budgetRecently The Gravely Group has been ask numerous questions on Allowable and Unallowable cost. We asked our new Fiscal and Administrative Consultant Geoffrey Lowry to compose a listing of ideas that can help you work through your program’s cost issues:

The Following Cost Are an Allowable Use of Head Start Federal Grant Funds

  1. Conference Services-Necessary recording of proceedings, simultaneous translation, and subsequent transcriptions.
  2. Consultant Services-Consultant Fees, including travel and supporting costs (Per Diem)
  3. Equipment Rental-Rental of necessary equipment.
  4. Meals-When certain meals are an integral and necessary part of a conference (working meals where business is transacted), qualified under “Travel” or meals where the primary purpose is for participants in the program performing necessary requirements of the program.
  5. Supplies-Necessary for participants in the program or funds used for the administration of the program to be used during the contract period.
  6. Speaker Fees-for services render
  7. Salaries-In accordance with the policy of the recipient, all or part of the salaries of professional personnel, clerical assistants, editorial assistants, and other non-professional staff in proportion to the time and effort to the program.
  8. Registration Fees-Paid by the recipient to other organizations on behalf of attendees provided such fees cover only those allowable costs properly chargeable to the grant.
  9. Publications Cost-When grant funds are awarded to pay for either the entire or partial cost of publication of proceedings or a book or pamphlet, cost of special plates, charts, diagrams, printing, distribution, mailing, postage, and general handling.
  10. Travel of staff, speakers, participants, and attendees, if identified in the application and approved at the time of award. Travel expenses for employees of the recipient are governed by the recipient’s travel policies, consistently applied regardless of the sources of funds. Proposed per diem or subsistence allowances must be reasonable and limited to the days of attendance at the conference plus the actual travel time to reach the conference location by the most direct route. Local mileage cost only may be paid for local participants. Where meals and/or lodgings are furnished without charge or at a nominal cost (i.e. as part of the registration fee), the proposed per diem or subsistence allowance must take this into consideration. Transportation costs for and participants at the conference may not exceed coach class fares.
  11. Administrative Cost-Agencies are limited to 15% administrative cost unless permission for a higher rate is granted

The Following Cost Are an Unallowable Use of Federal Grant Funds

  1. Entertainment and Personal Expenses-Cost of amusement, diversion, social activities, ceremonials, and related incidental cost, such as bar charges, tips, personal telephone calls, and laundry charges of participants or guest, are unallowable.
  2. Equipment Purchased-Not Allowable without Prior Authorization from your regional office
  3. Honorarium-payments given for the purpose of conferring distinction or to symbolize respect, esteem, or admiration may not be paid from grant funds.
  4. Membership Dues-Not Allowable without Prior Authorization from your regional office
  5. Research Patient Care-Not Allowable under any circumstances
  6. Local Participant Expense-With the exception of local mileage as indicated under “Travel”, grant funds may not be used to pay per diem or expenses for local participants in the conference.

onboarding program managementOnboarding is the process by which new hires get adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their jobs quickly and smoothly, and learn the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to function effectively within an organization. As Head Start makes adjustments with new Grantees and Delegate agencies, Onboarding is the perfect concept to use when introducing Head Start concepts to new organizations. Generally, on-boarding encompasses activities from pre-program year through the end of the organizations first year.

However, since Head Start believes in continuous improvement, we believe that this process will continue through the five year grant period. In this instance we will discuss training for new delegates for Pre-Service. Here are some important points that need to be covered when onboarding new delegate agencies:

Review and Grasp the Performance Standards and the Head Start Act:

To ensure that all programs are in compliance, the performance standards have to be in the forefront when introducing Head Start programming to new agencies. The most critical information program leaders need is found in the law that authorizes Head Start and the regulations and clarifications that explain how to implement the law. Understanding the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, the Head Start Program performance Standards (HSPPS), and associated fiscal management regulations provides your Head Start program with a foundation to identify and meet the expectations for strong program management. If training does not begin with these recommendations, continuation of Federal funding will be at risk.

