Reaching Out?

The Early Years Staff at the Ministry of Education are currently chatting with each district across the province about StrongStart BC Early Learning Programs. One strongly emerging theme is that of reaching out to vulnerable families in their community.

How is your program, school or district actively engaging these young families?

In what ways are you ensuring that programs are welcoming and accessible?

Please share your innovative practice!!

Leave a comment

4 Comments

  1. In SD70 (Alberni) our Strong Start facilitators have 1 day a month dedicated to Outreach efforts. Outreach activities are documented explaining/showing which connections were made throughout the month. It is a good way to keep track of what we are doing and not. Efforts to be more accessible to vulnerable families happen all the time (not just one day a month).

    Some of our activities include:
    • hand out our program pamphlets and posters to certain locations around town where families visit. For example the Bread of Life, doctors’ offices, stores, health unit etc.
    • use Facebook to share info with families and other SS facilitators it shows all our program information and also fun child facts/poems and stories, as well as our contact info
    • visit/chat with families at various locations – it might mean having a conversation with a family at a park explaining our program or anywhere else where a quick chat is possible in a positive way.
    • keep a handy supply of brochures and magnets in the car

    With other service providers we:
    • Connect with local child care facilities and go to ECE/early years meetings
    • visit Head Start Centers (coordinator and staff) to build relationships and promote SS, we also share resources and information with them
    • Develop relationships with Aboriginal staff by asking questions, inviting them for a cup of coffee, asking for shared resources.
    • make phone calls to other child or health professionals to connect or to plan a visit
    • share resources with primary teachers and work with Community School Coordinators who can also promote us all well.
    • Work with the PAC’s – share fundraising efforts of PAC with SS families, and PAC promotes SS
    • Involve the school Principal and always keep the school secretary informed

    During program times, we try to make things welcoming and accessible by:
    • greeting families each time they come in with a big hello and how are you?
    • using clear signage – the Provincial Strong Start location sign and welcome sign hang in a visible location
    • display child accessible photos of our families in various locations in our room
    • create comfortable areas to sit and relax, bright open areas; plants; and family friendly music
    • create multicultural displays around the room; on at all times.
    • Create a schedule that allows families to choose or have options for when they want to visit our program (for example 3 mornings, 1 afternoon and 1 evening at Alberni).

    Posted by Tracy Smyth on behalf of the SD70 (Alberni) Strong Start Facilitators.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

     /  November 13, 2012

    I agree Janet that it is not always the poor families that can use support; often it is an older, first time mom that has huge expectations about being a good mom and does not yet have many of the skills that it takes to be an engaged parent.

    Reply
  3. Janet Hoag

     /  November 9, 2012

    We connect with Community Services (Family Place) and work together, supporting each other to meet the varying needs of families. Our community is small and we communicate and strive to reach out to those who we think might be vulnerable . These are not always poor families, but families who need support in different ways. It’s very informal, meeting people on the playground or in the grocery store and inviting them to come. Word of mouth is our best friend, and we have new families every week.
    We contact the doctors, midwives, and community health nurses and they recommend the program to families. We have had problems with accessibility. It’s difficult for those who do not drive or don’t have a car in a rural area. We have experimented with car pooling, giving out bus tickets and taxi vouchers with varying degrees of success.
    Yes, many don’t have birth certificates. I know some programs will take care cards, which most people carry with them, as ID for registration which would facilitate access. Most people coming to our program do eventually, after many reminders, bring birth certificates and register. We welcome all families, even if they don’t have ID.
    Janet Hoag
    Strong Start Facilitator
    SD64 Gulf islands

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth Pennell

     /  November 8, 2012

    We are currently working with our Aboriginal Education department to ensure all SS facilitators are connecting with the Aboriginal staff at their school. Ab Ed staff are being invited into programs to offer cultural activities, drumming, singing, storytelling to help facilitators ensure a welcoming and culturally appealing environment for families. At the moment we are also brainstorming other ways to enhance the environment for families who may be reluctant to attend. We have seen many new families this year and are pleased with the way word is spreading.
    One issue that gets in the way for some families who may be most vulnerable is having to provide a birth certificate. We are working with schools to assist in this area because sometimes the $27.00 required is simply not possible. What are others doing about this?

    Elizabeth Pennell
    Coordinator Early Learning and Community Liaison
    School District 68 Nanaimo -Ladysmith
    250-740-3516 phone
    250-740-3508 fax

    Reply

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