Essential Tips: Strategic Planning

Tip #1:  Achieve buy-in before you begin.

Include all stakeholders in strategic planning to establish buy-in. Staff from a variety of positions (teachers, family service workers, center directors, home visitors, management staff, etc.) will bring a different point of view. Also invite members from your Policy Council and Board of Directors as well as community partners. Ask everyone to complete a survey prior to strategic planning. Be sure the survey includes questions about what they want the program to accomplish for children, families, staff and community.

Tip #2:  Create a list of your program’s strengths and challenges.

This list should contain valuable information to establish your program’s goals and objectives. The challenges represent potential goals and the strengths represent potential strategies to achieve the goals. Also take time to review your program’s mission, vision and guiding principles. Ensure they accurately reflect what you are working to achieve. Finally, for each goal and objective, in addition to timelines and persons responsible, include a “success indicator” column.  This will specifically describe how it will look when each goal is achieved.

Tip #3:  Review and utilize your programmatic data.

Strategic planning is a great time to collect and review key programmatic documents as a group. Critical data includes items such as your self-assessment, community assessment, child assessment data, CLASS data, ongoing monitoring data and family engagement data, just to name a few. Review this important data when creating your goals and objectives.

Looking for someone to facilitate your program’s Strategic Planning and end up with a written strategic plan? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Preparing for a Successful Health & Safety Federal Monitoring Review Event

Have you begun to prepare for your Environmental Health & Safety Review Event? For many programs, Environmental Health & Safety is the first Review Event that you will receive in the newly aligned monitoring system. The new Environmental Health & Safety protocol details the items that will be a part of this Review Event.

Below are several important items to focus on when preparing for a successful Health & Safety Review Event:

  • Observe the health and safety-related items in your facilities. Observe the same things that the Reviewers will be observing. These include: 1) the safety and cleanliness of your inside and outdoor spaces, 2) staff/child ratios, 3) emergency procedures, 4) supervision and 5) medication management. These are just a few of the areas that the Reviewers will be observing. Create a plan to quickly resolve any areas that are out of compliance.
  • Review your tracking systems.  Ensure that your tracking systems are current and complete. The Reviewers will spend time reviewing the system that you use to ensure that all of your staff receive a criminal record check prior to being hired. They will also review documents related to inspections (fire, building, USDA) and Licensing.
  • Articulate the systems that are in place.  Reviewers want to see systems in place throughout your program. When interviewing your staff, the Reviewers want to hear about the systems that you have in place as it pertains to health and safety. Answer their questions by describing the systems, (i.e. First we do this, then we do this, etc…), demonstrating that the same process is followed for all children and families in each of your centers.

Looking for a Mock Review to prepare for a successful Health & Safety Federal Monitoring Review Event? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Considerations When Conducting CLASS Observations

As you know, it’s important to have high scores on your CLASS observations. High CLASS scores correlate with effective teaching practices. In addition, low CLASS scores is the leading cause of programs being placed in Recompetition.

When conducting CLASS observations, consider the following 3 points:

  • Attain buy-in. Talk with your teaching staff about the process prior to the CLASS observations. Discuss the purpose of the observations as well as the plan to provide support to teaching teams after the observations are completed. You’ll secure buy-in when everyone knows what to expect and are informed of the benefits.
  • Provide feedback and mentor coaching. After you complete the observations in each classroom, provide immediate feedback to the teaching team on their strengths and areas for improvement. Follow up with mentor coaching to teaching staff who could benefit from individualized support. Mentor coaching activities can include:
    • Setting goals to work on during the mentor coaching process;
    • Sending video clips to the Teachers to review along with guided questions to answer;
    • Providing video clips to the Mentor Coach that were taken by the teachers in their classrooms. These clips will provide an opportunity for the Mentor Coach to provide feedback;
    • Sending activities to the Teachers to work on and reflect upon;
    • Having phone calls or meetings between the Mentor Coach and Teachers to discuss the video clips and activities.
  • Utilize the results. Analyze the results of the CLASS observations as a part of your programmatic planning. You can utilize the results when reviewing your school readiness plan and in strategic planning. These results are critical when making decisions about the training plan for your teaching staff as well as their professional development plans. They should also drive your decisions as it pertains to classroom instruction, purchasing of supplies and mentor coaching.

Looking for an outside observer to conduct your CLASS observations or long-distance Mentor Coaching? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at