Roles and Responsibilities between Grantee Agencies and Delegate Agencies:

Who is accountable to whom? How do we get our program trained? How do we stay on the same page? Open and honest communication is a fundamental theme when Onboarding new programs. This is the Grantees’ chance to build a new successful team. Sharing organizational structures and staffing patterns support an open door policy.

The strength of your Program Governance content area:

Program Governance systems include a governance structure, strong communications, and regular reporting that supports shared decision-making. Governance in Head Start is complex. Head Start programs have found that many governing bodies, especially those that are new to Head Start, find their oversight role to be challenging. Training in this area is essential for a strong system management.


Head Start Management SystemsA 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.

System Responsiveness

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

Proactive Management

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.


Head Start Management SystemsOn the National Head Start Association website, there is a somewhat hidden presentation titled “Leading Head Start through a Management Systems Lens.” This presentation, given during the Head Start Manager and Director Academy in June 2012,  outlines the 10 key Head Start management systems and aims to 1. Make managers aware of the systems and 2. Connect the quality of the systems to the quality of the programs.

It wouldn’t be surprising if most managers and directors would be unable to name the systems off the top of their heads. The first step to any improvement is awareness. So in this two-part blog, I’d like to first list and provide a brief description of the 10 management systems.  Then, in part 2, we’ll talk about why the systems are important, and how they affect the quality of your programs.

1. Self-Assessment

  • Effectiveness and progress in meeting goals and objectives, including goals related to school readiness
  • Progress in implementing and complying with Standards
  • Impacts program planning
  • Requires report of improvement goals go to Secretary

2. Planning

  • Program goals and program and financial objectives based on the community assessment and self ‐ assessment
  • Written plan(s) for implementing services in each of the program areas
    Includes the involvement of:

  • Governing body
  • Policy groups
  • Program staff
  • Community organizations

3. Program Governance

  • Formal structure for program oversight and making decisions related to program design and implementation
  • Head Start Act defines composition of the Governing Body (early childhood education, fiscal/accountant, licensed attorney)
  • Governing body holds legal and fiscal responsibility

4. Human Resources

  • Staff qualifications as outlined in the Head Start Act
  • Standards of conduct
  • Staff performance appraisals
  • Orientation and ongoing training that includes governing body and policy council

5. Facilities, Materials, Equipment

  • Developmentally appropriate and conducive to learning
  • Appropriate space for ALL Head Start activities
  • Supportive of cultural and ethnic backgrounds
  • Safe and secure
  • System for maintenance and repair
  • Prevent any child from leaving the premises
  • Minimize potential injury

6. Record Keeping and Reporting

  • Collection, organization and maintenance of data that evidences compliance with local, state and federal regs
  • Child and Family Records
  • Program Records

7. Communication

  • Ensure that timely and accurate information is provided to parents, policy groups, staff, and the general community
  • Families
  • Governing bodies and policy groups
  • Staff
  • Delegate agencies

8. Ongoing Monitoring

  • Ensures that operations of the programs work toward meeting program goals and objectives
  • Ensures regulatory compliance
  • Identification and mitigation of risk
  • Includes delegate agencies

9. Financial Management

  • Records that identify the source and application of funds for HHS ‐ sponsored activities
  • Controls and accountability for all funds, property and other assets
  • Written procedures for determing the reasonableness, allocability and allowability of costs per applicable Federal cost principles
  • Accounting records supported by source documentation


  • Specifies conditions by which families can be served at 130 % of the poverty line
  • Eligibility of homeless children
  • Outreach and enrollment policies and procedures established by the agency

self_assessmentContinuous quality improvement is a central belief of any Head Start program, with the goal of meeting Performance Standards and moving toward program excellence. As part of this process, the annual Self-Assessment provides programs with the means to regularly assess their own management systems and program operations in order to continually strengthen the program.

