High-quality child care produces a stimulating, secure and loving atmosphere for the little one.

Focusing on children's wellbeing and ecological exposures in child care centers is Essential for several reasons: Since they display exploratory behaviors that put them in direct contact with contaminated surfaces, they're more likely to be vulnerable to some contaminants found. They're also less developed immunologically, physiologically, and neurologically and are more prone to the negative effects of toxins and chemicals. Children spend a whole lot of time in child care settings. Many babies and young children spend as many as 50 hours each week, in child care.

Nationally, 13 million children, or 65 percent of U.S. kids, spend some part of the afternoon in child care and at California alone, roughly 1.1 million children five decades or younger attend child care. In this exact same condition, many adults might also be subjected as roughly 146,000 employees work 40 hours or more a week child care centers. Child care environments include substances which may be harmful for kids. Recent studies suggest that lots of child care environments might contain pesticides, allergens, volatile organic compounds from cleaning agents and sanitizers, and other contaminants which may be toxic to children's wellbeing.

Nevertheless, little is understood about what environmental and chemical exposures they might be getting in these configurations. To fill this gap, we quantified. Outcomes of the study were reported on the California Air Resources Board. Our findings help inform policies to lower accidents to children, encourage training and workshops to educate child care providers about methods to lower children's environmental exposures (ex. Using integrated pest management to decrease pesticide usage ), and search for future research.

Washing Your Baby’s Clothes
Washing Your Baby’s Clothes
Washing Your Baby’s Clothes – How to do it Rightly
Washing Dishes
Washing Dishes
Cleaning up after oneself is an important life skill
Make a Bed
Make a Bed
It might be a dying art, but learning how to make a bed is a valuable skill.
Sweep a Floor
Sweep a Floor
Give a kid a broom, and you are likely to see dirt flipping everywhere except in a pile.
Mop a Floor
Mop a Floor
Be sure to give them instructions on how to mop different floor types you may have in your home.

Entrepreneurial Leadership In Early Education

Episode 162 – Child care is an entrepreneurial field. In this episode, Anne Douglass, the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, talks about the...

The post Entrepreneurial Leadership In Early Education appeared first on HiMama Blog - Resources for Daycare Centers.


Episode 162 – Child care is an entrepreneurial field. In this episode, Anne Douglass, the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, talks about the...

The post Entrepreneurial Leadership In Early Education appeared first on HiMama Blog - Resources for Daycare Centers.

Episode 162 – Child care is an entrepreneurial field. In this episode, Anne Douglass, the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, talks about the concept of entrepreneurial leadership and how it applies to all levels of the sector. She shares the goals of the Institute, the mindset required to become an entrepreneurial leader, the skills that leaders in the field should develop, and concrete steps that early educators can take themselves to improve their childcare programs!

Resources: 

  • Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation
  • Connect with Anne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Episode Transcript

Anne DOUGLASS:

People need to hear and understand what early [childhood] educators want to and are capable of doing. This kind of work to support leadership development really cultivates a deep passion and commitment to leading change from within the field.

Ron SPREEUWENBERG: 

Anne, welcome to the Preschool Podcast!

DOUGLASS:

Thank you, I’m happy to be here.

SPREEUWENBERG:

We are delighted to have on the show today Anne Douglass. She’s associate professor of early care education at UMass Boston, and also the founding executive director of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation. That sounds super important, based on all the conversations we’ve been having on the Preschool Podcast with so many guests. So, so excited to talk to you more about this today and the topic of entrepreneurial leadership training in early-childhood education. Let’s start out in learning about what got you into early-childhood education and why you’re devoting your career to this.

DOUGLASS:

When I graduated from college the first job I got was as a preschool teacher in a childcare center in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. And I absolutely fell in love with the field and the work with young children and families. And I stayed doing that work for almost two decades.

And what really kind of connected me from that work into the work I do now around leadership and innovation is I saw so much incredible leadership within the childcare sector, within the childcare workforce – talented, experienced people who’ve been doing this work for a long time. And yet to the outside world it was as if that leadership didn’t exist and/or was not even possible, within the realm of possibility.

So I encountered so many people who just didn’t see that that was a lever for change; that was a strength in this workforce. And so I’ve really kind of dedicated my whole career at this point to working to elevate that leadership, to support and strengthen it and to build an ecosystem more broadly that recognizes it at the kind of research policy and practice level.

