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Mel Gravely
June-03-2013

How to Hire a Head Start Consultant

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, providing training 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.

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2 Comments

  1. Emma Trevino says:

    Good morning,

    SER has been awarded an Early Head Start Grant, we are seeking an Early Head Start Governance Consultant. Please see below:

    The consultant, is to provide the following expertise and training:

    Fundamentals of Head Start History, Culture & Mission
    Head Start Facts: Funding, Services, Outcomes Federal & Regional Structure
    Acronyms: The Alphabet Soup of What We Do

    Legislative and Regulatory Framework for Governance Head Start Act
    Performance Standards and NPR
    IMs, Pis & Policy Clarifications
    Governance in the Head Start Management System

    Governance Roles and Responsibilities Grantee Sub-Board
    Policy Council Administration
    Policy Pyramid and Putting It Together

    From Regulation to Practice: Effective Governance at the Grantee Level
    Local By-Laws & Policy Documents Governance Readiness Tool
    Questions That Matter and Meaningful Governance

    Delivery Method : Via Live Webinar
    Duration: 8 Sessions

    If interested please email your proposal to etrevino@ser-national.org by no later than September 17, 2015 by cob.

  2. Emma Trevino says:

    Good Afternoon,

    SER has been awarded an Early Head Start Grant, we are seeking a Curriculum Specialist Implementation Consultant. Please see below:

    The consultant, is to provide the following expertise and services:

    Develop short term and long term goals and objectives for the curriculum and instruction for infants and toddlers as described by the Head Start Program Standards, Head Start Readiness Goals, Texas Licensing Guidelines, Texas Education Agency and any other required early childhood guidelines, inclusive of:

    1. Establishing goals and objectives for the creation of a comprehensive short term and long term strategic education plan.
    2. Develop planning criteria based on population, community resources, public school systems, and other environment concerns.
    3. Outline objectives towards meeting the goals and objectives of the education component.
    4. Develop developmentally appropriate and research based experiences for social-emotional, motor, cognitive and linguistic development using a researched based curriculum program.
    5. Develop procedures and forms for delivery of instruction (lesson plans, progress notes, parent communication forms, individualization forms, etc.).
    6. Develop an assessment and evaluation process for the quality of the instruction and curriculum process using approved and developmentally approved assessment instruments.
    7. Develop a plan for a systematic review and revision of implementation of strategies
    8. Develop a systematic process for the evaluation of teachers and staff using researched, approved, reliable, and valid observation systems such as the C.L.A.S.S.
    9. Provide training to the center managers and classroom staff during the process of implementation (At least 3 times, pre, mid, and post).
    10. Provide technical assistance to the director and education staff.
    11. Provide strategic project management of tasks as assigned by the director; thereby, ensuring timely and successful completion.
    12. Provide activity reports and complete and submit all other necessary documents in a timely manner.

    Location: Irving Texas
    Duration: 8 Weeks

    Please email your proposal to etrevino@ser-national.org by no later than September 16, 2015 by cob.

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