Head Start Performance Standards clearly state that at least once each program year agencies must conduct a Self-Assessment of their effectiveness and progress in Federal Regulations.

How can Head Start programs be sure that the services they provide meet these objectives as well as strive to continuously improve the quality of services?

By using the Self-Assessment grantees can annually assess how specific aspects of their program’s operations impact services delivered. Self-Assessment is not an isolated event, but along with ongoing monitoring, is an integral part of a planning cycle.

Programs seeking continuous improvement should regularly ask the questions:

  • Is the program meeting all national Head Start Performance Standards?
  • Are our services responding effectively to the changing needs of families?
  • Are we doing what we need to, or are we just doing it the way we have always done it?

Who is responsible for the Head Start Self-Assessment?

Most Head Start directors engage a team of program managers and leaders in outlining a process and timeline for conducting the Self-Assessment and analyzing the results. The results of the Self-Assessment serve as a driving force in determining needs for program improvement.

The Head Start director does not pursue this process alone. The Self-Assessment process provides an opportunity for involving program leaders, such as parents, Policy Council members, and Governing Body members for making staff more aware of how the program operates and is viewed by its families.

What do we do with the information we collect in the Self-Assessment?

The Self-Assessment has little importance unless the Head Start program uses the information to drive program enhancements. Self-Assessment results should be used as a driving force to develop program improvement goals, desired outcomes, and action plans. Both the results of the Self-Assessment and the plan for program improvement should be communicated widely to the governing body, staff, Policy Council, parents, and community partners.

Vince Lombardi once said, “Most people fail not because of lack of desire but because of lack of commitment.” Stay committed to you children and families and you will be pleasantly surprise about their progress.


headstart_imgERSEA stands for the Enrollment, Recruitment, Selection, and Attendance of children in early childhood programs. It is one of the most important tasks to be performed in successful Head Start programs today. Whether you are a new Head Start program or an established program, ERSEA is important to you and is the life blood of a successful early childhood program. Remember every staff member plays an important part in the execution of ERSEA.

As we come into the mid year of it is important that Head Start staff:

  • Review ERSEA annual plans to update or change strategy to complete the year
  • Encourage families to bring children to school during the winter months to promote school readiness
  • Review waiting list or the reasons for no waiting list
  • Work with Policy Council/Committee to ensure parent ideas for ERSEA goals
  • Prepare for the next school year with strategies to improve your ERSEA plans

Here are some of the questions your program should be asking to ensure a successful program:

  • Do you have a plan for the beginning of next school year? This is the time to begin your marketing plan. What was successful the previous year? What was not? Have you budgeted enough to make sure is it successful?
  • Do you have enough qualified personnel to execute your plan? How many advertising dollars do you need to spend to get attract the required number of eligible children into you program?
  • How many children and families do you need on your waitlist? Is your waitlist an active waitlist with children and families still looking for services or is your program not sure.
  • Have you budgeted for attrition? In most Head Start programs there are a certain percentage of children and families that enroll but for a variety of reasons decide not to take advantage of the quality programming some programs have to offer. Do you enough families on your waitlist to make sure your organization is still at full enrollment?
  • Do you or your staff need training, knowledge or expertise in staying compliant with Federal, start or local requirement without creating non-compliance or a deficiency?

These are some of the questions that need to be answered to have in order to have a successful ERSEA plan. Knowledge Management can help you design a plan to keep you at full enrollment with proven techniques while keeping your organization within budget.

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” -Booker T. Washington

Put yourself on the road to success. Enlist Knowledge Management to assist you in meeting your ERSEA and financial goals. Knowledge Management has the knowledge, experience and effective techniques to assist your organization with any ERSEA or non-compliance issue that you may have. Knowledge Management specializes in Technical Assistance and Training that will assist your Head Start program in ERSEA compliance.


head start consultantAt some time or another, a Head Start program may decide that the problem they’re facing needs the expertise and advice of an outside consultant. Consultants play an important part of any successful Head Start program and can help bring lasting change and quality improvements to a program.

