If you want to work with these partners…
You should contact…
You’ll need to think about…
Head Start / Early Head Start
Head Start Collaboration Office
Virginia Head Start Association
Local Head Start Director
Community Action Partnership (CAP) Agencies
Head Start grantees operate on 5-year contracts and may be more open to collaboration at various points along that timeline.
Head Start programs are held accountable to performance standards which ensure high levels of program quality, teacher qualifications, and family support.
Head Start has provided considerable leeway as to where services are delivered (public schools, private centers, family day homes).
Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI)
Local VPI Coordinator
VPI funds flow through school districts and therefore are subject to local budgeting processes and timelines.
VPI also has considerable leeway as to where services are delivered (public schools, private centers).
Director of Early Childhood
Federal program representatives
Working with a bureaucratic entity: there is often (sometimes unwritten) protocol about who makes what types of decisions, how these requests are funneled, or who has the agency or authority to respond.
The decisions at the district level are often made months (or years) in advance. Attempting fast-paced innovation is unlikely to be a successful strategy.
Working with a school system also comes with community-wide benefits, such as: data sharing, connections with kindergarten and early elementary, increased compensation for teachers, and administrative resources, job-embedded professional development, and opportunities for career growth.
In some divisions with larger fiscal staffing, the accountability systems are sophisticated. Behind the scenes, funding from different streams is kept siloed for accountability purposes; in a classroom, it’s impossible to tell what dollar what spent for what service / child.
Private Child Care Providers (centers, family day homes, religious exempt programs)
Local trainings, workshops, directors’ groups and association meetings are all good places to share information.
Private child care providers may have the most flexibility to innovate, try new things, adapt new models, and work with new partners. However, that flexibility is often overshadowed by a fear of financial risk. Understand that and help think through solutions that meet both the community’s needs and the provider’s needs as well.
Early childhood directors and administrators may be difficult to access. This is not because they lack interest or motivation. It helps to understand that their days are often unpredictable and the best laid plans can go awry when responding to the needs of small (and large!) humans.
Understand that building a relationship--and trust--may take many calls, meetings, and visits. Think about who in your community already has established relationships with the provider community.
Think about communicating regularly, in multiple ways. Oftentimes, successes are about catching someone at the right time.
Think about convenience for the providers: a 6 a.m., 7 p.m. or Saturday meetings may be the only times they are consistently available.
Sometimes a provider is not the “decision-maker,” and you will need to figure out who is--the Board of Directors? A corporate office? An owner? The families?