A system is a set of interacting or interdependent components forming an integrated whole. In the second part of our two-part blog, What are the 10 Head Start Management Systems and Why Do They Matter?, we want to connect the quality of the 10 management systems to the quality of Head Start programs as a whole. In other words, the better the systems that make up the program, the better the overall program.
According to the National Head Start Association presentation “Leading Head Start through a Management Systems Lens,” the first step of improving the systems is awareness. In Part 1, we named the 10 systems, from Self-Assessment to ERSEA. Now that we’re aware of the systems, its important for Head Start programs to understand that good systems are both 1.) Highly Responsive 2.) Managed Proactively.
Good management systems can quickly and more easily respond to challenges. In the presentation, the NHSA gives several examples, from injuries on playgrounds to under-enrollment.
Collecting and analyzing data on a consistent basis is crucially important to the ongoing success of each system and dealing with those challenges. For example, data can uncover gaps in programming that the management systems can then deal with. Data sources include:
- Enrollment and attendance records
- Tracking systems
- Ongoing monitoring reports
- Self-assessment findings
- PIR Report
- Aggregated child outcome data
Responsive management systems require proactive management. One of the first steps of proactive management is to put it in writing. Putting each system into writing is a long process and too much to cover in this short blog. However, it is crucial to the systems success. Putting the systems into writing is important because it:
- Informs everyone of their roles
- Determines if they are being following correctly
- Ensures that they do not disappear when leaders leave
Once all the systems are in writing, leadership should formally revisit them at predetermined intervals. This proactive approach will allow the systems to:
- Reflect best practices
- Generate continuous program improvement
The lesson here is that good systems are responsive and make your job easier. However, there is a lot of upfront work that needs to take place in order to make them good, which is why so many programs neglect them. However, in this age of increasing competition for funds, it’s important that you can show that your program is making the necessary efforts to improve outcomes for the program, and most importantly, for families.