The Strategic Use of Consultants Guide was developed to help agencies design their targeted training and technical assistance needs and hire consultants to fill those needs. We won’t go into great detail on the Guide for the purposes of this blog. Instead, we interviewed a Head Start director about her experience with using consultants. Here are some of the things we learned from that conversation.

Why hire a consultant?

Being a strong leader means knowing when to ask for help. The Georgia Center for Nonprofits cites three reasons to hire an outside consultant: objectivity, specialized expertise, and experience.

Objectivity – Sometimes it takes an outsider without preconceived notions to help the agency gain perspective.
Specialized Expertise – A good consultant will specialize in a few highly specific areas. And while volunteers are useful resources, every nonprofit organization can tell you there’s a big difference between paid assistance and volunteer assistance.
Experience – Consultants will have a breadth of knowledge that can only be gained by training many agencies in the same topic over and over. They’ve probably already seen your problem before, and know how to solve it effectively and efficiently.

Where to find a consultant?

Most of the time agencies find consultants at conferences or from references from other Head Start programs. Also, the State Association can be helpful in providing ideas for consultants in specific areas. It’s a good idea to keep a database of consultants available. Every time you hear of a consultant or meet one at a conference, log their contact information and areas of expertise. Even if you don’t need their services now, you may later.

How to choose the right person?

In the Strategic Use of Consultants Guide, OHS suggests the following strategy in hiring a consultant:
• Advertising the position
• Seeking qualified candidates from your organization’s consultant pool
• Making the most of talent within your organization
• Soliciting the advice of Head Start colleagues and partners

However, as any Head Start leader will tell you, when choosing your consultant, don’t underestimate the value of your intuition and the importance of feeling comfortable with the person you’re choosing. It’s much easier to communicate and engage in honest dialogue with your consultant if you feel camaraderie and trust. In your interview, you may want to ask questions about their passion for Head Start or early childhood education in general.

What about costs?

Everyone at some point has had experience with the old adage: You get what you pay for. While price is an important consideration, it shouldn’t be the ONLY consideration. Head Start agencies are not made of money, and every dollar is crucial, especially with the estimated 5% reduction expected across the board. Make sure the consultant can provide the right balance of expertise and service you require to move your program forward. Otherwise, it’s just money wasted.

What about The Gravely Group?

The Gravely Group is a national training and consulting agency for Head Start programs on several program areas, including Program Governance, Effective Meetings, Board Development, Parent Involvement, Fatherhood, and Team Building. We are also experienced in training AIAN (American Indian Alaska Native) programs.


Round 2 for Head Start RecompetitionLast week, the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) announced the second group of Head Start programs that will be required to recompete for funding as part of the Designation Renewal System. In total, 122 agencies have been notified. Continue reading »


Office of Head Start Delays DRS/Re-Competition Grantee NotificationsThe Office of Head Start released an official statement on December 7th from its national Director, Yvette Sanchez Fuentes. Fuentes confirmed that the first round of grantees who submitted re-designation applications in July and August would not be notified of their status until Spring 2013. Most assumed the announcement would come at the end of the year after the 250 chosen panelists had completed their reviews. But it seems that is not the case.

Some are already speculating on what’s taking so long. The statement from OHS doesn’t do much to explain what is causing the delay. However, they do clarify that funding has already been extended through the end of the school year for the 130 agencies that have applied. The good news is that services for these families will not be interrupted at least for the time being. However, some are wondering if fears about the so-called “fiscal cliff” are playing a part in the delay.

As applicants get closer to hearing the status of their application, many may be nervous about the future of their programs. Sometimes waiting with uncertainty is the most difficult part of the entire process.

The Gravely Group will continue to update our blog with any new updates on DRS/Re-competition. Stay tuned.

OHS Applicant Support Website – This site offers a robust collection of resources to provide a deeper understanding of the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, the funding process, and the evaluation criteria.

