Unifying the Technical Assistance System for Maine’s Early Childhood Workforce
In late June, nearly 70 technical assistance (TA) professionals from a wide range of disciplines who support Maine’s diverse early childhood workforce gathered in Hallowell, ME for the rollout of Technical Assistance Competencies for Maine’s Early Childhood Workforce: the Process, the Product and the Plan. A technical assistance professional is an individual who provides targeted and customized supports to recipients of TA services through specific strategies or approaches, such as mentoring, coaching, consultation and peer-to-peer networks. These TA professionals adhere to varying regulations and standards and work within multiple settings with early childhood practitioners throughout Maine.
Competencies are a way to assess what an individual values or does not value; knows or does not know; and can do or cannot do. The development of Technical Assistance Competencies for Maine’s Early Childhood Workforce (PDF) supports an integrated, cross-system and cross-sector professional development system: a system whose ultimate goal is to provide high quality services to young children and their families. These competencies represent the collective efforts of several key stakeholders, thereby assuring that they reflect Maine’s unique system of early care and education and its diverse early childhood communities, programs and workforce.
A companion document, Technical Assistance Competencies for Maine’s Early Childhood Workforce Self-Assessment Checklist (PDF), assists TA professionals in assessing their skills within the five competency areas (professionalism, principles of adult learning, building relationships, the technical assistance process, and systems knowledge).
Linda Labas, M.Ed., CCIDS’ Early Childhood Coordinator and member of the Maine TA Competencies core work group, noted, “We reviewed many sources and know from our own work and experiences that the movement toward outcomes is driving our approaches to professional development.” These competencies were developed to unify Maine’s technical assistance system by the following:
- Supporting TA professionals in knowing about and understanding how to assist programs as they progress to higher levels of quality.
- Providing TA professionals with a research-based inventory of the dispositions, knowledge and skills necessary to work effectively in this role.
- Ensuring statewide consistency and understanding of the key components of quality TA service provision for the TA professional and the recipients of the TA services.
Labas also highlighted the influential role of implementation research on the development of Maine’s TA Competencies, “Training does have impact and outcomes – training is needed to build knowledge, training done well (using adult learning principles and a mix of strategies) does lead to skill development but what this research is saying is that just training without implementation supports such as coaching or consultation does not lead to practice change or successful use of a particular practice or curriculum.”
Technical Assistance Competencies for Maine’s Early Childhood Workforce and the companion Self-Assessment Checklist were developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Early Head Start/Child Care Partnership Grant to grantee Kennebec Valley Community Action Program. Other collaborators include Educare Central Maine; Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network with funding from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child and Family Services, Child Care Development Block Grant; and the University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Grant No. 90DD0005.