SPREEUWENBERG:

Cool. And in particular you’ve done some work around entrepreneurial leadership. So we’ve talked a lot on the Podcast; I talk a lot about leadership in early-childhood education. It’s so important. And like you said, so prevalent. There’s so many awesome stories about leadership in early-childhood education. But what does entrepreneurial leadership mean?

DOUGLASS:

So, entrepreneurial leadership is really intended to refer to leadership for change, for leadership that’s about finding better ways to solve problems and to grow and strengthen the field and to better serve children and families. So, entrepreneurial is about that just passionate pursuit of a better way to meet the needs of children and families.

And one of the things that I love – there’s actually several things I love about the idea of the kind of skills and competencies and values of entrepreneurial leadership – is that anyone can be an entrepreneurial leadership. You don’t have to have a job title. You might – you might be a program director – but you also might be a teacher or a family childcare provider. You don’t need a title to be an entrepreneurial leader. That’s one thing.

And the other thing is that a lot of the birth-to-[age]-five early care and education sector is small businesses. It’s either sole proprietorships – home family, home-based childcare – or small businesses. And so there’s very much an entrepreneurial kind of center to all of that just from the business and the marketing perspective.

So because of the connotations for innovation and change and because this is a small business sector that’s made up of a lot of entrepreneurs who don’t always think of themselves as entrepreneurs yet when they do they become more skilled and more empowered to lead change and quality.

SPREEUWENBERG:

Cool, that makes a lot of sense. The thing I like about it is when I think entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial I do think about action and getting things done. And so that’s a pretty cool connotation of that, too. So, one thing that you cover through the Institute for Early Care and Education is the theory of change. Can you talk to us a little bit about what that is?

DOUGLASS:

So, our theory of change is really… it’s that the centerpiece of all of what we do at the Institute. And it’s also at the center of the curriculum, the specific curriculum that we’ve developed to support the development of entrepreneurial leaders. So, I’m going to start there.

And it’s focused on three kind of core areas. And one of the first ones is developing an entrepreneurial leadership mindset. The second is to cultivate a set of skills and knowledge about leading change and improvement. And then the third is equipping people with a set of concrete strategies and steps for actually implementing that plan and supporting people to… again, back to your points about the kind of bias towards action. We are very focused on action, taking action and equipping people to do that.

And what I would say is really we’ve found in the research we’ve done on the educators who participated in our programs is that that mindset piece is really the foundation for everything. And if we don’t really help to cultivate people’s mindset as a leader then it’s really hard to kind of have other things take hold.

SPREEUWENBERG:

Yeah, I know, that’s a conversation we’ve had on the Preschool Podcast as well, even just speaking to teachers in the classroom and mindset being sort of the first critical foundational piece. And so tell us a little bit more about just, like, what is the institute? And who goes and participates in this institute? And how does it work?

DOUGLASS:

So, our institute consists of a core set of entrepreneurial leadership development programs. And I’ll give you some examples of those because that really addresses the question you ask. And then hand-in-hand with that we conduct research about the leadership development and impact of early educators. So we see those two things as really interconnected: building an evidence base about what works and also being able to develop evidence that might guide recommendations for policies and systems so they can better support this leadership.

So, for our programs, for example this spring we just graduated five cohorts of educators – about 20 educators in each cohort – so about 100 educators went through our leadership program. And we have some specialization within a couple of different pathways. So we have a couple of programs that’s really kind of our core “leadership for change” model.

And the people who participate in that are… they can be, they might be program directors, childcare center directors; they might be teachers, infant-toddler preschool teachers, early intervention specialists working with children birth-to-[age]-three and their families, family childcare providers. So it’s a really diverse kind of cross-early [education] mixed delivery system representation of educators and public school pre-[kindergarten] teachers.

And then we also ran a couple of cohorts of our specialized Small Business Innovation Center training. And that’s for leaders who are running – own or run – and administer childcare businesses. And so there’s a real focus within that leadership component on some of the business practices and how those can intersect with improving quality.

So, those are the main kind of pathways. So, really we serve people who are across the state of Massachusetts, people who are right in the city of Boston where we’re located or around Boston. And we’re also working with an entity in the state of Maryland to take our model down there and kind of adapt it and run a cohort in Maryland, as well. So we’re starting to kind of look outside of Massachusetts with this model.

