Early Childhood Systems Building Resource Guide

Communication Planning

Effective Communication about the Early Years: Framing Early Childhood Issues (Zero to Three, 2006). 
This series of articles is intended to help support infant-toddler professionals in their communication efforts. It includes articles on message framing, effective communication strategies, and storytelling.

Elevating Quality Rating and Improvement System Communications: How to Improve Outreach to and Engagement with Providers, Parents, Policymakers, and the Public (Child Trends, 2015).
The purpose of this report is to provide a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) communications framework and examples that can be used to support and improve communications with providers, parents, partners, policymakers, and the public. This report is intended for state QRIS program administrators, communications staff, and consultants; funders; partner organizations; and policymakers.

Infant and Toddler Messaging Guide (Advocacy and Communication Solutions and Zero to Three, 2015).
This guide was created to help stakeholders talk about the importance of the earliest years of a child’s life and to make a stronger case for investment in infants and toddlers. Section 1 provides insight on national message trends for children from birth to 3 years old. Section 2 offers guidance on how to develop infant and toddler messages that work effectively.

Public Education and Outreach (Deborah Glik and Elena Halpert-Schilt, 2001).
California’s county Proposition 10 commissions are charged with the responsibility of planning and designing a comprehensive, integrated strategic plan to implement the California Children and Families Act of 1998 to achieve three strategic results: improved family functioning (strong families), improved child development (children learning and ready for school), and improved child health (healthy children). This paper provides background information on the basic development and production steps for a successful health communication campaign. Specifically, this paper describes the processes and possible outcomes that California’s Proposition 10 commissions can achieve by using techniques of strategic communications.

Talking Early Child Development and Exploring the Consequences of Frame Choices: A FrameWorks Message Memo (FrameWorks Institute, 2005).
This memo reports on the findings from FrameWorks’s research on how the public views early childhood issues in general and school readiness policies specifically. The goal of this research is to provide a foundation for understanding how the public thinks about school readiness, the implications of these thinking patterns, and what alternative frames might yield better public support for the kinds of policies child-focused organizations propose. It also examines whether frames currently in use by advocates, legislators, policy experts, and scientists advance a coherent understanding of how children grow and develop, are sufficient to support a movement that must persist over time, and address a range of issues spanning health, education, housing, and economic policies.

Ten Tips for an Effective Communication Approach, Message Creation Checklist, and The Dirty Dozen of Strategic Communication (Advocacy and Communication Solutions, 2015).
These brief documents provide basic information and tips about communications planning and messaging that can help initiatives and programs begin thinking through their communications approach.

The Communication Plan (Child Care State Systems Specialist Network, 2014).
To build effective communication, Child Care and Development Fund State Administrators may want to establish informal and formal communication links and communicate openly and frequently with partners. This brief resource is intended to outline fundamental issues to consider when developing a communication plan.

Webinar Summary: Building Public Will as You Race to the Top (Early Learning Challenge Technical Assistance Program, 2015).
This webinar summary provides an overview of strategies that States and localities can use to build public will to promote early childhood issues and initiatives. It defines public will and describes how to build it and how to leverage existing public-private partnerships and relationships. The summary describes pitfalls, barriers, and challenges, as well as demonstrated successes from other states.

Communication Skills and Styles

Common Decision Rules: Rationale, Typology, and Impacts (Sam Kaner, Lenny Lind, Catherine Toldi, Sarah Fisk, and Duane Berger, 2007).
This tool is a part of the Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making. It examines patterns of decisionmaking and explains the six most common rules of decisionmaking practice: unanimous agreement, majority vote, person in charge decides without discussion, “flip a coin,” delegation, and person in charge decides after discussion. It also provides implications and considerations for each decision rule.

Communications Skills (Mind Tools, n.d.).
This page provides many resources and tools to help individuals understand, assess, and build on their communications skills. It includes information on planning communication for maximum impact, influencing people effectively, and handling difficult communication situations.

“Communications Style Inventory”  (Tony Alessandra and Michael J. O’Connor,1996).
This is an informal survey designed to help an individual understand his or her communication style based on how he or she usually acts in everyday situations. Participants score their answers and are told if they display the characteristics of each of four communication types: controller/director, promoter/socializer, supporter/relater, and analyzer/thinker.

Conflict Response Styles (Child Care State Systems Specialist Network, 2014).
Conflict resolution plans developed at the beginning of the partnership will be essential as partners work to solve difficult problems and move systems forward. This resource summarizes a classic model for framing conflict by five conflict response styles: completion, collaboration, compromise, avoidance, and accommodation.

