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October 10, 2019

Emergencies happen, and it’s your job to be ready when they do. Natural and human-caused threats to safety can take many forms. A sudden thunderstorm may knock down power lines and flood roads, or a family dispute may leave the home and enter your program site. Prepare now to respond to an emergency by making sure you have a targeted, up-to-date safety plan and training to support it.

The new Y4Y Click & Go, Developing and Implementing a Safety Plan, offers guidance and tools to help. Here are a few highlights from the mini-lesson, podcasts and tools; consider what you already know, and explore to begin your next steps.

Look for an existing safety plan. Most schools and community organizations that regularly host activities for children and families have safety plans in place. You need to know whether and how your 21st CCLC program is included in the host organization’s plan. Start by using the Safety Plan Meeting Request to get a copy of the plan and connect with the site’s safety leader.

If necessary, adapt or update the safety plan to your situation. Perhaps the out-of-school time program is new and wasn’t included in the host site’s plan. Work with the site safety leader to determine how your staff and students should respond to various situations. Use the Site Coordinator Safety Checklist to make sure you consider important areas and procedures, such as using a fire extinguisher, locking and unlocking doors and windows, sheltering in place, and evacuating your space.

Create and implement a Training and Practice Plan. Train staff members and practice safety procedures with them and with students. This will help to reduce chaos and confusion during an emergency and will reduce anxiety for everyone, families included.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Stay in regular touch with the host organization’s safety leader, so both sides know if anything about a safety plan needs to change. When you practice safety procedures, ask to be sure everyone understands their role or knows whose lead to follow. Use the Communication With Families About Safety tool to guide set-up of contact procedures during an emergency.

Get set to become “emergency ready” with the Y4Y Safety Click & Go.

 


October 10, 2019

The Y4Y team recently caught up with Emanuel Betz, 21st CCLC state coordinator for Vermont, to ask some questions about partnerships in his state.

What does the ground floor of your 21st CCLC partnership development look like?

First, for key partners, let’s name three pillars to call the foundation, or ground floor: the school, community and family. 

In many ways, the core “partner” in the 21st CCLC-funded project is the school. Every project needs a school (assuming it is ready and has the capacity), its resources, leaders and teachers who “get it” to actively contribute to the vision. If the school, leaders or system are not integrated with the project over time, it is fair to say it may not even work, and certainly may not be sustained or as effective as it should be. This would be especially true in a small rural community.

The second pillar consists of community contributors. These can take many forms in size and scope, including organizational or individual commitments. No contribution or activity is too small. These often manifest themselves effectively as wonderfully diverse learning opportunities, be it in STEM, the environment, in the arts and movement, or in content areas where the school may not have expertise. Look for successful organizations to support new ideas and professional development and funding.

The third pillar would be family, whether it’s just getting their kids to the program because they know they need and want it, or at greater levels, such as attending events and programming. Family members are often key stakeholders, supporters or leaders.

What are the key elements you’ve found lead to the most successful and long-lasting partnerships?

First, I think the personality and leadership skill sets of the program leaders are most important. A charismatic leader who is an effective communicator goes places quickly. Second, people who know the served community intimately have an edge on navigating challenges, maintaining relationships and building quality over time. Third, leadership retention and consistency over time provide a platform for consistent growth, especially in tandem with the above.

What are ways to expand community partners into sustainable funding sources? How else do you recommend pursuing sustainable funding after grants expire?  

I don’t think viewing partners as sustainable funding sources really works. Any partnership can be developed and contribute to quality over time. What works is a collaborative enterprise, and the results that come may not be foreseen. For example, one arts partnership I had as a program director came out of the blue with a $30,000 grant to expand our program approach. That was an unexpected but cool conversation! I think the key element to creating sustainable funding sources is executing high-quality programs that the community values because they are good and serve kids well. That is job one. Money should and will follow high-quality programming. 

I think, too, it is important to identify a partner as different from a contractor. A partner is an organization, individual or group that shares ownership of the application (program) and its intended results. Partners may assume responsibility, manage, and contribute or create activities that support the vision.

Perhaps a starting point could be using a self-assessment tool to investigate possibilities. In Vermont, after Year 5, we have a goal that at least 50% of funding would come from five different sources. There are some proven key strategies that explicitly support sustainability and can be used to build a plan that keys off of quality. This sustainability self-assessment for afterschool programs is based on the one we use in Vermont.

 


October 10, 2019

“Before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. After you become a leader, success is about growing others.” As a 21st CCLC program leader, you no doubt see the wisdom in this insight from business leader Jack Welch. After all, supporting and acknowledging your team’s professional growth benefits your program as well as individual staff members. It also helps you retain staff because it shows you’re invested in their success and treasure their contributions.

Y4Y’s new online Human Resources course walks you through nine key strategies you can use to manage and develop your staff. It covers everything from hiring to training to building a positive work environment to managing staff performance. Here are three tips you can start using right away:

Help staff members find their sweet spot. If Natalie loves to plan, enlist her to help plan the next Family Literacy Event or Citizen Science Experience. Once she’s had success, provide opportunities for her to grow her skills and use them in new ways. For example, ask her to lead a planning team, create an event planning checklist for staff, train others in event planning, or join a strategic planning session. If these tasks seem to take her out of her comfort zone, provide encouragement and support. Helping her find the “sweet spot” between current and potential abilities will help her grow.

