Earlier this year, in a post by Julie Shuell, Senior Consultant, A New Year – New Performance Standards, we discussed how you might think about organizing your program to meet the new Head Start Program Performance Standards. We discussed putting HSPPS into three categories – Category 1: standards you are meeting now; Category 2: standards you are close to meeting or could meet with minor tweaks; and Category 3: standards you are not meeting. In February, we dove into Category 2 standards, and today we continue the conversation about Category 3 standards.
Category 3 standards – those you are not currently meeting – might seem like some of the harder standards to tackle. After your HSPPS leadership team has identified the Category 3 standards, work together to divide these standards into two buckets. First, identify standards where your team has the internal knowledge and skills to develop a plan and implement the standards. You will also want to make sure that even if your team has the knowledge and skills that they also have the time. Be mindful of compliance dates as you think about internal resources. Then, identify the standards for which you will need assistance to become compliant. If you need assistance with compliance, brainstorm the supports you will need. For example, content expertise, research support, or assistance with action planning and timeline development.
Once you have put your Category 3 standards into buckets – those that can be handled in-house and those for which you need external support – you can begin to think about how to address your standards. Consider clustering groups of standards together based on similarities. Similarities could include –
- Content (what do each of the standards relate to?)
- Staff (who will make decisions about the particular standard? who has the content expertise to create a plan of action?)
- Timelines (what is the compliance date? how long will it take to implement the standard?)
To create efficiencies, identify where you see overlap and address those standards at the same time. For example, are there a number of standards related to family engagement that you are not yet meeting? It may be that the same group of people will have the content expertise and leadership to plan to implement those standards. Work on those standards at the same time, and create an action plan with aligned planning meetings, timelines, resources, and assignments.
Similar to our recommendations related to Category 2 standards, we strongly suggest reviewing your progress as you go along. Document your achievements and challenges. Ask yourself questions such as, where do we need more support? Are we on track to meet our goals? You might find that some of the standards you thought you could achieve with in-house resources might now be better suited for external support. Adapt your action plans and resources throughout the implementation process to ensure timely compliance with the new HSPPS. As with your Category 2 standards, you will want to ensure that staff, families, Policy Council and the Board are kept up to date, as appropriate, on progress. And, of course, don’t forget to celebrate your successes!
If your program needs assistance developing a plan of action to address the new HSPPS, we are here to help. Foundations for Families’ consulting staff have significant experience and expertise advising Head Start and Early Head Start grantees. Please be in touch to explore ways we can assist your program.
We have successfully worked with agencies in every round of recompetition to write winning grants, design competitive programs, confirm prudent budgets, and plan for a manageable start-up period. Contact Amy Augenblick, Executive Director, at (703) 599-4329 or [email protected] to learn about how we can help.