Tips for Preparing for a Successful Federal Monitoring Review

Tip #1:  Have a comprehensive ongoing monitoring system in place.

The system should include an ongoing monitoring tool, calendar and procedure. Also be sure that your ongoing monitoring system includes a way to document the non-compliances that are found – and that they’re corrected in a timely manner.

Tip #2:  The Board of Directors & Policy Council articulate their roles and responsibilities.

The Board of Directors understands their increased role – that they have fiscal and legal responsibility for the program. During the interviews, your Board and Policy Council talk about the (1) training they received; (2) monthly reports they receive; and (3) items that they review and approve.

Tip #3:  Have a system in place for everything.

Reviewers are looking for systems and want to hear you and your staff talk about the systems that you have in place in your program. Answer their questions by describing the systems that are in place (i.e. First we do this, then we do that, etc…), showing that the same thing is done for all children and families.

Interested in a Mock Review to prepare for a successful Federal Monitoring Review?  Give us a call at (704) 451-3255.

Key Points from the Winter Leadership Institute

In case you weren’t able to attend the 2014 National Head Start Association Winter Leadership Institute in DC last week, below are the highlights.

Update on the Sequester—

  • The sequester is being restored for Head Start and the expectation is that the 5.27% will be returned to Head Start programs.  It is most likely that Head Start will be flat funded for the next few years.

 Update on Early Head Start – Child Care Funding Opportunities—

  • $500 million dollars will be made available for Early Head Start – Child Care partnerships.  The priorities for these new monies are partnerships with child cares and plans to ensure a smooth transition as children leave Early Head Start.  A big part of the application will be how much the community needs Early Head Start – which will be driven by the Community Assessment.  The minimum number of Early Head Start children to be served is 72.  Webinars with more details to come shortly.  We’re expecting a short timeline between when the grant opportunities are posted and when the grant applications will be due (60 days).

Update on Reauthorization—

  • The next Reauthorization is in the preparation stages.  It took about 5 years for the 2007 Reauthorization to be accomplished.  We are positioning ourselves to be in the driver’s seat because last time, others drove the process, and we had to fight to change important pieces of the legislation.

Update on the revised Performance Standards—

  • While several drafts of the revised Head Start Program Performance Standards have been written, the revised Standards are still “under construction” – working on best language.  The plan is for the revised version to be out for public comment in a year.

Update on Monitoring—

  • A Head Start Key Indicator Screener Tool has been developed.  The tool is a subset of the compliance measures in the federal monitoring protocol – 15 core indicators & 41 additional indicators.  This mini-monitoring tool will show if there are issues with programs – if you fail any one item, you would most likely fail the entire Review.  This screener will be used between now and May for grantees who won their grant back in Recompetition.

 Update on Recompetition—

  • NHSA has recommended to the President that some changes be made to the Designation Renewal System (DRS) system. These include: 1) to stop referring to programs in DRS as low quality, 2) to release competition details in order to improve transparency, and 3) to treat low CLASS score as a non-compliance instead of a deficiency.
  • 38% of deficiencies were non-compliances during Federal Monitoring Reviews that were not corrected.
  • Will every program will be in Recompetition at some point? This question was answered at the Institute.  Programs will only be in Recompetition if 1 of the 7 triggers occurs in their program.  If no trigger occurs, then your program is automatically renewed for 5 years.
  • The list of programs in Round 3 of Recompetition will be announced soon…….. and winners in Round 2 of Recompetition are expected to be announced in April.

Getting Ahead of the Game

About 2 weeks ago, we received great news that Head Start received a 1 billion dollar boost in its funding.  While we don’t know a lot of specifics yet, we’ve been told that the monies that were reduced by sequestration will be restored.  We’ve also been told that 500 million dollars of the monies will be for Early Head Start – Child Care partnerships.

Before we receive more information, it’s time to get your ducks in a row.  When the funding opportunities are posted, we’re expecting a short timeline to write the grant application.  We’ve found that there’s a lot you can do now to be in good shape when the grant opportunities are posted. Things to do now to get ahead of the game include:

Investigate potential child care partners.

Talk with center directors of child care centers or family child care providers in your service area.  Tell them about Head Start and share information on Head Start requirements and goals.  Ask similar questions about their child care center.  See if it may be a potential match.

Get a comprehensive Community Assessment.

You will need data that shows why your service area is in high need of services.  You’ll also need data that describes all of the needs of the children and families in your area.

Think about how your program stands out from others.

Brainstorm with your team. Make a list of all the ways that your program provides high quality services – ways that it goes above and beyond.  Ask yourself, and your team, what it is you do that is innovative.

Need some help writing your grant? Or are you interested in having your grant reviewed?  Give us a call at (704) 451-3255.