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Irving Harris Foundation

Irving Harris Tenets Initiative

Strategic plan to launch the Diversity-Informed Tenets for work with infants, children, and families (The Tenets Initiative)

Partner

Irving Harris Foundation

Irving Harris Tenets Initiative

Project

Strategic plan to launch the Diversity-Informed Tenets for work with infants, children, and families (The Tenets Initiative)

Question

How can a working group grow into a national initiative with broader reach and impact to help more early childhood professionals embed diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into their work at the individual, organizational, and systems levels?

Summary

The Irving Harris Foundation has had a long commitment to strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion in the infant and early childhood mental health field. Together, Foundation staff and an expert panel of the Foundation’s Professional Development Network developed a set of guiding principles and practices (Tenets) that strengthen the commitment and capacity of early childhood professionals, organizations, and systems to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion into their work. Each of the ten Tenets is informed by research and evidence, as well as the extensive collective experience of expert panel members – the multitude of families they have served and the systems in which they work.

 

Proponents of the Tenets wanted to disseminate them more broadly in order to strengthen professionals, organizations, and systems across the country who work with infants, children, and families. They believed the field would benefit from learning about the Tenets, adopting these diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and commitments, and learning how to embed them in their work. 

 

Beginning in November 2016, Root Cause worked with the Irving Harris Foundation and the Tenets Working Group to assess the landscape of diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development organizations – particularly in the early childhood sector – and facilitated a strategic planning process that helped the Tenets refine and differentiate its work, determine which workshops to offer, and formalize its structure.

Goals & Results

The three-year strategic plan provided four guiding recommendations:

  1. Determine which domain(s) within the broad landscape of “early childhood” the Tenets should focus on as its initial target audience.  
  2. Determine which level – individual, organizational, system – the Tenets want to influence. 
  3. Determine the best method for “spreading” the Tenets.  
  4. Implement a phased approach to strategic development and growth.  

Since the completion of the strategic plan, the Tenets Initiative has developed from an informal working group to a robust initiative that provided DEI workshops to over 600 professionals in the infant and early childhood sector last year.

News:

Academic Journal
Cross-Sector Allies Together in the Struggle for Social Justice Diversity-Informed Tenets for Work with Infants, Children, and Families

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Maria Seymour St. John and Ayannakai Nalo, California Center for Infant, Family, and Early Childhood Mental Health
The Diversity-Informed Infant Mental Health Tenets in California

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Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment
Infant mental health: A lens for maternal and child mental health disparities

Read More >

About the Partner

Irving Harris Foundation Logo

Irving Harris Foundation

The Irving Harris Foundation’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for children, families and communities by advancing human potential, social justice and equity, and creative experience and expression. Root Cause has worked with the Foundation through several projects dating back to 2016. Our work has had a special focus on the Diversity-Informed Tenets for Work With Infants, Children and Families. The Tenants are a set of guiding principles and practices that strengthen the commitment and capacity of infant, child and family professionals, organizations and systems to embed diversity, inclusion and equity principles into their work.

The Tenets Initiative Logo

Irving Harris Tenets Initiative

The Irving Harris Foundation’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for children, families and communities by advancing human potential, social justice and equity, and creative experience and expression. Root Cause has worked with the Foundation since 2016, with a special focus on the Diversity-Informed Tenets for Work With Infants, Children and Families. The Tenets are a set of guiding principles and practices that strengthen the commitment and capacity of infant, child, and family professionals, organizations and systems to embed diversity, inclusion, and equity principles into their work. 
The Tenets Initiative, formed from the Working Group of the Irving Harris Foundation’s Professional Development Network, helps professionals, organizations and systems of care by offering a set of aspirational principles which we can all strive towards. The Tenets Initiative helps people, organizations and systems of care by offering a set of aspirational principles which we can all strive towards. The Tenets Initiative offers workshops to help participants link the Tenets to their spheres of practice by reaching new levels of self-understanding, unpacking programmatic and organizational practices, and analyzing policy efforts to effect change. They start by engaging with a central assumption: we cannot do work in diversity, equity and inclusion without beginning with ourselves. The Tenets Initiative envisions a workforce in which all individuals, programs, organizations and systems of care embed principles of diversity, equity and inclusion into their work serving infants, children and families.

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