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Mel Gravely

The Importance of Strategic Planning to Your Head Start Program

team_building_successHead Start grantee and delegate agencies must develop and implement a systematic, ongoing process of program planning. This resource can be used by program directors and their management teams as a guide through the process of strategic planning and provide key aspects of planning ahead.

The process of identifying where you want to be and deciding what you must do to get there is known as strategic planning. And it’s important for any Head Start or Early Head Start organization. Without a clear picture of where you want to be your path will be rocky. There will be indecisiveness, second guessing and heading off into directions that you don’t want to pursue.

Strategic planning is a process of defining the values, purpose, vision, mission, goals and objectives of an organization. Through the planning process, a jurisdiction or agency identifies the outcomes it wants to achieve through its program and the specific means by which it intends to achieve these outcomes.

Strategic Planning can be:

  • A process for setting future directions
  • A vehicle for training managers and direct supports
  • A process for making strategic decisions
  • A way to develop consensus among Head Start managers and direct supports

A sound strategic plan will:

  • Serve as a framework for decisions or for securing support and approval.
  • Provide a basis for more detailed program planning.
  • Assist in bench marking & performance monitoring.
  • Stimulate change and become a building block for the next plan.

Strategic planning is the core of the work of any Head Start organization. Without a strategic framework you don’t know where you are going or why you are going there. A strategic plan is not rigid. It does, however, give you parameters within which to work and develop your program. That is why it is important to use work you have already done to extend your understanding of the external environment and of your own capacity, strengths and weaknesses.

A strategic planning process is not something that can happen in an ad hoc way, at a regular planning meeting or during a staff meeting. It requires careful planning to set it up so that the process is thorough and comprehensive. When you develop or revise a strategic plan, you are setting the parameters for the work of your organization. So, it does make sense to spend some time and energy planning for your strategic planning process.

The Gravely Group believes that a goal without a plan is just a wish. Empower your program with a strategic plan that becomes a living document to ensure program goals and objectives are met.


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