February OHS HSPPS Webcast Recap

The February Office of Head Start (OHS) Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) webcast focused on Family and Community Engagement. It included a review of family engagement embedded throughout the new HSPPS as well as provided helpful information about resources available to programs to help them meet the new HSPPS in this area. During the webcast OHS polled attendees and learned that some participants aren’t familiar with all of the resources available to them related to family engagement. Below, you will find a summary of few of the great resources highlighted on the webcast.

Head Start Father Engagement Birth to Five Programming Guide – On this week’s webcast OHS acknowledged that there has been a lot of activity in the area of father engagement in recent years, and the new HSPPS reflect that shift. The Father Engagement Guide links directly to the Parent, Family and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework, and is divided into three main sections – Program Foundations (leadership, continuous improvement, and professional development), Program Impact Areas, and Resources – to help programs engage fathers (and other men playing an important role in a child’s life). The Resources section provides a wealth of information ranging from assessment and action planning templates to guidance on planning father-focused groups.

Compendium of Parenting Interventions – Released in fall 2015, the Compendium describes a broad range of evidence-based parenting interventions that can be used with families of young children. It describes what parenting interventions are and how they work, and provides guidance about how to select a parenting intervention for your program. An “At-A-Glance” table provides a visual comparison of parenting interventions to help programs select those that are the best fit for use with the families they serve.

Family Engagement in Transitions: Transition to Kindergarten – This resource addresses the important transition to kindergarten, and provides strategies that can be used to support successful transitions for children, families and staff. It addresses key practices such as planning, information sharing, professional development and family and community partnerships.

In the February webcast we also heard from OHS about questions they’re receiving from the field. According to OHS, many questions have come up related to the parenting curriculum and they are working on responses. For example, what constitutes research-based, and how can a program determine if a particular curriculum meets this requirement? The other area where OHS is receiving questions is related to the Family Services Credential. Guidance will be coming about what certificates/credentials meet the requirement, what programs should do if they have their own certificate, and whether the credential must be through an institute of higher education. OHS also reminded participants that new videos would be coming soon to the Showcase.

The OHS HSPPS webcasts are available on ECLKC for those of you interested in viewing. The next webcast will take place on March 15, 2017 and the topic will be using data in your program. If your program needs assistance developing a plan of action to address the new HSPPS, we are here to help. Foundations for Families’ consulting staff have significant experience and expertise advising Head Start and Early Head Start grantees. Please be in touch to explore ways we can assist your program.

Thank you. 

Contact Us

We have successfully worked with agencies in every round of recompetition to write winning grants, design competitive programs, confirm prudent budgets, and plan for a manageable start-up period.  Contact Amy Augenblick, Executive Director, at (703) 599-4329 or augenblick@foundationsforfamilies.com to learn about how we can help.

Step by Step to HSPPS Compliance

Last month in our post A New Year – New Performance Standards by Julie Shuell, Senior Consultant at Foundations for Families, we provided tips for how to begin to tackle the new Head Start Program Performance Standards. One of the first recommended strategies was to compile team that will be responsible for ensuring the standards are met. With that team, put HSPPS into three categories – Category 1: standards you are meeting now; Category 2: standards you are close to meeting or could meet with minor tweaks; and Category 3: standards you are not meeting. Today, we’ll take a closer look at Category 2 standards.

Category 2 standards will be your “low hanging fruit” and easiest wins. Use Category 2 standards as an opportunity to familiarize staff with the process you will use to address the more challenging HSPPS for your program.

Below are steps you might follow to help your program achieve category 2 standards.

  1. Compile your team and put the HSPPS into category 1, 2, and 3 buckets. Flip charts might make this work easier for teams, and have someone record notes that can be shared with the group afterward to ensure everyone is working from the same set of expectations.
  2. Have your team take a closer look at category 2 standards. Look for similarities, either in content area and/or the type of modification necessary to meet the standard, and highlight any overlaps.
  3. Assign staff. Develop a clear plan of action for who will be responsible for programmatic or management system changes to ensure the new standards are met. Use the overlaps you identified for efficiencies when assigning staff.
  4. Establish action plans and timelines. Even though your category 2 standards will be the easiest to meet, they will still require time and action. Either as a group or by the person assigned to a set of standards, identify the steps that will need to be taken to achieve the new standards. Assign timelines to the actions.
  5. Implement your action plans. Record your progress as you work toward implementation. Identify any delays in timeline.
  6. Reconvene your team to reflect on progress. What successes have you experienced? Have any barriers been encountered? Are you sticking to the timeline? Is there anyone else you need to request join your team? Brainstorm solutions and create a modified path forward, when necessary.
  7. Continue to implement action plans to achieve category 2 standards.
  8. Reconvene your team at regular intervals to address challenges, record progress, and reflect on your next steps.
  9. Keep staff, families, Policy Council and your Board in the loop about your progress, as appropriate.

It is strongly recommended that you have a work to guide your journey. The work plan may include the category 2 standards grouped by similarities, identify person(s) responsible for completion and contributing team members, identify action steps and timeline to achieve the standards, and record accomplishments. Using a simple table you can streamline information into a tool that can be used for communication among your team, record keeping, and accountability. Whoever is overseeing your implementation team (e.g., senior team member) could maintain this document.

