The proposed performance standards set higher standards for curriculum, staff development, and program duration, all based on research and effective practice. At the same time, the proposed rule makes program requirements easier for current and future program leaders to understand and reduces administrative burden so that Head Start Directors can focus on delivering high quality early learning programs that help put children onto a path of success.
This proposed regulation aims to:
1) Ensure higher standards for curriculum, staff development, and program duration, based on research and effective practice, to improve children’s outcomes;
2) Improve clarity and transparency to support better program delivery for current grantees and attract new prospective grantees;
3) Reduce administrative burden to allow grantees to focus on high quality service delivery, and
4) Maintain core Head Start principles, including strong comprehensive services, parent and family engagement, serving the neediest children, and respecting diversity.
This week we will discuss Program Quality.
The proposed changes for the Performance Standards in Quality
Increase the minimum hours and days of operation for Head Start preschoolers to a full school day and a full school year, unless a program can demonstrate that a shorter program more effectively meets its community’s needs.
The minimum program day would increase from 3.5 hours to 6 hours, and the minimum days of operation for preschool would increase from 128 days to 180 days and the total minimum hours that children are exposed to Head Start’s high-quality instruction and services would increase from 448 to 1,080 hours.
Update services to children with disabilities and their families to ensure they receive the individualized services they need to be successful within inclusive settings.
Ensure that all staff receive individualized professional development, including targeted intensive mentor-coaching, to ensure high quality comprehensive service delivery.
Retain core health services and streamline requirements to make them easier to implement and strengthen mental health services to support teachers and promote effective classroom management.
Improve family services by integrating research-based practices, placing a stronger focus on services to improve parenting skills that support child learning, and providing greater local flexibility to help meet family needs.
Require programs to collect, aggregate, and analyze data to achieve program performance goals, ensure continuous oversight, and consistently work to improve quality.
We believe the benefits of these proposed changes will be significant for the children and families Head Start serves. Strengthening Head Start standards will improve child outcomes and promote greater success in school.