Designation Renewal – List of Head Start grantees designated to compete, the link to forecasted grant opportunities, and up-to-the-minute Administration for Children and Families policy decisions impacting competition.


With so people served in so many ways by Head Start, there are literally millions of phenomenal people that have benefited from the continuously improving Head Start performance standards.

Take for example, Angel Tavares, Mayor of Providence Rhode Island, who still remembers graduating from a Head Start program in South Providence, and who still has the small scroll he was presented with that day to prove it. The reaches of Head Start manifested to Angel at Harvard of all places. There he learned his roommate from Poughkeepsie, New York also attended Head Start.

He says, “My roommate joked, ‘There must be something about that program!’” We know there is. Now, as Mayor of Providence Rhode Island, Angel Tavares believes 1/3 of eligible children enrolled in Providence Rhode Island Head Start programs is simply not enough when there are so many more children, families, and communities that can benefit from Head Start. As Mayor, Tavares, has made it a priority of his office to increase that percentage because it’s “good but it’s not good enough.”

Good, but not good enough means there\’s room for improvement. I have to agree with Mayor Tavares, our performance standards are good, but as generations change, the struggles facing low-income families and communities, and of course state and federal administrations change, so too must Head Start improve, progress and develop. That’s why we’re here. Performance standards have been an important secret to the success of Head Start. And since the Obama Administration took office, Head Start has been charged with enhancing the quality of classroom instruction.

● What do performance standards mean at your Head Start facility?
● What does it mean to enhance performance standards at your facility?

“A renewed era of innovation, improvement and integrity in Head Start is here,”. “Helping all children realize their dreams and potential will help us build tomorrow’s workforce, strengthen our economy, and fulfill America’s promise,” Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

In September 2010, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it’s nationwide initiatives to enhance performance standards. They include:
● Training and technical assistance centers will support Head Start programs
PURPOSE: To bring best practices into Head Start classrooms around the country, promoting continuous improvement and innovation at the ground level.
● Expert mentors/coaches in a number of Head Start programs across the country
PURPOSE: To provide on-the-ground training to teachers and program directors, to help them improve their classrooms.
● 10 exceptional local Head Start programs as Centers of Excellence
PURPOSE: To provide peer-to-peer technical assistance.

The Centers of Excellence

Much of this boils down to improving school readiness which is a long term measure of success for Head Start programs nationwide. In “Improving School Readiness and Promoting Long Term Success,” released by the Department of Health and Human Services, increasing every head start child’s exposure to effective appropriate learning experiences both in the program and at home,” is the first way performance standards can be improved.

Within the Head Start program, this means that teachers provide age-appropriate, classroom activities that provide children with meaningful experiences focused on specific learning objectives.

Changes to the Head Start Program Performance Standards, include:
● Classroom activities children engage in everyday, will place an increased emphasis on foundational literacy, math, and science skills
● Promoting healthy social emotional and physical development in Head Start children.

At home, it means that Head Start program’s staff and administrators work in collaboratively with families to help them best understand how to support and reinforce the learning that goes on during a typical Head Start day.


For the 40 years that I’ve been working to enhance the early lives of young people and the adults that support them, it’s been a special privilege and pleasure to serve the Head Start community.

The mission of Head Start is to promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through education, health, nutrition, social and other services for children and families. I wonder if President Lyndon B. Johnson imagined when he declared the War on Poverty and signed the Economic Opportunity Act in 1964 paving the way for Project Head Start in 1965, that Head Start would eventually enroll more than 27 million children since 1965.

Could Johnson foresee his initiative would serve over 900,000 toddlers, preschoolers, infants and pregnant women in 2010 alone?

Did Johnson envision that in 1972 when a small 10% was set aside to serve children with disabilities, the move would result in 11.5 percent of the children served by Head Start in 2010 would have disabilities such as mental retardation, visual handicaps, hearing impairments, speech and language impairments, alongside learning disabilities?

There have been so many children successfully served by Head Start programs, and there will always be more children, families, and communities to serve.

