Essential Tips: Writing Your 5 Year Grant Application

Tip #1:  Show that your program utilizes a systems-based approach to service delivery.

There are many opportunities throughout the grant application to demonstrate that your program has systems in place. Key systems include references to 1) your policies and procedures, 2) written plans and 3) an ongoing monitoring system. Demonstrate that you have systems in place to deliver services to children and families – including the way you track and monitor service delivery. Display other systems you have in place – such as recruitment/enrollment, professional development, transitions and tracking staff qualifications.

Tip #2:  Include information on your data-driven decision-making model.

There is a lot of valuable programmatic data at your fingertips – child assessment data, enrollment and attendance data, family engagement data, CLASS data and ongoing monitoring data, just to name a few. By aggregating and analyzing this data, you have critical information at hand that you can use to make decisions for your program. Provide information on how you will measure and report progress on your long-term goals and short-term objectives as well as the impact areas.

Tip #3:  Demonstrate a strengths-based, empowerment model in serving families.

It’s important to meet families where they are and build upon their strengths. This is a foundational element in Head Start. Demonstrate how your program will support family growth and development. Show how your program empowers families to self-sufficiency. Explain how you utilize multi-disciplinary teams and strong community partnerships to achieve this. Share information on how you implement your Parent, Family and Community Engagement plan as well as how you utilize the data from the plan.

Looking for someone to write or review your 5 year grant application? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Best Practices for Family Engagement

It is essential that families are fully engaged in the lives of their children including helping their children become ready for school. Below are several examples of best practices in establishing family engagement in your program.

  • Conduct an assessment of your family engagement plan.  Review the level of family engagement that currently exists in your program. Determine how your program is set up to involve parents. Ask yourself:
    • How are families encouraged to participate?
    • How do you assess the strengths and needs of the children and families?
    • Do you have established partnerships in your community to meet all of the needs of the children and families?
    • How do you communicate with parents to show them that they are their child’s first and most important teacher?
  • Implement the Parent, Family and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework. The PFCE Framework is a roadmap to ensure that family engagement is integrated in all systems across your program. The foundations of the framework (program leadership, continuous program improvement, and professional development) are the building blocks to establish a strong level of family engagement throughout your program. Strategies to create family engagement are centered on 4 impact areas – program environment, family partnerships, teaching & learning, and community partnerships. The framework presents 7 parent and family outcomes that represent the goals for engagement with parents, families and the community.
  • Support the home-school connection.  The relationship between teachers and parents is critical in creating a foundation of school success. Regular communication between parents and teachers can build support and strengthen the important work that teachers do in the classroom. This frequent communication will allow teachers to:
    • gain a better understanding of the background and experiences of the child,
    • provide parents with information on how their child is progressing in school, and
    • provide parents with ways to continue the learning at home.

Model activities that parents can do at home with their child – such as talking with their child during daily routines, reading to their child and providing opportunities for their child to draw and print – just to name a few.

Looking for training on Family Engagement? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Health and Safety: A Major Focus in Head Start

While health and safety has always been emphasized in Head Start, it is more important than ever that you have systems in place to ensure that your program is in full compliance with all health and safety-related matters. Health and safety is a major focus of many of the newer parts of Head Start – 5 year grants, the newly aligned monitoring system and Recompetition.

  • 5 year grants.  As a part of the 5 year project periods, you must complete a screening of the health and safety environment of each of your centers. This must be completed within 60 days of the start of the project period. Additionally, your Board of Directors must sign a certification of compliance confirming that all centers have received a health and safety screening within 75 days of the start of the project period.
  • Newly aligned monitoring system.  An Environmental Health and Safety Review event is one of the Review events in the newly aligned monitoring system. This Review event focuses solely on health and safety across your program. A Health and Safety Reviewer will visit each classroom in every center of your program. The Review event includes safe and clean facilities, healthy learning environments, safe learning environments & supervision as well as safe transportation.
  • Recompetition.  One of the top reasons that programs are in Recompetition is due to health and safety issues. Deficiencies in the area of health and safety during federal monitoring reviews as well as self-reported health and safety issues are leading causes of programs that have to recompete.

Looking for training on Health and Safety? Give us a call at (704) 451-3255 or email us at

Key Points from the 2014 NHSA Fall Leadership Institute

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

50th Anniversary of Head Start:

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Head Start, it’s important to remember that it was the Cooke memorandum that began Head Start. President Johnson appointed Sargent Shriver to lead the administration’s War on Poverty. Shriver recruited his pediatrician, Dr. Robert E. Cooke, to head a committee whose recommendations led to the beginning of Head Start in 1965.

Update on the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships grant applications:

560 Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships grant applications were received.  60% are partnerships, 20% are a combination, 15% are expansion only, and 5% couldn’t be identified from the Executive Summary. The applications are being read now. The plan is to begin negotiations in December and finish the announcements by the end of March.

Update on the revised Head Start Program Performance Standards:

The Head Start Program Performance Standards have been revised and they are now in “internal coordination.” It is expected that the Performance Standards will come out for public comment this winter.

Update on Reauthorization:

It does not look like Congress is ready to start a reauthorization in the near future. It is likely that the revised Head Start Program Performance Standards need to come out and see how they work before reauthorization is going to be discussed.

Update on Recompetition:

  • 25% of all grantees have competed in Recompetition. The highest percentage of programs that have competed has been Community Action Agencies, programs that serve 200-499 children, and programs that serve Head Start only.
  • 6.9% of regional Head Start and Early Head Start programs have been in Recompetition due to CLASS.  No program has ever fallen below CLASS thresholds for emotional support or classroom organization.
  • Programs that had CLASS scores that fell into the bottom 10% tended to have Teachers with lower degrees.
  • Supervision issues continue to be a leading cause of programs going into Recompetition.
  • Outcomes of Recompetition: 72% of programs have gotten part of all of their program back; 20% lost their grant; and 8% have had their grant reposted.

Update on transitioning to the 5 year grants:

As it pertains to 5 year grant oversight, regional staff will be spending more time on addressing and correcting programs’ non-compliances. They are looking toward monthly contacts with grantees driving the agenda.


  • 70% of Head Start Teachers now have a Bachelor’s degree.
  • A complete review of all Head Start facilities will be conducted. For the next 2 years, Head Start will be taking pictures of your facilities. This information will be included in a report to Congress in order to tackle the issue of the state of Head Start facilities in a more consistent and coordinated way.