The Office of Head Start (OHS) has shared information about what to expect for 2021 Head Start Monitoring. Most notable, during the 2020-2021 program year, CLASS reviews are suspended, and Focus Area 1 (FA1) and Focus Area 2 (FA2) Head Start/Early Head Start monitoring will take place virtually. This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was announced by OHS in a September 2020 Information Memorandum (IM).

The IM also laid out review timelines. Focus Area 1 (FA1) reviews will begin in November 2020 and Focus Area 2 (FA2) reviews will begin in January 2021. Relief funding and response to COVID-19 will be addressed during reviews.

During the FA1 and FA2 review processes, grantees will be asked questions about the use of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. They will also be asked about any adjustments made to program service delivery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. OHS will request information regarding grantee service delivery model (e.g., in-person services, virtual services, or a hybrid of both) with the understanding that these operations may change throughout the program year.

 Last week, OHS released the FY2021 Focus Area One Monitoring Protocol. While similar to the 2020 protocol, there is a notable difference.  In the section on Outcomes, OHS notes that the FA1 review will now require grantees to “explain the types of data collected to measure outcomes for each program area.” A thorough review of your program’s data management systems will be an important step leading up to your review.

FA1 also includes a Protocol Addendum: FA1 COVID-19 Discussion Guide, the purpose of which is for OHS to gather information about how services have been offered during the pandemic. The core components of the addendum are Designing Quality Education and Child Development Grantee Services, Designing Quality Health Grantee Services, Designing Quality Family and Community Engagement Grantee Services, and Developing Effective ERSEA Strategies and Fiscal Infrastructure.

If your program will receive a FA2 review this program year, keep your eye out for the monitoring protocol. OHS anticipates publishing the protocol in December 2020. Since FA2 reviews used to involve in-depth, in-person visits, it will be interesting to see how OHS adapts the protocol.

Federal Review Preparation is one of the core components of Foundations for Families’ Consulting Services. We have customized approaches for grantees preparing for FA1 or FA2 reviews, as well as tools to support a data management systems audit, and our team is highly skilled at supporting programs remotely. Please contact us to learn more about how we can help your program successfully prepare for its federal monitoring review.

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