Provide feedback to focus and inspire your staff. Let’s say Natalie loves planning so much that she offers to help students plan their culminating project presentations. As you observe her interact with students, you hear her say things like “Let’s do it this way” and “Here’s a better idea.” Should you call her aside and say, “Natalie, you’re making too many decisions for students instead of letting them make their own. I’d like to see you improve in this area.” Or should you say, “Natalie, I’d love for our students to develop their project planning and decision-making skills. Would you be willing to team with Linda to plan some coaching strategies to help students learn and practice these skills?” Which feedback is more likely to inspire and support Natalie in changing her approach? For most people, the second approach works best. See the Coaching My Staff section of Y4Y’s Human Resources course for ways to coach your staff (especially site coordinators) to program gold!

Recognize good work. Use formal and informal strategies to tell staff members their contributions are noticed and valued. For example, during employee reviews, be specific and give examples of what employees do well. Implement an employee recognition system to spotlight effort, innovation, problem solving and results. Recognize individual and team efforts. See Y4Y’s Employee Retention Training to Go for ideas you and other program leaders can use to keep staff engaged.

For more ideas on ways to treasure your staff and help them grow, see Y4Y’s new Human Resources course. To share your own ideas and success stories, leave a comment below. 

 


August 9, 2019

Did you ever wonder why there are so many idioms around sound financial decisions? “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” “A penny saved is a penny earned.” For generations, parents have talked about money when passing along life’s wisdom. But our complex world has moved past simple rhymes.

Your 21st CCLC parents may envision their children becoming first-generation college graduates, or simply fitting in after arriving here from another country. They understand the importance of planning, are dedicated to their children’s futures and know that money talks. Unfortunately, common sense may not be enough to navigate modern-day financial decisions and talk back

The Y4Y Building Financial Literacy Click & Go is a great resource for you to help children and families get to know the basics outlined through an international effort to improve personal financial literacy. Many states now include financial literacy in learning standards and curriculum. The Y4Y Financial Literacy Standards Overview and Crosswalk tool can be a guide for building these crucial concepts and life skills into your program as you support multiple academic disciplines. Adult financial literacy courses offer a perfect opportunity to engage parents. You can invite in-depth conversations around how to make smart financial decisions in a notoriously complex arena. Be sure to check out Y4Y’s Evaluating Financial Literacy Resources to become confident about sharing the right information.

“Money talks” just means that money makes things happen. Even if they’re not tomorrow’s Rockefellers, citizens who understand basic financial concepts — earning income, spending, credit and debt, saving and investing, and protecting and insuring — are better poised to participate in personal and public financial decisions. Give your families that voice to talk back.

 


August 9, 2019

Summer is the season for veteran and new grantees alike to ascend to 30,000 feet and take a broad view of their programs. On the heels of the U.S. Department of Education’s 2019 21st CCLC Summer Symposium, where leaders from 50 states gathered to move this exciting profession forward, here are “big picture” questions for all grantees to address:

Does your program vision statement reflect the sharpening focus on social and emotional learning? Social and emotional learning and building positivity among youth are high-priority areas for many 21st CCLC programs. How might a subtle revisiting of your vision statement trickle down to other components of program management?

Is collaboration the heart and soul of your program? You value the voices of your community partners and stakeholders at the planning table, but does your program provide students with ample opportunities to practice collaboration? The ability to collaborate with others is increasingly regarded as a valuable tool for professional success. How can you accommodate this skill-building priority?

Are you an experienced grantee starting a new program? You know better than most that out-of-school time programming is growing and evolving as a professional field. Refresh yourself on managing a 21st CCLC program from the ground up, and catch up on the latest regulations and wisdom around successful programs by attending the New Leaders Virtual Academy described below.

Are you a new grantee who’s worried about the deafening silence at 30,000 feet? Y4Y has a wealth of resources to help you maintain radio contact with experienced peers. Beginning August 13,  the New Leaders Virtual Academy will offer a live series of five interactive webinars to walk you through the crucial steps of program development, breaking down each step into manageable tasks. A certificate of completion for the Academy will be offered to those who attend the series. More important, you’ll emerge with a road map of available resources, connections to veteran professionals in the field, answers to your burning questions, and, best of all, companionship with fellow newcomers on the “new grantee” journey.

Whether or not you participate in the Academy, you can begin orienting yourself with the basics anytime. Budget three to four hours to take the Y4Y Introduction to Managing Your 21st CCLC Program course and explore some of its tools, like the Project Management Graphic Organizer and Managing Your 21st CCLC Program Diagram. If you don’t have a management background, these resources will give you a foundation in standard project management processes and help you manage critical tasks relevant to 21st CCLC programs. You can also review the 2018 Y4Y Virtual Institute for New 21st CCLC Grantees. This series of archived webinars is a great primer. Rest assured that the 2019 Academy sessions will be archived on the Y4Y website this fall.

Make Y4Y your partner in learning!