Sustaining Gains

The seven steps outlined below may be used as a starting point to design a process for sustainability planning and implementation. Your state’s process will be unique and should be connected to its early childhood vision and goals. We recommend that sustainability planning be incorporated into strategic planning and implementation. 

  1. Assemble the sustainability planning team. Consider a balanced team that includes key staff from one or more public early learning agencies, as well as private partners who will work in collaboration to develop the plan. 
  2. Clarify your vision, mission, and guiding principles and confirm a shared understanding of them as the foundation for sustainability planning.
  3. Establish criteria to determine what to continue, modify, or eliminate, and analyze current programs, policies, and systems. Use data to inform this work. 
  4. Create options based on the vision and analysis, and determine sustainability strategies.
  5. Identify the essential collaborations and partnerships needed to support and carry out the sustainability strategies. 
  6. Develop and follow through on action steps. 
  7. Monitor and evaluate implementation of the sustainability plan in cooperation with your collaborators and partners, modify as needed, and document and communicate your sustainability successes. In other words, apply the basics of continuous quality improvement in a deliberate manner. 

The final sustainability plan should include careful explanation of the goals and purpose of what is being sustained, an evaluation of the current context and criteria that informed decisionmaking, identification of options considered and selected, engagement with stakeholders, and an ongoing mechanism for reviewing progress on implementation and making plan modifications as needed.