Search
CCA Logo/Homepage link

Strengthening Family and Community Engagement through Brain Science

February 25, 2022

shutterstock_2000247290

Vroom®, a national program, helps families support children’s learning during everyday moments and routines with free, science-based tips and tools. Across the United States, Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies are reaching families with the science of early brain development and brain-building resources that get families excited about boosting their children’s learning.

CCR&Rs frequently express how simple it is to fold the brain-building resources into their existing programs and outreach to families, providers, and community partners. Further, CCR&Rs, who share Vroom with families, report improvement in their agency’s family and community engagement practices.

Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) recently had an opportunity to hear Viki Palmer and Renesha Lee, Family Engagement Specialists at Community Child Care Solutions in New Jersey, share how their agency is empowering families with brain-building tips and tools. Community Child Care Solutions is a member of CCAoA’s Vroom Community of Practice.

In 2019, Community Child Care Solutions partnered with Child Care Aware® of America to activate Vroom® in two counties of New Jersey.  How have you integrated Vroom into your programs and outreach services?

Community Child Care Solutions integrated Vroom by introducing the agency’s staff who works with families, providers, and community partners to Vroom, resulting in 95% of these staff members having an increase in knowledge on early brain science and Vroom resources as well as identifying strategies for integrating Vroom into their work.

What would you say to other agencies who are considering activating Vroom in their community to engage families?

For agencies that are considering activating Vroom into their community to engage families, we would encourage them to go for it with a positive attitude! It’s important to know your audience and meet families where they are.

What have been the most beneficial ways to introduce your staff to Vroom and equip them to share early brain science and resources with families and providers?

The most beneficial way that we found to be most helpful to introduce staff to Vroom and equip them to share early brain science was through departmental staff meetings rather than one big agency staff meeting. This helped us to talk about Vroom in a more intimate setting and discussion. The staff was able to ask questions freely without feeling they are taking up time. By showing a video and passing around tip cards, our staff got a better understanding of what Vroom is all about.

CCR&Rs, other organizations, and community stakeholders are trusted messengers for sharing valuable messages and resources with families.  How has your agency collaborated with community partners and stakeholders to reach families with early brain science and brain building resources?

Community Child Care Solutions collaborated with community partners and stakeholders to reach families with early brain science and brain building resources by meeting with community partners through one-on-one meetings, presentations, and email correspondence introducing Vroom. Through those interactions, we’ve successfully provided information on Vroom resources and its benefits for early brain development and family relationship building. Community partners have been able to then share what they’ve learned about Vroom with their families.

Vroom values meeting parents and caregivers where they are with messages and resources that are positive and empowering, attainable, accessible, and grounded in brain science.  How has Community Child Care Solutions integrated Vroom into its program and services to reach families?

Community Child Care Solutions integrated Vroom into our programs and services to reach families by meeting families where they are. This includes staff and family engagement specialists attending family and community events and sharing Vroom resources. We’ve invited families with children to the agency’s monthly Parent Cafés, sharing child development information with parents while including Vroom Tips.

What method of sharing Vroom with families has been the most effective?  What has been the most fun and innovative way that you have shared Vroom?

The method that has been the most effective, fun, and innovative in sharing Vroom with families is through our agency’s social media page including Instagram and Facebook. Using those platforms helps us reach families where many of them are, which is social media. Many families find social media as a quick and accessible way to interact and receive different information.Tip Tuesday (2)

Describe how families respond when your agency introduces Vroom and its brain building resources to them.  What have been some “aha moments” from families that you have engaged?

Community Child Care Solutions received positive feedback from families when introduced to Vroom. One piece of feedback included the “Everyone Has What It Takes to Be a Brain Builder” video in which families noted that the video was heartfelt. Families also were excited about the Vroom-by-text daily activities tips. They mentioned how it was a super convenient feature to have for their busy schedule.

Share with us a memorable moment of sharing Vroom with a family.

One memorable moment of sharing Vroom occurred at a Hurricane Ida event. There was a woman who was in desperate need to help a neighbor who had several children. She expressed that her neighbor had issues keeping the children engaged while completing her daily chores around the house. After learning about the Vroom app as well as seeing tip cards, she was relieved that she finally found the perfect tool to help out a friend.

_thumb_44721

How has Vroom made an impact on families in your community? 

Vroom positively impacted families in our community by sharing brain building activities with families, especially during the beginning COVID-19 pandemic. During that period of time, families reported that they were isolated from their families and friends, and they were excited to have received daily activity tips to engage with their children.

What is one of your favorite Vroom Tips to share with families?

One of our favorite Vroom Tips to share with families is “Where are you?” By asking their child about their name as well as others around them, it helps them pay attention to their surroundings. It also helps to build a stronger bond between friends/family by having the child recognize them. This tip is especially important now because people have been isolated from one another for over a year, due to COVID-19.


Vroom Tip: Where Are You?

Ask your child, “Where is (child’s name)?” and help them learn to point to themself. Ask them next about you, “Where is __(and say your own name)?” If they don’t know, point to you. Then ask them about the other people with you.

Brainy Background: Learning to name the people in their life is an important aspect of understanding and making sense of their world. Your child won’t tire of this game easily and neither will your friends and family, who appreciate being known and cared about.

Vroom is a great resource for early childhood professionals as well in the classroom and to support their family engagement efforts.  How are you utilizing Vroom with early childhood professionals in your community?

We are utilizing Vroom with early childhood professionals in our community by integrating Vroom resources in outreach. We’ve shared physical Vroom materials with family child care providers to implement in their program as well as share with their families enrolled in their program. In the future, we would love to go back to sharing physical materials, videos, and speaking at local directors' meetings again. 

Since 2019, your agency has continued to integrate Vroom into its outreach to engage families around early brain science and share brain building tools to support children’s learning.  What tips do you have for other agencies looking to sustain Vroom through their programs and services?

One tip we would share with other agencies is to do your research. There are so many ways to engage families so do not feel discouraged if your first attempt does not end well. Whether through social media, post cards, flyers, or PowerPoint, there is always a way to conduct outreach.  

Community Child Care Solutions is the child care resource for families, child care professionals and the community in Somerset Middlesex counties in New Jersey. Community Child Care Solutions is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to children, their families, and child care professionals through education, advocacy, referrals and access to financial assistance.

Sign up now to join our Vroom Community of Practice for CCR&Rs. Visit growyoungbrains.org for more brain-building resources.

Picture1-3

Renesha Lee, BA

Renesha is currently the Family Engagement Specialist at Community Child Care Solutions. She has 4+ years of experience working with children and families and is currently continuing her education in school counseling.

Picture2-1

Viki Palmer, BA, MS, IFS EÒ

Viki is currently the Family Engagement Specialist with Community Child Care Solutions. Her experience and specialty include child and adolescent development, family and community engagement, and the human service field.

Topics: Family & Community Engagement

Kandi Novak

Written by Kandi Novak

Kandi Novak is the Technical Assistance Specialist for the Vroom Partnership initiative at Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA). Her work focuses on providing technical assistance and training to child care resource and referral agencies on integrating science-based resources and tools that promote early brain development into their outreach and services to families, child care programs, and community partners. Kandi brings experience in child care resource and referral, early childhood mental health, and early childhood education along with a BA in Psychology and a MA in Human Development and Family Studies.