Your work is important and progress takes time. Be sure to reflect on your accomplishments and celebrate successes! As staff build confidence addressing category 2 standards you can begin to develop plans for the more challenging category 3 standards. Later this month we’ll take a closer look at how to address category 3 standards. These are the standards that you’re not meeting and may take more time, shifts in resources or processes to address.

If your program needs assistance developing a plan of action to address the new HSPPS, we are here to help. Foundations for Families’ consulting staff have significant experience and expertise advising Head Start and Early Head Start grantees. Please be in touch to explore ways we can assist your program.

Thank you.

Contact Us

We have successfully worked with agencies in every round of recompetition to write winning grants, design competitive programs, confirm prudent budgets, and plan for a manageable start-up period.  Contact Amy Augenblick, Executive Director, at (703) 599-4329 or augenblick@foundationsforfamilies.com to learn about how we can help.

January OHS HSPPS Webcast Recap

The “Hot Topics” portion of the Office of Head Start (OHS) webcasts on the new Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) always seem to offer interesting insight into grantees’ questions about the new standards and how OHS plans to address them. In this month’s webcast three areas were addressed during Hot Topics –

  • We were reminded about the new effective date for background check requirements. OHS reiterated that programs should review the Program Instruction and accompanying FAQs for the most up to date information.
  • OHS also clarified a frequently heard question related to programs’ ability to enroll children who are not yet age 3 into Head Start. As stated in the standards (see 1302.12b specifically), children must be 3 years old OR age 3 by the kindergarten cutoff date for their particular state. In other words, children who are not yet 3 years old can enroll if they will be 3 by the kindergarten cutoff date.
  • OHS is receiving lots of questions related to QRIS as well as curricula and staff qualifications. They are working on detailed guidance, and grantees are encouraged to continue to submit questions through ECLKC.

The topic of the January webcast was Health, Safety, and Mental Health. The webcast was packed with information about the new standards, justification for why the standards are the way they are, and links to lots of resources for programs. As a reminder, the webcasts are available on ECLKC. Below, we discuss a few of the highlights from the January webcast.

Suspension and Expulsion. OHS acknowledged they are receiving many questions related to suspension and expulsion, which they reminded us applies to children birth to age 5 (not just Head Start). They noted the standards are not a new practice, as they codify a long-standing practice in Head Start to not expel children. This new section in the HSPPS prohibits expulsion and limits suspension. There is some flexibility with the rule. If a program has explored all options for a child, documented all steps along the way, and determines that the placement is not appropriate then the child can be transitioned to a new (more appropriate) placement through a warm handoff. Alongside the suspension and expulsion requirements the new HSPPS provide steps for programs to take to address challenging behaviors and provides more detailed information on the important practice of engaging mental health consultants in this area.

Mental Health. “Social and emotional well-being” are the buzzwords used in the new HSPPS related to mental health. Mental health, along with health, oral health, and nutrition services are viewed as essential components to support children’s development and school readiness. On the January webcast OHS discussed an important new provision that at enrollment programs must obtain parental consent for mental health consultation services. The goal, in part, was described as helping to normalize mental health services. The importance in helping parents understand (e.g., through training, resources) child mental health – in terms of their social and emotional well-being – was also stressed. The new HSPPS were also strengthened to help ensure that mental health services help staff address challenging behaviors and with classroom management practices. A key to this success is use of mental health consultants, which according to the standards must be licensed or certified mental health professionals. OHS acknowledged that in some communities it might be difficult to find consultants who have experience with young children. To the extent possible, this would be the recommended practice.

Child Nutrition. Again, nutrition is one of the key service areas supporting children’s development and school readiness. In the streamlined standards, one of the new requirements is related to water. Now, programs must make safe drinking water available to children during the day. OHS reminded us that this was not in the previous version of the standards. The Child Nutrition section addresses topics such as how much food should be offered, and it also includes more specific requirements related to breastfeeding support. OHS noted that the breastfeeding standards appear in this section since they are connected directly to infants’ nutritional needs.

Lots of resources! Many resources were highlighted in the January webcast. Grantees were encouraged to refer to Caring for Our Children Basics for basic health and safety guidance, and were also reminded that they may exceed the guidance in Basics as desired or required through other avenues (e.g., state licensing). Resources for program staff, such as the Health Manager’s Orientation Guide, were highlighted, as were resources for families such as the Well-Visit Planner. Additionally, new videos will be coming to the HSPPS Showcase in February. According to OHS we can expect to hear more on the following topics – general structure of the new HSPPS, infants and toddlers, dual language learners, suspension and expulsion, family child care option, and home-based option.

It sounds like more guidance is coming soon from OHS related to certain areas of the new HSPPS and we look forward to sharing that here! As a reminder, there are two more webcasts left in the series on the HSPPS, with the next one scheduled for February 15, 2017. What has your experience been so far with the new HSPPS? Please feel free to be in touch if you have specific needs for assistance. Our experienced, knowledgeable consultants at Foundations for Families would be glad to help!

Thank you.

Contact Us

We have successfully worked with agencies in every round of recompetition to write winning grants, design competitive programs, confirm prudent budgets, and plan for a manageable start-up period.  Contact Amy Augenblick, Executive Director, at (703) 599-4329 or augenblick@foundationsforfamilies.com to learn about how we can help.