SPREEUWENBERG:

How long have you been delivering this?

DOUGLASS:

We started in 2012. And we started with a federal grant – the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Fund – and our state kind of invested in this as a kind of advanced leadership pathway for experienced frontline early educators in the field. There’s really… what’s interesting about our field when it comes to professional development is there’s a lot of stuff at kind of the entry level 101 – which is very needed – but there isn’t a lot at the more advanced level.

So people have been in this field for 10 and 20 years, people who maybe are directors or owners or they might be working directly with children and families and loving it but not feeling that there’s a professional pathway for them to kind of take their career and use their expertise and have a greater impact with their work.

SPREEUWENBERG:

Yeah, that’s a good point, the continuous learning piece. You always want to be learning and developing yourself. And certainly it’s great to see those opportunities. What about folks coming out and one of these cohorts? Do ever hear any feedback about how they’ve used what they’ve learned through the Institute?

DOUGLASS:

We hear lots of feedback; we have a lot of continued engagement. We run a leadership and innovation network for all the alums of our programs. We have several hundred people in that network. And we also conduct periodic surveys to systematically collect information. So, we know quite a bit and what we’ve found is that our graduates are out there really being change agents in the field and at many levels.

We have people who are very active in policy and advocacy work around issues like compensation and revisions to kind of state systems like QRIS [Quality Rating and Improvement System]. We have graduates who have had a real passion about a particular kind of instructional component of early ed, like STEM learning, and so developed a model school or program for young children. And kind of in a very entrepreneurial way kind of started up a new innovative kind of preschool or early-childhood program. So we have some alums who are doing that.

And we have others who are really innovating in the classroom, trying to design new approaches or ways to address specific needs. For example, we have an alum who developed an app that she uses with families and kids around cultivating children’s singing and language development in kind of multicultural contexts.

So there’s a lot of really interesting work going on. We started up this year [and] piloted what we call “Innovation Sandbox”, which is an opportunity for our alums who want some additional support to kind of accelerate their innovation, to come together and get some of the kinds of supports and resources to map out some of their next steps so that they can continue to develop their ideas and test them and refine them.

SPREEUWENBERG:

I love this. Why do folks typically come to the institute? Like, what’s inspiring them? How do they find out about it? What really gets them to say, “Hey, I want to go and be part of this program”?

DOUGLASS:

We have a lot of networks with educators and some professional groups and associations and advocacy groups across the states. So, we kind of put out the word as broadly as we possibly can and through our social media channels to let people know about opportunities. And for many of our programs getting into them is actually competitive because there’s more people who want to get in than we have spaces for. So, we maintain waiting lists and go back to those.

I think for many people because there isn’t a lot of this kind of leadership development out there we attract people who’ve been in the field for a while and are really ready for something. They often come in and tell us how discouraged they’ve been that they’ve been taking the same training over and over because they have to fulfill an annual training requirement so there’s nothing new offered.

So, people really come with I think a lot of pent-up hunger for being able to do something really where they can tap the expertise they have. They have a lot of insights about the persistent challenges in their work and this is an opportunity for them to gain a set of skills and relationships and networks that can support them to try something new and take their own practice and their own leadership to the next level.

SPREEUWENBERG:

And do you find that some of the people coming into the program have a desire before they even come in to want to make some of this more broad-strokes changes to the entire field of early-childhood education, perhaps even beyond their own role or their own program that they work in day-to-day?

DOUGLASS:

We see a real diversity in kind of at what level people think they want to make change when they enter the program. And a lot of times it’s very local and it’s their classroom or their home-based program. And one of the things… we offer coursework and content on things like policy and systems change and we often hear from educators at the beginning that they don’t think that’s something they’re interested in.

And by the end they’re often just really mobilized to be thinking at both the local level and at the systems level and looking at how they can take the expertise they have from, really, where they’re doing their most direct work and take that out to a systems or a policy level. So I think for many people they don’t actually come in thinking that’s what they’re going to do but they find a real passion for that as a piece of what they’re interested in.

SPREEUWENBERG:

Cool. And, in your view, do you think that the early-childhood education workforce – early-childhood educators – are the key to unlocking change in the field of early-childhood education and improvement in the field?

