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Transformation Zone Implementation Support, Teams, and Capacity Building

The Transformation Zone Initiative was designed to build state and local capacity to apply lessons from implementation science to effectively implement early childhood strategies and to support early childhood systems improvements in rural, geographically disparate, low-population density communities across the State in order to get better results for children and their families. A total of 17 counties were eligible to apply to participate in the TZ and went through a selection process to determine their participation; Beaufort, Bertie, Chowan, and Hyde counties were selected to participate. The National Implementation Research Network and the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC) supported the Transformation Zone (TZ) implementation support, teams and capacity building effort by involving state and county teams to enhance early childhood system infrastructure, and building knowledge and skills in systems change and implementation science.

The TZ infrastructure consisted of cross-sector state and county leadership and implementation teams. Leadership teams consisted of leaders who have decision-making authority to influence funding and policy changes to remove barriers getting in the way of effective strategy implementation. Implementation teams consisted of intervention managers and staff who are directly engaged in activities to support and sustain full and effective use of the intervention.  In addition, implementation team members helped identify barriers to implementation and provided recommendations for policy/practice shifts to leadership teams to effectively implement strategies.

Each county had a cross-sector Leadership and Implementation Team with representatives from various early childhood agencies to support an effective implementation infrastructure. State agencies that received funding to implement TZ strategies, including the Division of Child Development and Early Education, Division of Public Health, and the North Carolina Partnership for Children, served as key members to the state leadership and implementation teams.

The State and County leadership and implementation teams were supported by a state and county technical assistance team with expertise in implementation science and systems change, including participation from National Implementation Research Network (NIRN), State Implementation Specialists, County coaches and a Coach Coordinator with the North Carolina Partnership for Children. These experts supported local and state teams to:

  • engage in collaborative decision-making to develop/enhance the functioning of the early childhood system,
  • support intentional attention to key activities across the implementation process (such as defining the early childhood system vision, evaluating fit of strategies, creating and carrying out detailed plans, developing communication protocols, and reviewing data to inform decision making and improvement),
  • assess individual and organizational capacity to implement strategies and support systems change,
  • participate in “Policy to Practice Feedback Loops” to resolve issues and celebrate successes, and
  • develop knowledge and skills to support effective implementation and scale-up of strategies.

At the state level, NIRN and State Implementation Specialists served as a liaison to county teams and worked with state leaders and intervention managers (i.e. purveyors) to enhance their knowledge and skills in implementation science, to facilitate planning and coordination among the various strategies and shared learning. At the county level, State Implementation Specialists and county coaches, supported by a coach coordinator, worked with county teams to support implementation of strategies. 

County Implementation and Leadership Teams, along with key community stakeholders, also engaged in learning to support community building.  Professional development opportunities were offered to coaches, team members, and community and state partners to ensure an effective and aligned early childhood system. Initial professional development included training on facilitation skills necessary to develop and sustain collaborative work groups, as well as Motivational Interviewing. In addition, training using the ABLe Systems Change Framework supported the development of county plans to engage diverse voices, particularly those of parents and other service recipients, and to carry out a systems scan process that will support long-range sustainability planning at the county level.

NCPC also provided technical assistance to counties in their communications efforts to support and sustain the work of the grant.

This Activity was completed December 2016.

RTT-ELC Reform Area: Successful State Systems