Family Child Care providers can find themselves feeling very isolated. This can make it difficult when they find themselves with a challenging situation, questions about policies, implementing the MELDS, or maybe questions around their environment. In Maine at this time, we are lucky to have a variety of options available to us for support. It can start with an online search, or accessing the variety of resources on this website, or asking a fellow provider for help. You can also join one of the many MRTQ PDN Communities of Practice offered each month.
What if you find you need more specialized support than those options provide?
Welcome to the first post in our series about the Technical Assistance offered through Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network (MRTQ PDN). Technical Assistance (TA) is the provision of targeted and customized support to help providers and staff develop or strengthen processes, knowledge application, or implementation of services to children and families. TA is provided through coaching, consultation, mentoring and peer-to-peer networking to providers and staff.
In Maine, you can request FREE Technical Assistance (TA) through consultation from MRTQ PDN by:
- Asking a question through phone or email
- Contacting the “Warm Line”
- Requesting On-site Consultation (OC)
Let’s look at what the “Warm Line” and “On-site Consultation” each provide and how each is accessed.
MRTQ PDN’s Warm Line provides preventative and nonemergency person-to-person support and resources. The Warm Line is NOT a hotline.
The Warm Line is support that is available Monday – Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (except for holidays). Contact the Warm Line by calling 1-844-209-5964 or email: email@example.com. All phone messages and emails will receive a response within one business day. The Warm Line Coordinator will be the initial contact. They will gather information from you to help identify your needs, at which point you may be connected to one of the Warm Line staff consultants.
The Warm Line is staffed by professionals with expertise in inclusive practices, disabilities, children’s health, social and emotional development, behavior, and early childhood mental health. These professionals can:
- Talk through an issue or problem with you.
- Provide you with resources and strategies that you can use in your program,
- Share information about other MRTQ PDN services that could support your program.
- Assist you in making connections to other community or national resources.
The Warm Line is available to:
- Family child care
- Child care centers
- Out-of-School time programs
- license -exempt practitioners
- Nursery schools
- Head Start
- Public Preschool
MRTQ PDN’s On-site Consultation (OC) isn’t a specialist coming into your program telling you what to do to fix the situation you contacted them about. It’s a working partnership where you and a designated District Coordinator (DC) problem solve together. You are recognized as the expert in your environment with knowledge that they can not replicate. The DC is bringing a new set of eyes and additional resources to support you. They will work with you to problem solve, so you are able to provide the best care you can. You get up to six on-site visits (currently virtual due to COVID restrictions) with an option for renewal based on mutual agreement that ongoing support is required to meet the developed quality improvement goals.
Supports offered are generally related to one or more of the Quality for ME standards:
|– Licensing Compliance |
– Program Evaluation – Staffing and Professional Development – Learning Environment/Developmentally Appropriate Practice
|– Family Resources |
– Family Involvement – Administrative Policies and Procedures – Authentic Assessment
Not sure if you’d ever use OC? Providers from across the state request on-site consultation for support on:
- Guidance on policies and procedures
- Arranging the environment
- Help with accreditation
- Improving family engagement
- Implementation of Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards
- Strategies for supporting children’s positive social and emotional development
- Problem-solving approaches to prevent expulsion
On-site Consultation is available to:
- Family child care programs • Child care centers • License-exempt practitioners • Head Start programs • Out-of-school time programs
On-site Consultation includes the following activities through mutual agreement between the DC (Technical Assistance Professional) and Consultee (Technical Assistance Partner):
- Meeting with owner/director/individual staff / Development and implementation of an On-site Consultation Plan / Tour of facility / Resource/information sharing / Consultation evaluation
Additional activities may include:
- Attending/facilitating staff/family/board/collaboration meetings / Assisting with referral to and consultation support from other educational and/or child/family serving agencies / Facilitating family involvement / Activities specific to the accreditation process / Review/assist with administrative/program materials / Professional development / On-site observation
If your program is not enrolled with Quality for ME (QRIS), you will be encouraged to enroll as part of the consultation process. The proposed requirement of all providers enrolling their program in Quality for ME in the proposed Family Child Care Licensing Rule is expected to still be there after adoption of the Rule into law. (*see our post on enrolling in Quality for ME)
Let’s look closer at what a Request for On-site Consultation (OC) involves…..
Providers request On-site consultation (OC) from MRTQ PDN through an online process.
- Visit the MRTQ PDN website https://mrtq.org/onsite/ and click on the link to the On-Site Consultation Request Form.
- Complete the online request and program profile, including reviewing and agreeing to the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).
- The MRTQ PDN Technical Assistance Manager will contact you to gather more information and assign a DC.
The remainder of this first post on TA will expose you to the 3 page OC “Request” process. FCCAM PLC worked through the process taking screenshots of each section. While screenshots lengthen the post we have found providers appreciate this type of walk through.
If you are logged in to MRTQ-PDN Registry you can request OC from this page ~
If you are not a member of the Registry now is the time to join. Being part of the Registry is expected to remain as a requirement when the new Family Child Care Licensing Rule is adopted into law. (*see our post on joining the Registry)
Clicking “Complete a Request” under “On-site Consultation” takes you to a MRTQ-PDN page that explains what a consultation is. You will access the 3 page request application next.
You start with the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which you need to sign to participate. You have to be the owner or program director to request OC and complete the Request Application. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about this MOA further into the process.
Click “Agree and Continue” to access the 3 page Request form. Again these are informational screenshots. They are not linked to the request form itself.
Submit and your OC Request is completed!
If you didn’t complete it correctly you’ll get this:
Completed successfully you see this:
You should also see a notice to Login and complete a Program Profile. This is more detailed information about your program that MRTQ PDN has to collect as part of the consultation request. If you do not complete the profile page from the link provided when you receive the “Thank you” message, you will get an email reminder of the need to do this from Jill Downs, Technical Assistance Manager, who serves as the initial point of contact at MRTQ PDN for all OC requests. The Program Profile needs to be completed within 3 days of your request submission to be valid.
Remember Technical Assistance through On-site Consultation is FREE and there to support providers in providing the best quality of child care they can!
**Providers and staff earn recognized professional development hours for their direct work with the DC (Technical Assistance Professional).
The next post in the series will explain more about entering OC and setting your support action plan up. We are working through that process now.