Young children develop in the context of their families, other caregivers, and communities. To promote healthy growth and development from birth to school age, successful early care and education programs must address the diverse needs of children, families, and communities. This typically requires partnership across multiple service systems, especially to meet the needs of children who face risks to their development. Effective collaboration draws on the strengths of partnering programs in the community to promote a seamless system of high quality early care and education services for children birth to age 5, linkages to necessary health and social services, and partnerships with families. New alliances always require relationship building. Often potential partners have to be willing to move out of their comfort zones to come to agreement.
WELS was built to be used by sectors and across sectors to support a program. It provides the data and information to build on the strengths of a program as determined by standards/assessments and the tools used by sectors to build capacity, share information and work together to build on these strengths as they collectively provide support to the program and to each other to support children and their families. It provides a central location for supports who truly want to make a difference by working together to support programs for young children.
The WELS System allows all supports to be recognized and used to identify enrollment for QRIS, Head Start or other quality efforts. Information about a program includes support type, checklists and quality efforts in the activity log, in which you can also identify support provided to a staff member. The various supports can use WELS to not only identify support type, but also the uses of assessments and checklists for supports like QRIS, Head Start, Early Intervention, Pre-K, Accreditation, Licensing or any kind of support that needs to be documented and measured. This is done by associating the support with the assessments and checklists used to measure and guide targeted quality improvements.
The beauty of WELS is that each sector can document their work – assessments, checklists, staff support, classroom information and quality efforts and notes – in one central location. This information then can be aggregated to show the collective support and impact on a program’s quality efforts and how each of the sectors were able to support the program individually and collectively.
Here are some of the WELS tools that help support building capacity in programs:
- Enrollment: Identifies children by cross sector support type.
- Assessments: Provides program and site assessment tools by cross sector support type.
- Rooms: Includes individual classroom support, which can be identified by cross sector support.
- Staff: includes education and training, staff notes.
- Checklists: Used for standards for QRIS, accreditation or other quality efforts, like early intervention, family support and health and social services.
- Funding: Recorded by support type for professional development, program support and even for a quality improvement plan task. The Funding reports have filters for all the support provided to a program by support type, purpose and time frame.
One of the biggest benefits to cross sector collaboration is the Quality Improvement Plan. For each program and the various supports that are provided with on site visits, each sector support staff can document their time and type of support provided as well as the funding to support the task and additional notes.
Quality Improvement Plan
Quality Improvement Plan: Provides one centralized site plan including all cross sector supports. Both the provider and the technical assistance staff can use this QIP to create and update action plans. Having the different support efforts documented in one place makes it easier for a provider to see the connections, improves time management, and allows more intentionality in their efforts.
The QIP also includes Professional Development Plans so any staff education and training needed to build capacity can be part of the quality improvement documentation.
The QIP also includes individual notes, files that can be uploaded, and any funding that has been assigned to an individual task.
Notes and Activity Log: Documents what is happening at the program by the provider and the technical assistance supports (TAS) based on support type. This lets everyone that works on a program share information and build on each other’s work.