Why is it so important for programs to have values? When we look at values for our personal lives we understand that they express who we are and what we believe. We’ve gotten these from our families as children, from our current home live, our church live, and through our educational life. Our values outline what we think is important.
The same is true for our programs. We must design ways to decide on core values that we want to guide our program. To do this, we must think about the following:
- What we want our programs to stand for
- How we want to treat the children in our care
- How we treat the children in our care – how is this different from how we should and want to treat them?
- How we treat parents
- How we feel we should treat parents
- How we interact as a group of adults working side by side every day
- How we should interact as a group adults who work side by side every day
- How we define success in our program
- How we want to be seen by our community
These are things our professional community must figure out together. It’s important to think about how you want your program to look and be in the community — How you want to stand out among other programs.
It’s probably best to do this in a staff meeting. If you have a mission statement, this would be a good place to start. Read the mission statement together and talk about all the values that are represented in it. You might begin by brainstorming all the values that are important to each of you. Write these down and decide which ones are common among all of you. Then ask the questions about values you believe your program should have together. Cover the values that you find above. Let folks brainstorm these things and label what they think your program staff should do. You may find that on some of these items you will need to have more training — usually how we treat children and parents. At this first discussion you just want to come up with the important values that you want to end up with, even though training may need to follow.
Have staff brainstorm items that you write on chart paper. As you do ask the questions above to make sure you’re covering everything. You may also think of others. After you’re finished with this, give each staff person 3 sticky dots. Ask them to go put the dots by the three things that are most important to them. Count the # of dots by each item and write the number beside each valve. Then write these values on another piece of chart paper. Tell staff you want to make sure you have covered all the important things. Add other things that might be needed. The biggest question is: “What Behaviors provide concrete evidenced of your shared values. When you incorporate each of these, what will your program look like?
Begin to implement these values and at upcoming staff meetings, analyze how you’re doing and what things you need to work on. As you continue to work together, you will begin to see that others are seeing you differently. Parents are more happy with the work you are doing. Parents even want to get involved in great ways. When this happens you begin to see yourself as a beacon for change in your community. You will begin to know that you are making worthwhile changes.