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Mel Gravely

What are the 10 Head Start Management Systems and Why Do They Matter? (Part 1)

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

Click to read Part 2 »

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