On October 10 the Office of Head Start (OHS) held the second launch of the FY18 Aligned Monitoring System 2.0 (AMS 2.0) in the Aligned Monitoring Virtual Expo. Many new resources, presentations, and information became available with the launch!
In a blog post last month, AMS 2.0: What You Need to Know, we provided overview information about the format and structure of Focus Area 1 and Focus Area 2. In addition to reviewing the full protocol available in the Virtual Expo, we recommend you also check out OHS’ Focus Area 1 At-A-Glance and Focus Area 2 At-A-Glance that were just added to the Expo. These summaries provide a helpful grounding in the new protocol and might be a good resource to share with staff.
If you’re wondering how the Focus Area 1 and Focus Area 2 reviews fit together, we found a great description in the Focus Area 1 At-A-Glance:
Focus Area 1 sets the stage for an aligned monitoring process by giving the OHS the opportunity to understand how grantees have designed their programs. Focus Area 2 follows the Focus Area 1 Review to measure how well grantees have been able to implement their program and examine how practice and data are driving program improvements and progress toward goals. Focus Area 2 does not exist to validate what was learned in previous reviews, but instead helps to integrate all the information the OHS has learned about a program to create a customized monitoring experience.
Now, let’s dig in to see what exactly is covered in each of the Focus Area reviews. Below we highlight the distinctions between Focus Area 1 and Focus Area 2, drawing from the new materials posted to the Expo. Remember, the timing is different for each review. Focus Area 1 takes place toward the beginning, and Focus Area 2 is typically in year 2 or 3 of a 5-year grant cycle. (Check out slide 9 of OHS’ The Enhanced AMS 2.0: The Foundation webinar for a graphic timeline of reviews during the 5-year grant cycle.) In the newly released resources it is stated that there will often be 1 year in between a Focus Area 1 and a Focus Area 2 review.
Program Design and Management. In a Focus Area 1 review you will be asked to describe your program design. Focus Area 2 will provide grantees opportunity to demonstrate how the program achieves program goals and implements high-quality services.
Quality Education and Child Development Program Services. In your Focus Area 1 review you will describe to the reviewer your program design approach to providing high-quality education and child development services. You’ll talk about topics such as teaching practices learning environments. During the Focus Area 2 review you will demonstrate how your program provides those high-quality services.
Quality Health Program Services. During your Focus Area 1 review you will describe how your program design ensures the safety of children in the program. You will also describe your strategy for delivering high-quality health, oral health, mental health, and nutrition services. In a Focus Area 2 review you will demonstrate how you implement and monitor those health services. You will be expected to share data and demonstrate the health and safety of program environments.
Family and Community Engagement Services. During the Focus Area 1 review you will describe to your reviewer how family services goals align with the PFCE framework. You’ll also describe how your program design is responsive to families’ needs and how family engagement is integrated into your program. During a Focus Area 2 review you will demonstrate how you implement and monitor your family engagement strategies, and how those strategies promote school readiness.
ERSEA Strategies and Fiscal Infrastructure. Focus Area 1 will center on the design of your recruitment and selection strategies and how they are responsive to community needs and help you maintain your funded enrollment. You will also discuss your program’s fiscal capacity and infrastructure. In a Focus Area 2 review you will demonstrate strategies for ERSEA compliance. The fiscal review will also allow you to demonstrate your approach for your annual budget and implementation and accountability, as well as address how you use information and data to inform decision-making in your program.
There’s a lot to cover with the new monitoring protocol, and we’re here to help. Keep your eye out for upcoming blog posts on how to prepare for your Focus Area 1 and Focus Area 2 reviews! Are there other topics you’d like to hear about or ways we can help you get ready for an upcoming review? Please feel free to be in touch to share your ideas and questions.