Early Learning Program Reflections and Learning in a COVID-19 Pandemic Year
Did you know?
Puget Sound Educational Service District operates the largest Head Start/Early Head Start program in the Northwest and the only model Educare early learning center in the region. PSESD’s Early Learning program that combines Head Start, Early Head Start and WA state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance program serves approximately 5,000 early learners and their families in King and Pierce Counties.
The 2020-21 Early Learning program year was different from prior years, as was almost every other aspect of the world, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As PSESD early learning staff navigated the flood of COVID related information, the focus remained on meeting the needs of the Head Start and ECEAP children, their families and the staff supporting them. During the pandemic, the early learning community was compelled to look for answers to questions that had never been asked, causing our work to sometimes seem reactionary. Yet, PSESD early learning staff committed time for reflection to gain understanding and adapt accordingly. Content teams reviewed data pertaining to their service areas, site staff shared reflections of what they were learning with one another and PSESD staff, Policy Council reviewed policies and COVID related impacts, and PSESD staff offered an ongoing feedback loop with sites navigating COVID challenges.
PSESD’s Early Learning program engages in an annual self-assessment in order to implement continuous quality improvement. To do this, the Self-Assessment team was tasked with assessing the quality of work by reaching out to service area teams supporting Head Start services. Teams reflected on the 2020-21 program year and asked three questions:
- What has worked well in your content area in response to COVID-19?
- What processes or practices would be beneficial to continue to use?
- What are major lessons learned during the pandemic year that will inform goal setting for the 2021-22 program year?
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