Last month in our post A New Year – New Performance Standards by Julie Shuell, Senior Consultant at Foundations for Families, we provided tips for how to begin to tackle the new Head Start Program Performance Standards. One of the first recommended strategies was to compile team that will be responsible for ensuring the standards are met. With that team, put 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. Today, we’ll take a closer look at Category 2 standards.
Category 2 standards will be your “low hanging fruit” and easiest wins. Use Category 2 standards as an opportunity to familiarize staff with the process you will use to address the more challenging HSPPS for your program.
Below are steps you might follow to help your program achieve category 2 standards.
- Compile your team and put the HSPPS into category 1, 2, and 3 buckets. Flip charts might make this work easier for teams, and have someone record notes that can be shared with the group afterward to ensure everyone is working from the same set of expectations.
- Have your team take a closer look at category 2 standards. Look for similarities, either in content area and/or the type of modification necessary to meet the standard, and highlight any overlaps.
- Assign staff. Develop a clear plan of action for who will be responsible for programmatic or management system changes to ensure the new standards are met. Use the overlaps you identified for efficiencies when assigning staff.
- Establish action plans and timelines. Even though your category 2 standards will be the easiest to meet, they will still require time and action. Either as a group or by the person assigned to a set of standards, identify the steps that will need to be taken to achieve the new standards. Assign timelines to the actions.
- Implement your action plans. Record your progress as you work toward implementation. Identify any delays in timeline.
- Reconvene your team to reflect on progress. What successes have you experienced? Have any barriers been encountered? Are you sticking to the timeline? Is there anyone else you need to request join your team? Brainstorm solutions and create a modified path forward, when necessary.
- Continue to implement action plans to achieve category 2 standards.
- Reconvene your team at regular intervals to address challenges, record progress, and reflect on your next steps.
- Keep staff, families, Policy Council and your Board in the loop about your progress, as appropriate.
It is strongly recommended that you have a work to guide your journey. The work plan may include the category 2 standards grouped by similarities, identify person(s) responsible for completion and contributing team members, identify action steps and timeline to achieve the standards, and record accomplishments. Using a simple table you can streamline information into a tool that can be used for communication among your team, record keeping, and accountability. Whoever is overseeing your implementation team (e.g., senior team member) could maintain this document.
Your work is important and progress takes time. Be sure to reflect on your accomplishments and celebrate successes! As staff build confidence addressing category 2 standards you can begin to develop plans for the more challenging category 3 standards. Later this month we’ll take a closer look at how to address category 3 standards. These are the standards that you’re not meeting and may take more time, shifts in resources or processes to address.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about how we can help.