The Step Up to Quality team is an incredible resource for child care providers going through any of the five Steps – and they can also connect providers with other early childhood education resources. As a part of the State of Nebraska Department of Education’s Office of Early Childhood, the Step Up to Quality team works closely with their colleagues within the government and with partner agencies across the state.
To help providers get to know the people behind Step Up to Quality better, we’re featuring each of the team members and their role. This time we’re featuring Program Associate Ann Adams!
Step Up to Quality and Ann Adams have grown together – the day before the program launched back in 2014 was Ann’s first day on the team.
Ann started as the Program Coordinator, the role that Morgan Krull now has. On Ann’s second day, she started taking phone calls from interested child care providers across the state.
“I quickly realized they naturally had a lot of questions and we needed to develop more communication to them, and that communication would be the key to the success of the program,” she said.
She began to fill in the communication gaps based on her conversations with providers, and six years later she’s the voice of Step Up to Quality on social media. When you comment on a Step Up to Quality Facebook post, heart a tweet on Twitter, share an Instagram story, pin a Pinterest image or use #StepUpToQualityNE on any channel, Ann is the one who sees it behind the scenes. She’s the brains behind those interactions and the creative content.
She’s expanded her role to include the Office of Early Childhood and other departmental programs on social media, too. She divides her time between teams and serves as a communications liaison between programs, which is especially valuable during the pandemic when nearly everyone on those teams are working from home.
Ann came to Step Up to Quality after working in a busy hospital office.
“I never got the chance to be creative there,” she said. “I really appreciate that about the Office of Early Childhood.”
While she didn’t have a background in early childhood education, she used her perspective as a newcomer to her advantage. She was easily able to put herself in the shoes of an outsider, and then communicate accordingly so anyone could understand. In addition, she relied on the experts surrounding her.
“I knew I could be confident in the handoff if someone had a specific question about the process,” Ann said. “Everyone on the Step Up to Quality team cares so much about getting everything right and treating everyone with respect.”
She believes in the idea that the Step Up to Quality team mirrors the people they serve in early childhood education.
“High quality early childhood education is important because that’s where our creativity and curiosity are first nurtured,” she said. “And that stays with a person for the rest of their life.”
Ann remembers the first child care where she and her brother attended – Sunshine Daycare in Syracuse, Neb. In fact, she ran into one of her teachers in Lincoln a few years ago – and it was her teacher that recognized her.
“I couldn’t believe she knew who I was 30-some years later,” Ann said. “It just shows you how much these early childhood teachers care about their kids.”
Ann appreciates being able to tell the great stories, and statistics, research and program information, that encompass all aspects of Step Up to Quality on social media. And, she wants to empower providers to do the same.
“We encourage providers to use their participation in Step Up to Quality as a marketing tool for their program. It’s a big deal that they’re working to continually improve the quality of their care, and that they’re going above and beyond for their kids,” she said.
Providers have access to an online kit that gives them tools to promote their involvement in the process, plus Ann makes it a point to share posts that Step Up to Quality is tagged in to help build awareness about programs. She understands how time-consuming social media can be for busy people like child care teachers, directors and owners, but just like within the process itself, Ann is here to help.
“We love hearing from child care providers on social media. We love it when they tag us in their posts and comment on our posts,” she said. “Above all, we want them to know we’re approachable and we want to see them succeed.”