Step by Step: Elevate Program Plans for Child Care Centers and Group Child Care Homes

This page will help you develop an Elevate Program Plan for your child care center or group home.

If you have a family child care home, use this page instead.

1. Reflect on where your program is right now 

Think about your child care program as it is right now. What are its strengths? What are its growth areas? Do you have any data you can use? Consider:

  • Feedback from families
  • Feedback from staff
  • Information about the children in your care
  • Reflections from self-assessment tools or program observations
  • Your program’s financial situation 
  • Your program’s licensing or health inspection reports   

Use these self-reflection tools to evaluate your program

OEC worked with NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) to develop these tailored tools for child care centers.

2. Decide what you want your program to become

Now, focus on what you’d like to improve. Are there skills you’d like your staff to learn? Do you want to expand or upgrade your facility? Don’t be afraid to think big at this stage.

Elevate offers resources for child care providers and across 6 focus areas. When you choose one, you’re making a commitment to your program, your staff, and the families you serve.

3. Set SMART goals 

SMART Goals will help make your plan actionable and measurable. Think about how you could break up your big picture goals from step 2 into concrete SMART goals. Remember: your Program Plan has to include 1 to 3 SMART goals.

SpecificSpecific goals are clear and well-defined. They include what is going to be achieved, by whom, when, and where.
MeasurableMeasurable goals have clear markers of success, both for the end result and for milestones along the way.
AttainableAttainable goals are reasonable and realistic.
RelevantRelevant goals support the program’s mission and vision.
Time framedTime-framed goals have a clearly-defined window for completion.

Need help setting SMART goals?

Check out our guide on how to create SMART goals. It has:

  • An overview of what SMART goals are
  • Examples of SMART goals for each Elevate Focus Area
  • Sample SMART goals from other programs

Read the handouts:

4. Use our template to develop your Elevate Program Plan  

Now you’re ready to set the concrete action steps that will help you meet your SMART goals.

Our templates will help you create your own plan — and they have helpful tips, definitions, and details about how Service Navigators will evaluate your plan. Our samples will also help you get started by providing some examples.

Note: These templates and samples are in Microsoft Word format (.doc). We recommend you use a computer to complete the templates.

To get some ideas, take a look at an example of completed Program Plan:

Don’t miss the educator professional development plan on the last page

It’s a required part of your Program Plan. For now, you just need to fill it out for 1 of your educators in your program (it doesn’t matter who you choose). It will help us understand your overall approach to building your staff’s skills.

Eventually, you’ll need to develop professional development plans for all the educators in your program.

5. Upload your Program Plan to the Registry

We can only accept completed Program Plans — so make sure to fill out every section! Don’t miss the educator professional development plan on the last page.

We only need the completed Program Plan — you don’t need to submit any other documents.

Watch this video for a step by step tutorial for uploading your plans.

What’s next?

When you submit your plan to the Registry, OEC staff will review it. They may have suggestions to ensure your plan meets the standards and have suggestions for editing it.

Once your plan is approved, your program will earn Member+ status.

Create professional development plans for all the educators in your program

To maintain Member+ status, you need to help professional development plans for all the educators on your staff. Keep them for your records — you don’t need to submit them to OEC. Use our templates to develop them:

Use your approved plan to check in on your progress

Even after your plan is approved, consider it a living document. Keep going back to it. Make changes and updates. Use it to mark progress and document changes you’ve made based on your program’s goals. 

Get help creating your Elevate Program Plan

Connect with a Service Navigator. They’re experienced guides who can talk about your program’s needs and direct you to Elevate resources.

Last updated September 18, 2023