The FY2022 Head Start Monitoring Kick Off Webinar took place on September 23, 2021 and was the first glimpse into changes for FY2022 monitoring. Following the webinar, the Office of Head Start (OHS) released Fiscal Year FY2022 Head Start Monitoring Protocols. And, the Virtual Expo is expected to open in October. Now is a great time to familiarize yourself with the protocols, particularly if your program anticipates a FY2022 review.
First, there are a few main takeaways from the Kick Off Webinar. Most notable are the following.
- CLASS reviews will no longer take place during FY2022. This is a change from the July 2021 Information Memorandum in which OHS indicated a plan to resume CLASS reviews.
- OHS continues to plan to conduct FA2 reviews onsite, in-person.
- Unannounced reviews are not planned for the FY2022 monitoring season. While FY21 reviews included addendums to address topics specifically related to COVID, COVID questions are now integrated into the protocols.
- In addition to changes/additions based on the integration of COVID topics, other areas will have a new or enhanced focus (i.e., diversity, belonging, and inclusion; ERSEA strategies for children and pregnant women).
Further, during the FY2022 Head Start Monitoring Kick Off Webinar, OHS staff expressed an understanding that program services may look different than usual as programs return to in-person learning services during the pandemic.
As planned, the Focus Area 1 (FA1) protocol was released in September. The Focus Area 2 (FA2) protocol was not expected to post until November, but it was released alongside FA1. Overall, the FY2022 FA1 protocol is similar to FY2021, while there are more substantial changes to FA2.
A detailed review of the protocols shows that the areas OHS noted for changes and additions (and more!) are evident in the protocols. Here are a few examples.
- Within Program Management and Quality Improvement (PMQI), grantees will be asked to discuss their agency’s strategies for addressing inequities and promoting diversity, belonging, and inclusion among staff, families, and children (PM1, Question 2 in FA1 and PM2, Question 6 in FA2).
- Also within PMQI, there are new subquestions (PM1, Question 3 in FA2) related to professional development: how much of their budget is dedicated toward investing in professional development opportunities for staff, number of staff that have participated in professional development opportunities related to continued education, and what percentage of staff received a compensation increase after obtaining a new credential, certification, or degree.
- Within the FA2 section on Monitoring and Implementing Quality Health Services, Mental Health, there is now a question about suspension/expulsion (PM2, Question 3). In Safety Practices, programs will be asked to describe their approach to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 within their program (e.g., ventilation, sharing resources on vaccinations) (PM4, Question 1).
- Within the FA2 section on Quality Family and Community Engagement Services (FCE), Family Well-Being (PM1, Question 1), there are new subquestions specific to the number of families engaged in goal setting and the types of goals developed.
- Also in FCE, there are new subquestions in PM1, Question 2. The first asks programs to describe their approach to addressing food insecurities (including barriers and partnerships), while the second asks programs to describe their most impactful community partnership.
- The FA1 and FA2 protocols request information about ensuring COVID relief funding is used only for their appropriated purposes.
There are nuanced changes throughout the protocols, so we recommend a close read of the questions and criteria. As you get ready for a FY2022 review, consider how you can make improvements ahead of time so that your review is seamless and effectively demonstrates your program’s compliance and performance. For FA2 reviews, we further recommend consideration of the data that you will need to have available during the data tours to effectively respond to all of the questions asked. These are important steps to mitigate risk and improve program quality.
If your program needs assistance preparing for an upcoming FA1 or FA2 review, we can help. Foundations for Families Federal Review Preparation services are designed to help programs identify challenging areas, define responses, and help prepare team members who will participate in the review. Contact us to learn more.
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