Unlike pre-kindergarten, only families at or below the poverty line have access to Head Start. And most importantly — Head Start focuses on the whole child, while pre-K focuses most specifically on the academic development of the child. This means, we know part of what makes Head Starts successful is that it does more for children, families and communities than pre-kindergarten, but like most federally funded programs, we are charged with demonstrating that we provide vital and necessary services to our most vulnerable: our children. Our children are counting on us to improve, be better and unlock the secrets that continue to make Head Start successful.

We know there are some secrets that continue to withstand the tests of time, presidencies and generations.
● Performance Standards
● Team Building
● Parent Participation

These three secrets continue to make Head Start successful for the 27 million children the program has served. But what we know is that it takes constant focus and attention in each area equally to serve the next 27 million. Over the next several weeks in a four-part series of blogs, I’d like to focus on more ways to improve performance standards, team building, and parent participation, so Head Start continues its success.


In a recent story in The Blade, board members of the  Economic Opportunity Planning Association (EOPA) questioned how the agency is preparing to reapply for a $13 million grant to continue running its Toledo Head Start agency.

Due to the Head Start Recompetition Process, EOPA was recently notified by the federal government it will have to compete for funding if it wants to continue to administer Head Start locally.

There is nothing unusual with this story until what happened next. EOPA board members decided to go into a closed-door session to discuss the previously released grant criteria. Many other local for-profit entities, including the Toledo Public Schools are expected to apply.

It turns out the EOPA executive board’s request for a closed-door session to discuss public matters is a violation of Ohio’s” Sunshine Law, meaning state law requires open public meetings. In addition, entering a closed executive session can only happen legally with a roll call vote. A reporter from The Blade who was present objected to EOPA’s closed meeting and filed a lawsuit for holding what was deemed an illegal executive session.

These types of actions are likely happening around the country. There are benefits to recompetition of existing Head Start agencies that could use a restart. The 132 Head Start grantees programs in question have identified deficiencies and because of that, may now lose funding. Yes, there is a threat to both jobs and students served in these programs. However, these concerns neglect a fundamental point. This is a “recompetition.” Current grantees are not simply being de-funded. They are recompeting for their grants against other potential providers who may come forward. The whole point is to identify the best available provider to continue delivering top services to children and communities–not to cut services.

If anything, many communities are concerned that not enough low-performing Head Start grantees will lose funding, because there is a lack of quality providers with the capacity to replace them.

Without the recompetition for grants of existing Head Start providers, there is no sustained effort to identify and build the capacity of high-performing providers to compete for Head Start grants, which carry an array of very complex requirements.

What are your thoughts –will recompetition of these 132 grantees create higher quality pre-school programs for Head Start?


The School Readiness Act of 2007 offered improvements to ensure that school readiness is a top priority for all the children they serve.  In general terms, the Office of Head Start has defined school readiness to mean:

  • Children are ready for school
  • Families are ready to support their children’s learning
  • Schools are ready for children

As programs work to contribute to children’s learning and development, Head Start leaders articulate the knowledge and skills needed for preschool children in social, emotional, cognitive/language and physical development. Clear identification of these factors demonstrates when a child is “school ready.”  By understanding the goals and skills needed, Head Start staff can plan and implement the most effective curriculum, assessments, and teacher-child interactions.

Head Start has long defined school readiness as children being prepared for success in school and for later learning in life. In addition, for parents and families, school readiness means they are engaged in the long-term, lifelong success of their child.

The Office of Head Start’s approach to school readiness involves three major frameworks. The frameworks promote an understanding of school readiness for parents and families. They also lay the foundation to implement systemic and integrated comprehensive child development services and family engagement efforts that lead to school readiness for young children and families. Visit the links below to learn more about these frameworks:

With Head Start’s “On the road to school readiness” approach, resources are available for local agencies to establish goals and metrics, implement and plan, determine priorities for improvement, and track progress. Look for more details here.

