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Mel Gravely

The Gravely Group 2022 Year in Review

Board Training with Mel Gravely

If you only read one of The Gravely Group’s blogs each year, our annual Year in Review should be it. Each year, we do a recap of all the articles we put out throughout the year, as well as give a few other highlights from our trainings and travels.

After nearly three years of uncertainty, 2022 was all about getting back to basics.

“In an effort to help myself and others feel a little bit more ‘back to normal,'” we wrote in one blog. “I thought I could write a few blogs about something other than COVID and its effects on early childhood education. Over the next few months, we’re going to get back to the basics of Head Start, and talk about some of the simple, yet profound, principles on which it was founded.”

We kicked it off in January talking about the multicultural principles that have guided Head Start since at least the early 90s, in which we unpacked the phrase “every individual is rooted in culture.”

We then moved on to a bit of a history lesson, in Considering Head Start’s Place in Black History, where we learned that just because Congress allocated funds for the Head Start program at the federal level in the 1960s, doesn’t mean that the program was automatic at the state and local level. We discussed how many jurisdictions fought it fiercely.

We then talked about nutrition, one of the foundational services of Head Start, and a part of Head Start’s mandate since day one.  “Without nutritious meals filling their bellies,” we wrote. “Children would be incapable of learning, period. It’s how they start every day. Before any songs, books, or games, children need to receive a nutritious meal.”

Our blog about nutrition turned out to be timely, because just a short time afterward, Head Start announced that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients were now categorically eligible for Head Start. In our blog, Families that are Categorically Eligible to Enroll in Head Start, we discussed this change, as well as talked about all the other families that were categorically eligible for Head Start.

Over the summer, we wrote about Helping Families to Support Positive Behaviors. With the upcoming school year, we worried about how children might deal with going back to school or coming into school for the first time:

“The 2022-2023 school year might be challenging for some children… They may act out. It’s our job as teachers and parents to help children navigate these feelings and teach them how to deal with them in an appropriate way.”

After that we focused on staff for a bit. First, we wrote about Head Start employee compensation, which sparked a lot of debate on our social media. Some Head Start staff reported wage increases or bonuses, while others did not. We discussed how future wages seemed very uncertain for both staff and grantees:

“It seems to me that many organizations are waiting for the dust to settle in the post-pandemic period so they can see what the new “market price” for labor will eventually be,” we wrote in the blog. “No one seems sure what that long-term percentage increase will be. So for now, many are relying on temporary bonuses through COVID relief funds to get them through this year.”

Our second blog about staff came in September, where we talked about ways that agencies can support the mental health of staff. The blog focused on a new mental health initiative from the National Head Start Association (NHSA) where, for the first time ever, they would be providing “direct services to individuals within member Head Start programs.” We wondered aloud why NHSA decided to launch this initiative now.

“NHSA recognizes that there is a problem with mental health wellness in the early childhood education sector and that the problem is big enough that they needed to act,” we wrote. “Anecdotally, I’m sure many of us have stories to tell. Co-workers who complain about stress and burnout and have even quit the profession because of it. Perhaps we even feel that way ourselves.”

In between writing blogs, The Gravely Group was busy traveling. We attended two conferences for the first time ever: The Region V Annual Conference in Chicago in October and the Region 2 Annual Conference in Puerto Rico in November. Both were well-attended and were great opportunities to present some of our signature trainings. We also attended the Region IV Annual Conference in February, the 12th Annual Fatherhood/Male Involvement Conference in April, the Region IV Early Head Start Institute in September, and countless in-person trainings for agencies throughout the country.

But that doesn’t mean we stopped doing our online trainings. We continued to hold webinars on our most popular offerings throughout the year, such as ERSEA and Father Engagement. We also partnered with other content experts to offer free online trainings on topics such as technology and sign language.

And last but not least, just a couple weeks ago we announced brand new trainings from The Gravely Group on Focus Area One and Focus Area Two monitoring reviews.  With the addition of these trainings, The Gravely Group can help programs stay in compliance and avoid recompetition.

While we could go on and on about all the amazing people we met and stories we were told, we think we’ll leave those for another day. Thank you to all of our friends and colleagues for a wonderful year! Don’t forget to follow The Gravely Group on our social media and join our LinkedIn group (now with over 15,000 members!) for lively discussion all year long.


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