Once you have developed a plan and laid the groundwork for success, begin executing toward your goals and work to sustain the momentum of your efforts. As you make progress, measure results and adjust as needed.
Implement the Plan
Before implementing your action plan, examine your state’s readiness by determining the resources and planning that may still be needed to successfully reach your goals. Ensure all key roles and responsibilities are accounted for and that you are leveraging each stakeholder strategically. Use the list in "Questions to Ask" to assess your readiness for action.
You should expect to adjust your plan to accommodate unforeseen challenges. Be open to alternative strategies from stakeholders who may offer new ideas for how to accomplish goals and get the work done. Actively monitor your overall initiative and strategies to address needed mid-course correction and integrate continuous improvement strategies.
- Do you have the data and other information you need to understand the most critical issues facing infants, toddlers, and families in your state?
- Who will facilitate your leadership and stakeholder team discussions?
- Is your vision for change clear?
- Based on the data, have you determined a SMART goal and selected outcomes and indicators to track against your goal?
- Do you have all the necessary team members to achieve your goals? Do you have their buy-in?
- Do you have staff and resources committed to supporting family outreach and engagement?
- Do you have a person who is focused on keeping everyone on task and holding team members accountable to their work?
- Do you have a dedicated space and time for stakeholder meetings to occur? How will you report progress? How will you communicate or share out updates and to whom?
The Hexagon Discussion and Analysis Tool helps organizations evaluate new and existing programs and practices. This tool is designed to be used by implementation teams to facilitate a discussion of six contextual fit and feasibility indicators.
This framework provides examples of approaches to state-level early childhood governance systems that are designed to improve early childhood outcomes.
This case study describes how Washington developed and implemented a TANF Home Visiting pilot that strengthened partnerships between TANF and home visiting programs to better serve families. It includes a timeline of pivotal moments in the evolution of the state’s work and identifies keys to the success of their collaborative efforts.
This plan, submitted to the Washington State Legislature, covers policy recommendations, relevant research around birth-to-3, outcomes and funding options. Sample legislation is included in the appendix.
This action plan offers a fresh approach to early childhood policies that get to the roots of racial equity. It describes how to promote social, economic, health, and educational equity by broadening the current early childhood public policy focus in Minnesota on early education and service programs to include funding efforts that promote positive early experiences (safe, stable, and nurturing relationships), economic security, and builds upon the assets and capacities of all families and communities.
Be Accountable for Results
Evaluate the results of your initiative on a regular basis to identify successes and areas of improvement and look for elements of your activities that need to be changed. Make constant feedback and learning a priority in your evaluation process.
Your ability to show long-term impact may take multiple years, but short-term goals can be measured to ensure that you are moving in the right direction.
From the beginning, have a timeline in place that will help manage expectations around both short- and long-term goals and help you to feel less pressure to present results before they are ready.
Use the BUILD Initiative framework found below in "Tools to Use" to understand key principles and steps to evaluate your initiatives.
- Who is the audience for this evaluation?
- Who needs to be involved in the evaluation?
- How will we include the opinions of parents, families, and caregivers?
- Who has the capacity to analyze the data we have collected?
- What contributed to the successful implementation of our strategies? What were barriers?
- How does the Leadership Team or other stakeholders assess the work we have accomplished?
- How well did we engage the Leadership Team in the process?
- What are the results of our efforts in terms of new children and families served?
- What are the results of our efforts in terms of programs and policies expanded?
- What are the results of our efforts in terms of underlying infrastructure and systems changed? How do we know we have made progress?
This paper offers a framework that clarifies ideas, approaches, and language about evaluating systems initiatives to facilitate reflections about past evaluations and to guide decisions about future evaluations.
There are several strategies that are key to sustaining momentum:
Communicate—frequent communication, including two-way interactions with stakeholders, sustains energy for an initiative.
Educate—build awareness of the importance of the work and increase knowledge of the critical prenatal-to-three period in your constituents, including growing understanding of the necessary investments for positive impact.
Recognize gains—no matter how small, to keep stakeholders focused on forward movement.
Be realistic—ensure a shared understanding of the dimensions of change and the timeline for change across a system.
Track progress—measure against long-term goals to remind stakeholders of the ultimate vision and goals.
Maintain the right infrastructure—underlying a robust support system for families with infants and toddlers is a state infrastructure that enables families to get the right services at the right time and leverages the roles of the diverse sectors that make up the system. Building and maintaining this infrastructure is crucial to sustaining momentum for your policies and programs and achieving impact at scale.
Delaware's strategic plan for their statewide early childhood system details their goals, guiding principles, and strategies for successfully reaching their goals to improve outcomes for young children.
University of Chicago Professor James Heckman's latest research shows the economic benefits of high-quality birth-to-five programs for disadvantaged children.
This case study describes how Colorado communities and state agencies have integrated a two-generation approach into services and systems to better serve young children and their families. It includes a timeline of pivotal moments in the evolution of the state’s work and identifies keys to the success of their collaborative efforts.