Issue

Stakeholder committees/workgroups

Rationale:

Stakeholder input into the ELGs strengthens the content of the ELGs and increases the likelihood that there will be "buy in" for the document among practitioners.

Recommendation(s):

States should engage a stakeholder committee to assist with the development process.

Considerations:

In planning for the stakeholder committee, states have several choices:

  • Role of the committee: The role of the committee can range from providing advice/guidance on the content of the document to actually writing the ELGs and/or other sections of the document. If stakeholder committees are involved in writing the ELGs, the group typically is broken down into smaller workgroups or subcommittees that address specific topics in order to make the writing process more efficient. It may be helpful to have committee members to chair/co-chair the workgroups/subcommittees and to assign a person from the leadership team to staff each of the workgroups/subcommittees.
  • Decision-making authority of the committee: The degree to which the stakeholder committee has the authority or "final say" in decisions about the ELGs varies from state to state. The lead agency may consider the committee to be an advisory committee and, therefore, maintain most of the decision-making authority for the document. State agencies may elect to make select decisions about the document (such as who the target audience is, the purpose of the document, the domains that will be used, etc.) and grant the committee decision-making authority for other decisions. Or state agencies may choose to have the stakeholder group make all decisions about the document. Lead agencies should clearly communicate the level of decision-making authority that committees have and specify which decisions will be made by the agency/leadership team to the stakeholder committee early in the development process. The state agency should communicate the extent to which committee decisions are considered to be final or binding versus those that are advisory.
  • Composition of the committee: One of the key functions of the committee is to ensure that different perspectives are represented during the development process, and a second function is to facilitate broad-based "buy in" for the document. Stakeholder committees play a vital role in ensuring that the content of the document is appropriate for diverse children served within the state. Therefore it is important that the committee include members who represent different perspectives, ranging from content experts to representatives from the target audiences. When forming the committee, states should give particular consideration to ensuring that the development process includes persons from groups that traditionally have been underrepresented in policymaking such as English Language Learners, children and families in poverty, and specific cultural groups who live in the state. Family members of children with disabilities can also make important contributions to the effort. It is important that persons who will be responsible for implementing the document are included in the development process and that persons with expertise related to children with disabilities are included. Examples of constituencies that can be represented on the committee include:
    • i. Staff from the lead agency/agencies who are not part of the core management team (such as content experts from within the department of education)
    • ii. Faculty from institutions of higher education
    • iii. Resource and Referral agency staff
    • iv. Training and technical assistance providers
    • v. Staff from the QRIS (if the state has one) or other agencies that might incorporate the ELGs into program requirements
    • vi. Administrators and teachers from early care and education programs
    • vii. Family childcare providers
    • viii. Parents and other family members
    • ix. Representatives from agencies with content expertise (such as the health department)
    • x. Persons with expertise in the development of children from diverse backgrounds (children with disabilities, English Language Learners, children from limited-income families, etc.)
    • xi. Resource persons who work with families (such as pediatricians, librarians, etc.)
    • xii. Policymakers
  • Size of the committee: Some states elect to convene a relatively small workgroup/committee while others create larger committees (some with 50 or more people).
  • Mechanism for coordinating work within the committee: It is important to specify how work will be coordinated within the committee. If the committee will be broken down into workgroups, the leadership team should clearly specify what content each workgroup will address, which parts of the document each group will work on (i.e., Are they just writing ELGs, or are they writing ELGs plus supporting materials within the document?), how decisions that affect all workgroups will be made, and a process for coordinating and approving the work of individual workgroups within the full committee. It is also helpful to set up a mechanism to ensure that the final product is consistent and coherent, particularly if different workgroups are writing individual sections of the document. It is important to agree upon the format for the document early in the process so that there will be consistency in what the workgroups develop. States find it helpful to provide each workgroup with a template to fill out so that the different sections of the document do not have to be reformatted when the sections are put together into one document. In states using stakeholder groups to write the ELGs, it may be helpful to engage a writer/editor to make changes/suggestions to increase the consistency and coherence of what the different workgroups write.

General considerations: Larger committees are less efficient and require additional staff and fiscal resources, but offer greater possibilities for different perspectives to be considered during the development process, and increase the number of persons available to support the dissemination of the ELG document. Work can also continue in larger committees even if one or more committee members must be absent from a committee meeting. Smaller groups are more efficient, and individual members may have more commitment to/investment in the project. Alternative means for gathering stakeholder input from different groups, such as surveys and focus groups, can be used if the state elects to have a smaller ELG writing committee but wants to include a wide variety of viewpoints in the development process.

Age-specific considerations: It is important the committee include persons with deep understanding of the particular age group being addressed. For infant-toddler ELG work it may be helpful to include greater representation from the medical community, IDEA Early Intervention, home-visitation programs, family childcare providers, and others who work closely with families of infants and toddlers. In committees working on preschool-age ELGs, it is important to make sure that the state's pre-kindergarten program (if there is one) is represented and that the committee includes persons from IDEA 619/Part B programs, and kindergarten programs.

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