Things are changing for the early childhood community in Ohio! The state of Ohio will be receiving nearly seventy million dollars through the Early Learning Challenge Grant – the most of all of the states that were awarded the grant.
One of the changes that will impact many early childhood programs in our area is the requirement to become Step Up To Quality star-rated in order to receive subsidized funds from the state. If you are currently using the swipe card system this means your program must become star-rated! Strengthening programs through systems like Step Up To Quality support our most precious resource: young children. Children whose parents use subsidized care are identified as “at risk,” and it is one of the aims of the Early Learning Challenge Grant that every single one of these children be cared for in a quality program. I love this! But I also understand that change is hard, even when it’s a good thing.
At a forum 4C held last week to discuss the implications of Ohio’s Early Learning Challenge Grant, I looked around a room full of early childhood program owners and administrators and identified four different kinds of responses. About 10 percent mirrored my feelings: these directors were excited, enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to get started. Another 10 percent had their arms crossed, deep frowns on their faces and looked like they felt they would never be on board with becoming star-rated. The remaining 80 percent fell into two camps: those who looked like they were willing to give the new idea some thought, or those who were going to wait and see what happened before they decided what to do.
This isn’t so different from the way we respond to change in other areas of our lives. There are very few people that can embrace and love change, some that can be referred to as “early adopters” of change, some that are “late adopters” and a small percentage that are so resistant that they will never change. As a leader in your program, how do you feel you respond to change? How would you like to respond? Your staff or fellow teachers will fall into these different categories, too, and may need your support.
People who are already “sold” on the changes that are coming with the Early Learning Challenge Grant won’t need much support. The truly resistant may demand a great deal of your time and support, but they will probably never change. I encourage you to devote most of your time and energy to your early adopters. Once they’re on board, your “wait and see” staff will probably embrace the changes, as well. Strive to be patient! Change is hard for everyone, but this is really one of those times where everyone will benefit, too.