goals of the Lancaster County AR early childhood subcommittee remain intact, they have become more focused:
- Early childhood education program quality will improve through the implementation of the Pyramid Model.
- Lancaster County will have a sustainable system for supporting social-emotional development of young children.
Lancaster County plans to address the following items in the next year:
- Continued support for current Pyramid teachers/directors involved in the program through year three
- Expansion of Pyramid model implementation to include additional programs/teachers/directors for another three years (and beyond)
- Partnership with Prosper Lincoln to expand stakeholders group
- Completion of full ECSOC survey
- Creation/development of COS system for Lancaster County
- Partnership with Prosper Lincoln, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, and Nebraska AEYC to secure additional funding through the Woods Charitable Fund to support ongoing Pyramid work
Making it work.
As Lancaster County pursues its overall goals, the stakeholders have a number of hopes and aims for a successful implementation:
- The knowledge, skills, and abilities of the teachers working with this project will have improved.
- The overall quality of the county’s early childhood education programs will have improved.
- The knowledge, skills, and abilities of the center directors working with this project will have improved.
- The knowledge, skills, and abilities of the county’s Pyramid coaches will have improved.
- Children attending programs that have been participating in the Pyramid project will have the social-emotional skills they need.
- Families will have a variety of resources accessible to them to improve their parenting skills.