Policies are a necessary part of an educational community. A Policy can be considered something that can be instituted to guide the center, children, families or staff. The creation of a policy can protect or preserve members of the early childhood community. Every policy and procedure will have a different implementation strategy, reason and reaction from the audience. Here are a few things to consider when implementing a policy or even a change within your program.
When considering implementing a policy consider the Five W’s of Policy Creation:
Who– The audience(s) the policy is intended for. Not only the people who need to adhere to the policy, but those who must also act on or describe the policy.
What– The process of identifying the need, planning a course of action, enforcement criteria, and continue monitoring. These steps help define your policy.
When– How quickly will the policy change be enforced? In some cases immediately is the answer, but perhaps there is a longer timetable due to training and education surrounding the need for change.
Where– It is important to find a home for the new policy. Perhaps it is a memo with signature line, blurb in a newsletter, or new section in a handbook. Communication around the change is imperative to ensure all audience members receive the message.
Why– In order to help process the need for a policy or change, there needs to be a why. By taking the time to define the why, we can take the time to help those who may avoid the change.
Possible things to include in a policy and the messaging surrounding it?
Responsibilities: The audience needs to understand what is being required in order to meet the expectations of the policy.
Implementation process: The audience needs time to understand how to best adopt the new practices, ask questions and find resources. By defining the process, you help them to understand their role in the implementation.
Accountability practices: The audience needs to know what happens if they do not follow the procedures or protocol laid out in the policy.
Positive Messaging: The policy should have a POSITIVE focus, rather than a negative one. Think of how the policy sounds if it had to do with you, your family or your child and how you’d receive the information.
Important Factors in Policy Implementation:
Be CONSISTENT in the enforcement and messaging.
Be CLEAR in your policy’s verbiage and messages.
Know your WHY so others can begin to understand.
COMMUNICATE clearly and often during the implementation process.
Be ACCESSIBLE before, during, and after the change for support.
Find SUPPORT in others to help initiate the change.
Ask for HELP from others in the field, board of directors, administrators, or even CCAoNH.