Our Commitment to Self, Team, and Families
Dee Dee Parker Wright is the executive director of Jubilee JumpStart (JJS), a child development program in Washington, D.C. serving a diverse population of children and families. When JJS had to close its doors last spring, program staff immediately implemented practices to stay engaged with families.
Connecting with Families
During our four month closure, our team focused on 4 C’s—Calm, Caring, Connection, and Commitment. We used this framework for planning and decision-making, including our efforts to maintain meaningful family engagement.
For example, we set up a Facebook group to share, support, and connect with families and staff. We began offering a virtual family coffee hour. We also held an online weekly parent support meeting with the program’s mental health partner. Additionally, our reopening planning committee involved families in reviewing our new policies and procedures.
Our leadership team also used the four Cs of Calm, Caring, Connection, and Commitment as a framework for supporting teachers. Each leader "adopted" a classroom team and served as their close and frequent contact for administrative support. Our bi-weekly all staff virtual meetings included personal check-ins. During these moments of truth-telling and tears, teachers expressed loneliness and fears. In addition, we created a virtual movie club where participants viewed and discussed videos such as Michelle Obama's documentary "Becoming."
Deepening Our Commitments
As children, families, and staff returned to the center, anxieties were running high. A two week transition process allowed time to learn COVID-adapted procedures as well as practice daily mindfulness and self-care activities.
Throughout the re-opening transition, our focus was on our commitments to each other. Each day of the training period began with activities and conversations that focused first on a commitment to self, followed by a commitment to our teams, and we finished with a commitment to the children. In turn, this experience renewed the leadership’s commitment to our teaching staff and families, knowing they will meet children's needs with love, creativity, and strength.
Our focus on commitment helped us build trust with families as they returned to our program, As one parent expressed, "I don't even worry about Hailey while I am at work. I saw with my own eyes that Jubilee JumpStart is doing everything they said they would do."
Dee Dee Parker Wright is the executive director of Jubilee JumpStart (JJS), a child development program in Washington, D.C. serving a diverse population of children and families.