31 January 2013

Implementing KidsMatter involves a continuous cycle of development that includes celebrating and sharing experiences, relationship building, staff commitment, professional learning, planning, implementation and monitoring.Understanding and connecting with community is a key element.

If you're up to thinking about how to develop a better understanding of your community, a survey might be the way to go.

Using surveys to Plan

Remember there are surveys and collation tools for each component of the KidsMatter framework that can assist in identifying community setting strengths, needs and desires while developing KidsMatter action plans. They assist the KidsMatter 'Plan–Do–Review', process designed to guide services through each component and beyond, so you will use 'Plan–Do–Review' many times throughout KidsMatter. Tools to support 'Plan–Do–Review' are in KidsMatter Early Childhood: Tools and Guidelines for Implementation or check out the blog post Plan–Do–Review at a glance.

Conducting a survey can gauge people’s opinion about your service’s strengths and potential areas for improvement. It can assist you in identifying what your service is already doing well and which areas need further development.

The benefits:

  • They allow you to access a snapshot of your early childhood education and care community.
  • You can collect a large amount of information in a short period of time.
  • Surveys are flexible: they can be completed and returned in ways that accommodate the needs of your community (e.g. people can take them home and return them in person, or complete them at your service, or return them via email or online).
  • A structured questionnaire means everyone answers the same questions.
  • They allow you to measure people’s perceptions, opinions, knowledge and attitudes.
  • They guide you in planning ‘where to next'.

Of course, surveys aren't the only way you can build an understanding of your early childhood education and care service!  You might find a better way to meet your own needs.

Top tips for using surveys:

Explain. People are more likely to complete a survey if they know:

  • what it's about 
  • why it's being done
  • how the information they provide will be used. Providing information to explain the surveys might help. The front page of the surveys includes an explanation to help respondents understand them—using this text in a letter is optional. 

Give a deadline. Setting a deadline to complete the survey helps with response rate and reducing delays to collation of results. Set a timeframe that suits your context and accounts for distribution, reflection, response and return. Often 2 weeks from distribution it is ideal; reduces the likelihood that surveys are filed, put it off until later, or forgotten. 

Remind. Reminding people about the survey can also increase the likelihood that they'll fill it out. This can be done by having a chat, sending an email or sending a letter home.

Simplify the process. Make it as easy as possible for people to fill out the survey:

  • If sending the survey home, include a prepaid envelope.
  • If sending it by email, consider using an online survey so people don't have to print it out and fill it in.
  • If people are filling the survey out at your service, arrange a space, some pens and a response box for them.

Some extra things to consider:

  • What factors will help make the staff survey a successful experience in your service?
  • If you decide not to survey families, how will you seek to engage them in KidsMatter?
  • How might you approach families and educators/staff who are unable or prefer not to fill in surveys? (For example, families who speak another language at home.)

More information:

Involving families in the National Quality Standard

Effective self-assessment and Quality Improvement process (scroll to middle of page)