Jennifer Barnes is the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Specialist at the Regina Coeli Child Development Center. The RCCDC has 19 centers in 5 Parishes throughout southeast Louisiana with many of the centers in very rural areas and several in metropolitan areas. They also have several partnerships with local public schools, a home-based Pre-K program, a dual language program, a new childcare partnership, Early Head Start, and the Pregnant Women’s Program. The non-profit serves 1374 Head Start students, 288 Early Head Start students, and 28 Pregnant Mothers.
The center began implementing ReadyRosie in 2017 and from the beginning, Jennifer was intentional about implementing it in a way that made the most sense for their program structure.
“Our family advocates are our Ready Rosie ‘teachers.’ Because our family advocates have close relationships with the families we serve, we’ve found it easier to use this approach.”
ReadyRosie sends out weekly content but the ability to customize that content within the Share platform allows the community to partner on a deeper level. Because of their proximity to families and teachers, at Regina Coeli Child Development Center, the Family Advocates are best suited to use the Share platform to curate content for families.
“Family advocates send customized playlists based on parents needs or requests, as well as with input from the teachers regarding lesson plans or goals set for the individual child.”
We know from research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Education that, “The amount of leadership support for the implementation of ReadyRosie was significantly associated with schoolwide usage rates and with participation in a Live PD.” Leadership responsiveness, readiness, and organization are essential for starting with fidelity. That said, we are also aware that there are many challenges that come with doing meaningful family engagement. Here are a few ways that Jennifer stays inspired as a leader:
“I gain personal inspiration as a leader at my agency through a few simple reminders. First, I live in, raise children in, and believe in the communities we serve. I spend time in these communities, I eat my lunch there, get to know people, attend coalition meetings, and so on. I love our communities. They are home, and they deserve the best. In addition, I work with the MOST AMAZING people on Earth. I work with people that give their hearts and souls to the kids and families in our program. They inspire me, it never fails… when I start to feel bogged down, or get the blues about something, one of the amazing people I work with reminds me of why I’m here and why I truly love what I do. I couldn’t imagine not sharing my days with these people. They are the best men and women I’ve ever met.”
Everyone draws inspiration from different places but without a doubt we know it’s essential to surround yourself with adults (and children!) who can remind you of why you do what you do, provide you with compassion, and support you when you need it!
Jennifer Barnes at a family engagement event called the “Healthy Blue Day of the Young Child.” “Modeled after the NAEYC Day of the Young Child, this was a community event that was all about providing fun learning opportunities for children and their families.”