Skip to content
Mel Gravely

Four Things You Must Know about the New Head Start Performance Standards

preschoolThe New Head Start Performance Standards are already making headlines around the world. How will they impact you? Here are some things you need to know.

1. You have sixty days from publication to read and put into effect many of the changes, November 7, 2016. However, for rules that changed significantly the effective dates are staggered with additional time given to implement the rule, ranging from 2017-2021. Check the compliance dates in the final rule in the Compliance Table. OHS is urging Head Start staff and stakeholders “to take the time to read the final rule in its entirety, including the preamble and the text of the regulation” and “use this interim period to make adjustments as needed to assure full compliance with the new HSPPS.”

While it may seem advisable to try to jump the gun, and make lots of changes really quick, remember what Head Start is about. Involve your parents. Involve the board and stakeholders. And, perhaps equally as important involve the line staff who will actually be impacted and involved. Brainstorm ways to keep the level high, without putting more stress on staff.

The new guidelines allow some flexibility; use what you need. Head start guidelines are difficult enough; don’t seek to rush into them without clearly thinking about this. We are in this together. Talk to other program leaders. Seek guidance and training from the proper sources, so that governing bodies are fully informed. Share suggestions and thoughts in the comments.

2. Reducing the bureaucratic burden. The numbers of the standard have been reorganized with many standards removed. According to Blanca Enriquez, director of the Office of Head Start “The new standards for the program will reduce the current 1,400 Head Start standards by approximately 30 percent, eliminating many prescriptive and duplicative requirements while improving services to children and families in Head Start.”

However, I do advise you to bear in mind that this will also require you to overhaul your Head Start Service Plan. As you read and train, keep that in mind. And for those of you who memorized the numbers, you have a task ahead of you. (Yes, there are people who knew these standards in their dreams!)

3. Training, training, training. You know that’s what Head Start is about, right? Training and planning for implementation of the new standards will need to take place with staff, governing bodies, and parents. The Office of Head Start will provide T/TA opportunities to learn about the new standards at every level—from grantee management staff, boards, and Policy Councils to federal and contract staff and T/TA providers. Federal program specialists were trained in person, in August, on the new standards. There will be a webcast and question and answer session with OHS leadership. Look out for a virtual HSPPS Showcase that will address specific areas of the new standards, which will become available on the ECLKC early September. Additionally, OHS promises to update us about monthly webinars to support understanding and implementation. Other places to learn: Check out the schedules of regional, state, and national conferences throughout this year, where OHS and T/TA staff will present on the new standards. The OHS Birth to 5 Leadership Institute in the spring will focus on a culmination of all the learning.

4. Parent Committees. One much spoken about rule, which almost changed was reinstated. The requirement for parent committees is back into the new Standards, in order to maintain and strengthen family partnership. So let’s keep our parents, boards, policy councils involved in this ride!

Stay tuned for further updates.



  1. Sherrie McDaniel says:

    My concern is that governance at the center level will be eliminated because there is no mention about officers needed to run Parent Connection Committees.
    How will the meetings now be conducted? Will they be led by someone other than the parents? I am really confused about this issue can you shed some light on this subject for me?

    • Melvin Gravely says:

      You can elect officer at all level. The meetings should be run by the parents. The committee at the center is call a parent committee

  2. TeeNeka says:

    I appreciate this snapshot highlight of the Standards, and I agree, ensuring people reading the preamble is highly recommended. Thanks for posting!

Leave a Comment