In addition, be sure to check out the school readiness FAQs to fully understand what it means for our children.

Is there a program or method you’ve implemented locally that should be included here?  If so, please share your comments below.


In a recent blog post, Parent Involvement is Key to Children’s Success, we talked about how closely linked a child’s later success in life is tied to parent involvement in their educational process.

Equally important is the role of Head Start staff in promoting and sustaining supportive family partnerships. These partnerships, characterized by mutual respect and trust, acceptance, objectivity, flexibility, personalized attention, and cultural awareness make up the foundation of Head Start’s program success.

Head Start Staff refers to:

  • Program Directors – include family partnership agreements as an integral part of their Head Start program’s mission, goals, and services
  • Program Managers – work to professionally develop staff
  • Educators and Staff – regularly interact with families to enhance their family-partnership skills

Developing family partnerships is an ongoing process, beginning with a child’s enrollment in a Head Start program and continuing until the family has made a successful transition from the program.

Staff development that includes skills needed to fully implement this partnership is a continuous process. Ways in which Head Start Staff contribute to its success:

  • Develop a mutually respectful partnership with families to enhance the quality of their lives and their communities
  • Give families support to reach their goals
  • Offer opportunities for parents to engage in group activities, including policy groups and educational activities based on interest and need
  • Encourage children and families to participate in family literacy activities and services
  • Promote and support parent involvement and leadership throughout the program
  • Raise family awareness of community resources
  • Assist families in crisis
  • Respect and respond competently to each family’s culture, traditions, lifestyle, language, and community
  • Initiative effective program practices and maintain a commitment to professionalism

Head Start’s ongoing effectiveness training is enhanced through the Competency Goals and Indicators for Head Start Staff Working with Families. Head Start staff use these guidelines and indicators to review and update job descriptions and qualification standards. They can also use them to guide the selection, training, and supervision of family workers.

Additional resources to help staff — the heart of family partnerships — be the most effective they can be:

Head Start Staff Training and Credentialing
Professional Development
Parent, Family and Community Engagement
Developing a Head Start Training Plan
Training Guides for Head Start Learning Community

Are there additional resources you find beneficial in training Head Start Staff? If so, please include them in the comments below.


Imagine 27 million lives forever changed by Head Start.

Since 1965, more than 27 million Americans have participated in the Head Start program and benefited through “The Window of Opportunity,” offering success in school and life. With more children in need of services now, than at any time before, National Head Start Association (NHSA) has declared 2012 to be “The Year of Opportunity.”

A video released last October explores opportunities Head Start provides for children in poverty they might never get otherwise. Maria Shriver, narrator of the fanciful video “What is the Window of Opportunity?”  is a fitting choice. Her father, Sargent Shriver, first conceived the program in 1965 to help communities meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children. As part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, he helped locate funds to implement the program and assembled a committee of experts.

There is no stronger testament to what Head Start can do than hear the story of how a hungry child carried through the doors of a center grew up to be a teacher, an artist, or a Member of Congress.  When listening to the many videos, stories and testimonials displayed on the National Head Start Association’s website, you can’t help but notice that not only have these alumni benefited from the program, but their family reaped the rewards as well.

Gathering alumni from centers across country, NHSA will invite 27 to Nashville, TN on April 18, to celebrate the 2012 Day of Opportunity. This sample of alumni will represent the 27 million success stories of Head Start since 1965.

Every Head Start and Early Head Start center has a critical role to play by identifying 27 Head Start success stories in its community – including alumni, parents, staff, and volunteers – anyone who has witnessed the transformative power of the program. Check out the program standings so far. NHSA will be accepting testimonials all year long and celebrate at other events. However, only those submitted before March 20, 2012, will be considered for the Day of Opportunity.

What can you do?

Currently, more than 5 million infants and children in need are unable to access Head Start. The best argument we can make to protect and expand this program comes from you. I urge you to lend your voice and your stories to this project. Together we are more than just numbers; we are the legacy of Head Start.

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