DOUGLASS:

I do. I think, for me, what I feel is a key insight from the work that I’ve done is that if we continue to have people from kind of outside coming in and telling educators what to do, when those people leave things go back to the way they were. That’s really not how change works; it’s not how improvement works. And there’s a lot of science and evidence about that. So, I think that’s a really important piece of it.

But the other piece of it that I think is often… really, people need and understand what early educators want to and are capable of doing is the fact that there really is… we’ve found that this kind of work to support leadership development really cultivates a deep passion and commitment to leading change from within the field.

And that one of our alums said once that it’s like an army of us has been created, referring to all the graduates of this program. And just that energy and mobilization that anyone who comes to our annual events where all our leaders are presenting their leadership, you can just feel it and it’s really exciting. And I think it is how we’re going to move this field forward, professionalize it, however you want to define it. And so to me that’s really one of the most exciting things that’s happening in our field right now.

SPREEUWENBERG:

Awesome. And where do you think we are on that curve of improving and progressing the field of early-childhood education? Are we in the early stages? Are we making a lot of progress? What are your feelings on that?

DOUGLASS:

I think we’re both making progress and in the early stages. I think power to the profession I think has had an impact. A lot of the educators that we work with have found ways to be involved and weigh in and have their voices heard in that process. And so I think it is really important for the field to professionalize and to recognize and to value the diversity in our field, which I think has made some of that professionalization feel like we don’t all think the same way – and that’s okay. But that’s what part of the process is, is coming to some consensus about how to professionalize the field.

And I think the compensation issue is huge. There’s been a lot of push around credentials and not an equal push around upping compensation. And so I think that that we’re starting to see more and more attention to the fact that you cannot separate those things. They have to be addressed together.

SPREEUWENBERG:

Yeah, that totally makes sense. And in addition to early-childhood educators themselves pushing for change, [are there] any other key things that need to happen to help mobilize teams on systemic issues like compensation and early-childhood education?

DOUGLASS:

So, yes, that’s a very big question. We have a number of our leaders who have focused their energies on things like compensation and professional credentials. And I think it’s important. It involves a lot of people; it involves public; it involves parents and families. And thinking about public investment, about public-private partnerships, about diverse stakeholders coming to the table to come up with solutions.

And I think there are probably multiple solutions. There’s many ways to think about strategies – locally and nationally and systemically – for, how do we address this issue where compensation is not meant to [be] kind of aligned to the complexity of the work and the training that’s required?

SPREEUWENBERG:

Totally. Anne, what is one of your biggest, personal learnings in your role as the founding executive director of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, over your time in that position?

DOUGLASS:

The first thing that comes to my mind is something I learned through the first kind of pilot years and cohorts of this leadership program that I said we started in 2012, which is that it takes more than a standalone leadership program to cultivate leadership in this field and that we really need to build an ecosystem so people can engage in leadership development and then they can access ongoing and continued support in the field for them to exercise that leadership and to have the impact they want.

So, I think, for me it really points to the importance of system change and thinking about how we embed leadership support at all levels of the system. We can reorient the way we deliver professional development and quality improvement services to cultivate leadership. And right now I think we often miss an opportunity to cultivate leadership through those systems.

SPREEUWENBERG:

Awesome, thanks. And hopefully we have some listeners right now on the Podcast who can help enable that ecosystem and that change. So, you heard it here from Anne that we need everybody to be part of this change and I couldn’t agree more. And it’s been amazing having you on the Podcast [Anne]. If you want to leave our guests with somewhere where they can get in touch with you or find out more about the institute, where can they go?

DOUGLASS:

Well, they can go to our website, that’s a great place to start. And if they just put into a search bar – they just put in the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at UMass Boston – they will find our website [https://www.umb.edu/earlyedinstitute].

 

SPREEUWENBERG:

Very cool. And what about you? What if I want to get in touch with you directly because you’re doing so many cool things?

DOUGLASS:

You can send me an e-mail and my e-mail address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SPREEUWENBERG:

Anne, thank you so much for joining us on the Preschool Podcast today. It’s been wonderful having you.

DOUGLASS:

Great, thank you!

The post Entrepreneurial Leadership In Early Education appeared first on HiMama Blog - Resources for Daycare Centers.


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