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Mel Gravely

Updates to the Head Start Federal Monitoring Reviews for FY2024

The Gravely Group first introduced our FA1 and FA2 Monitoring Review trainings just about a year ago. Since then, we have helped several grantee agencies prepare for their monitoring reviews by explaining the entire process and helping them create “review-ready” systems and plans.

In Fiscal Year 2024, the Office of Head Start (OHS) is back to business when it comes to monitoring events. All of the additional special COVID considerations are over. Agencies should be fully prepared for their monitoring events. In fact, OHS recently announced in their FY24 Monitoring Kickoff Webinar that they are implementing some substantial updates to how the monitoring process is conducted and what areas they are focusing on. The changes include re-instituting aspects that were on hiatus during the pandemic, incorporating lessons we’ve learned in the past few years, as well as evaluating programs on how they’re addressing some of the new challenges that we are now facing in the post-pandemic world.

First, let’s say that if your agency has been selected for a monitoring review for this year, you would have already been notified. Reviews happen throughout the year starting in October, and grantees are given a 45-day advance notice of when their actual review dates will be. Once you have a date, that’s your date. They are not able to be rescheduled.

That is, UNLESS you have an unannounced review. Yes, that’s right. For the first time since the pandemic began, OHS is once again conducting unannounced reviews. We’ve been hearing a lot of anxiety out there about unannounced reviews., but we want to help alleviate some of that anxiety. Only a small selection of grantees will have unannounced reviews. Also, grantees are still notified that they will undergo a review SOMETIME during the year. If they make a commitment to prepare early, they should be just fine.

Other changes and updates for this year include:

  1. FA1 Reviews will continue to be conducted virtually as they have since the pandemic started; FA2 reviews will be conducted mostly in-person, with only the financial portion handled virtually.
  2. CLASS scores will again be used in Designation Renewal System (DRS) determinations, after having been on pause during the pandemic. One big change on this front is that for the first time, grant recipients will have the opportunity to self-record and submit their own videos to satisfy the CLASS review.  If that’s not possible, they can also request an on-site review.
  3. The FA2 review has a deep and renewed focus on safety. Programs that have had a reportable safety incident will have the special Risk Assessment Notification (RAN) protocol included in their monitoring event.
  4. There is a larger focus on staff qualifications in all areas. Be prepared with clear documentation on this topic.
  5. There is a greater focus on maintaining and supporting the Head Start workforce in areas such as hiring, compensation, as well as DEI&B initiatives.
  6. There is also more focus on the ability to incorporate community and support family, not just on program compliance. This can be a tricky one when it comes to providing documentation, so be sure to research what kind of data is appropriate here.

These are just a few of the changes for FY2024. If your agency is the subject of a federal review this year, we first recommend visiting the Align Monitoring System 2.0 Virtual Expo. This resource is designed to familiarize your team with all the tools and information necessary to prepare for the upcoming fiscal year and learn about the newly enhanced monitoring protocols. Even if you’ve been through a review before, there are significant changes this time around, and it’s important to take a look at this information to make sure you’ll be providing the data OHS is looking for.

And second, we recommend contacting The Gravely Group if you need any further guidance. Our seasoned experts have been on both sides of the monitoring process. It is our goal to make sure that your program demonstrates that it is in compliance with all of Head Start’s rules and regulations, and is providing high-quality programming that promotes positive outcomes for children and families. We look forward to working with you.

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