Last week we posted guidance for how you can establish a strong foundation for a Focus Area 1 review as part of the Aligned Monitoring System 2.0 (AMS 2.0). Even if you don’t have a review scheduled for FY18 you may find the tips helpful, no matter how soon or far off your next review might be.

As you know, the structure of Focus Area 1 review and a Focus Area 2 review is different. While Focus Area 1 is offsite and largely focused on design, Focus Area 2 is on-site, much more in depth, and centered on implementation, demonstration, and monitoring.

Is your program going to receive a Focus Area 2 review in FY18? If so, here are some ways you might think about setting yourself up for a smooth process.

Understand the process for the Focus Area 2 review and make a list of questions or concerns. The Office of Head Start (OHS) reports that after you receive notification of your review you will have a planning call with your Review Lead. During this call you will coordinate schedules and other logistics. If you have questions about timing or the process or other concerns be sure to identify them in advance of this call so that you can get clarification.

Communicate about the review process well in advance of the on-site visit. As you know, many people in your program will be impacted by a Focus Area 2 review. Reviewers may have conversations with directors, teachers or service area managers, for example. They may also interview Governing Body members, Policy Council members, or parents. Use existing meetings with these individuals and groups to introduce the new review protocol and provide regular briefings as you approach the review.

Provide regular updates to staff related to timeline and process. It can be unnerving awaiting a review, and it often seems like having information and updates can help to ease some of that pressure. As soon as you know when your review will be scheduled, the timeline for interviews, or any other detailed information about reviews’ multi-day visit, communicate it to staff.

Ensure your data is organized and know what it says. Be sure to review all data in advance of your on-site visit so that you are readily familiar with trends and can anticipate questions that may arise during the review. Some of the document that will be reviewed may include attendance data, screening data, family needs assessment data among others. If you or your team members have data concerns, address them internally in advance of the review so that you’re prepared when it comes to discussion with the reviewers.

Leverage your program’s policies and practices. As best practice we recommend ensuring your program’s policies and practices are up to date. You will have a 60-day notification before the review date, so ideally before this window arrives it is best to identify any policy or procedure-related concerns. As we shared in last week’s blog post your program’s policies and procedures should accurately reflect the steps your program takes in each program area, and by maintaining up-to-date policies and procedures you are establishing a solid base for your approach to providing high-quality services. During the Focus Area 2 review you will demonstrate how you implement and monitor that approach.

On a recent Live Q&A held by OHS it was shared that there is additional monitoring guidance being prepared for grantees. Check the Expo for updates, and we’ll share what we learn here. For those of you who are among the first to receive reviews as part of AMS 2.0, we look forward to hearing about your experiences!

Thank you.

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