Facilitation Planning Checklist (Advocacy and Communication Solutions, 2015).
This checklist was designed to help a facilitator design, plan for, and prepare a facilitated session. It prompts the facilitator with questions to gather background information, including information on objectives and participants; helps the facilitator identify the best session flow; and ensures that the facilitator remembers materials and pre- and postevent details.

Group Decision Making Styles (Child Care State Systems Specialist Network, 2014).
This resource describes four common decisionmaking styles. It is necessary to consider decisionmaking style when developing communication strategies that are responsive to the needs of the people and organizations that are part of early childhood development systems-building efforts. This resource is accompanied by a quiz activity designed to help readers further explore the decisionmaking styles.

Results Based Facilitation: Moving from Talk to Action (Jolie Bain Pillsbury, 2013).
Results Based Facilitation (RBF) is a competency-based approach to participating in and facilitating meetings to get results. The six RBF competencies used by participants and facilitators move groups from talk to action that produces results within programs, organizations, and communities. This is done by focusing on meeting results and by developing an accountability framework for commitments to aligned action. The central organizing concept of RBF is achievement of and accountability for results. This resource outlines the concept of RBF and introduces the competencies needed to implement this approach.

Stakeholder and Family Engagement

Creating a Stakeholder Communications Plan (Sport and Recreation New Zealand, n.d.).
This workbook provides an eight-step communications planning framework. It offers examples and prompts that aim to help readers think strategically to develop a pragmatic communications plan. The eight steps outlined in the workbook are setting communications objectives, setting key messages, defining and prioritizing key stakeholders, developing key messages for each stakeholder group, developing communications tactics for each stakeholder group, allocating budget and responsibilities, developing a communications calendar, and assessing results and adapting the plan.

Eight Steps to Successful Engagement (Advocacy and Communication Solutions, 2015).
This brief resource outlines eight steps to successful engagement: begin at the end, create a great introduction, do your homework, develop engagement strategies, write a script, engage, follow up and follow through, and track your progress.

Family Involvement in Early Childhood Education (Heather B. Weiss, Margaret Caspe, and M. Elena Lopez, 2006).
This research brief synthesizes the latest research that demonstrates how family involvement contributes to young children's learning and development. The brief summarizes the latest evidence base on effective involvement—specifically, the research studies that link family involvement in early childhood to outcomes and programs that have been evaluated to show what works.

Gaining Buy-In From the Front Line During Times of Change (National Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center for Systems of Care, n.d.).
This brief draws from the experiences of the Children’s Bureau Systems of Care grant communities as they embarked on comprehensive systems and organizational change. It examines the critical role of frontline staff in carrying out change and outlines key steps and strategies for engaging them during times of change. This brief discusses strategies in the context of systems of care, but the lessons learned and tips offered can be applied more broadly to other child welfare agency reform efforts that reflect new ways of working with children and families.

The Case for Stakeholder Engagement” (Stanford Social Innovation Review, by Kathleen P. Enright and Courtney Bourns, 2010).
This article argues that the success of grantmaking initiatives often hinges on the degree to which funders engage grantees and other stakeholders in identifying problems and designing solutions. It outlines the benefits of engagement and describes examples of successful engagement efforts.

What is Stakeholder Management? (Mind Tools, n.d.).
Stakeholder management is the process by which individuals or organizations identify key stakeholders and win their support. This module provides information on stakeholder analysis, or the process by which one identifies and starts to understand the most important stakeholders. It then provides resources for the next step in the process, stakeholder planning. Stakeholder planning is the process by which one plans how to manage stakeholders and gain their support for projects.

‘You Know How it Makes Your Feel’: Low-Income Parents' Childcare Priorities and Definitions of Ideal High-Quality Child Care” (Journal of Children and Poverty, by Nicole D. Forry, Shana Simkin, Edyth J. Wheeler, and Allison Bock, 2013).
Through focus groups and a written activity, this study explores and compares 41 low-income Maryland parents' childcare priorities and definitions of ideal high-quality care. Features of ideal high-quality care identified by parents align with professional standards and with descriptions found in existing literature, though parents' operationalized definitions of quality varied, and their expectations were lower than most professional standards. There was also strong alignment between identified features of high-quality care and parents' priorities in their most recent childcare searches, though parents focused less on structured learning opportunities when discussing childcare priorities and more on practical features of care.