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Dear CAA Director:
The new CSBG organizational standards have prompted many CAA’s to review their approach to strategic planning. Some CAA’s are focusing on creating an organizational improvement plan to tune up their systems, facilities and to build capacity of their staff. Most CAA’s can do this on their own. If there is a conflict among staff, or the board is lagging behind in their understanding then you may benefit from a local facilitator help with the discussion, but this is not what I want to do.
A CAA can achieve the minimal degree of compliance with the standards just by extending their annual CAP plan for a few more years into the future. You can do this yourself in a 1/2 day retreat with your board. You don’t need help to do this, and this is not what I want to do.
P.S. I wrote both “CAA Planning Manuals” for the National Association of CAA’s in the 1990’s. I wrote the “major planning issues for board members” for Cal/Neva. I have done strategic planning “how to” seminars for CAA’s and Head Start. I have facilitated about 30 strategic planning processes for CAA’s. You can see my full resume at www.cencomfut.com I should warn you, it is long because I have been working in community action for a loooooong time.
Strategic Planning Seminars for Local Head Start Programs
by the Center for Community Futures
Each seminar runs 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on day one, and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on day 2. (You can modify these times.)
Here are eight reasons why you should have Jim come to your site and do this seminar on strategic planning:
1. GET MOVING AGAIN ON THE BIG SHIFT. Until 1998, the Head Start was a classic compliance-driven grant-in-aid program based on thousands of rules. In 1998 the Congress and the Head Start Bureau initiated a shift to become a principle-driven, plan-based program with greater local flexibility. The Federal Review tool reflects this systems approach. We are right in the middle of this paradigm shift. Some people on the review teams switch back and forth between these two mental models during their visit. (“Tell us about your management vision” and “Show me the toothbrushes?”)
Some of the momentum in moving to a principle-driven program with expanded local flexibility has been lost because of a large number of new initiatives, but the opportunity is still there for you to make this change. By completing this shift, you expand and define a local policy space that you own – and that provides room for growth based on local priorities. An unintended consequence of the emphasis on child outcomes is that your activities may be narrowed down to only those activities that move the numbers on child outcomes. You can preserve your flexibility to develop the whole child and the whole family and to pursue local initiatives by completing the shift to a vision driven, principle driven, plan-based program.
2. GET A HANDLE ON MISSION CREEP. Over the years Congress has expanded your duties to provide “all needed services” to “all members of the family” and to focus on “self sufficiency.” You can not be all things to all people. You have to put some boundaries on your activity now and in the future.
3. CREATE STATE-WIDE AGREEMENTS ON SCHOOL READINESS. No matter what Congress does on child outcomes, the trend is that within a few years America will have universal pre-school -- and this will happen state-by-state. Whether there is a block grant or not, you need to work out an agreement with your state department of education and with other pre-school programs about what it means for a child to be “school ready.” Head Start programs in California and a couple of other states have done a good job of creating standards that work both for state-funded preschools AND for Head Start. We will look at these examples and talk about how to do this in your state.
4. DEVELOP OR REFINE YOUR LOCAL PROCESS. There is no mandated process for strategic planning or for making the shift to the principle-driven approach. You have to develop your own “plan for planning” or “policies and procedures” for planning. We provide you with samples; you leave with a draft.
5. REFINE YOUR FORMAT. There is no standard format for what goes into a Head Start program area plan or a strategic plan. You have to develop your own -- and we help you do that right in the workshop.
6. RESOLVE CONFLICTING DEFINITIONS. The publications from the Federal level, including the Statute, the IM’s, the A.C.F. Head Start strategic plan itself, the training guides –all were written at different times by different groups of people. There are different – and sometimes conflicting – definitions of, for example, a purpose, a mission, a goal, an objective, a performance measure and an indicator. I will help you reconcile these conflicts.
7. FINISH DEVELOPING YOUR LOCAL OUTCOME INDICATORS. There are 24 mandated performance measures and in theory YOU are responsible for developing local indicators of how you are doing on all 24 (IM-00-03). The Head Start Bureau intended to provide an array of options for all 24 indicators. They started developing examples of indicators and provided you with examples for the first 8 (the child outcomes) of the 24 (in IM-00-18) But then they stopped. In both the 2002 and the 2003 HHS/ACF national performance reports, we see that Head Start is reporting nationally on only 12 of the 24 mandated measures, and most of the data are from FACES instead of from the local programs. I think what happened here is that (a) the leadership on development of the whole range of outcomes to cover the entire program came primarily form the late Helen Taylor, and (b) the daily workload of the organization was challenged with Presidential Initiatives (fatherhood, literacy, etc) and (c) everybody’s attention shifted to the National Reporting System and its emphasis on the child outcomes. Your curriculum vendor is providing you with tools for the child outcomes, but YOU STILL ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR DEVELOPING THE OTHERS. You should have something for your own use – and that you can show to an auditor or to a review team -- on all 24 measures. YOU WILL LEAVE THIS WORKSHOP WITH DRAFT MEASURES FOR ALL 24.
8. OVERCOME TYPICAL PROCESS CHALLENGES. There are some typical reasons that most plans either never get finished at all or never get used, such as: a. No compelling reason for doing the plan in the first place. b. There is no planning system and no step-by-step process, so people do not know what to do. c. The people involved in the process drown in data. d. The staff who are managing the planning process burn out. e. The process gets loaded down with other local issues. We should you how to avoid these problems and the 6 other most common mistakes.
Bring your issues and challenges for discussion. You get an excellent Seminar Workbook and exercises to help you build your plan. You get 40 handouts – just about everything in print that relates to Head Start planning. It is a real library.
Come get "unstuck." Get a handle on this whole results and outcomes issue, learn how to use the Federal Review tool to structure your planning, clear the fog, and light a beacon for your local process.
Results/Outcomes and Planning for Head Start Programs: We shape this draft agenda to meet your need.
1. A brief history of strategic planning in human service programs.
3. Strategic Planning in H.H.S.
4. Compare and contrast strategic planning processes for possible use in your local Head Start program. You may decide to adopt elements from one or more of these approaches:
5. How various pieces fit together – or don’t.
6. The incredible challenges with measuring results and outcomes in human development. The social science methods are very difficult to use. That is why FACES and the Impact Evaluation are national studies. Locally -- don’t bite off more than you can chew!
We will review several approaches to outcome measurement:
"Now you’ve got the background needed, let’s create your local approach!"
7. Create your plan-for-planning and the framework for your plan. "Hands on" exercises to:
You will leave this seminar with:
Yes, we can do this seminar for your staff, Policy Council, Sponsor Board/staff, delegate agencies, the trainers you will use locally -- and anybody else you want. Limited to 75 participants per session. This is especially good for working out an approach with delegate agencies about how to develop a plan together. Or, get several sponsors to share the cost. The basic cost for a two-day session is $2,500, plus travel and printing costs. Create the consensus you need to get your process moving!
Jim Masters, President of the Center for Community Futures, has worked with Head Start Programs since 1966 when he started work at the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity as a Field Representative. His first job at OEO was processing applications for what was then the summer Head Start program! Jim sponsors the Summer Institutes on Family Development, publishes Policies on Diskette, the Review READY! Workbooks (1998-2010), the Policy Manager Software and many other tools for local Head Start programs. Jim worked with Federal agencies on their G.P.R.A. strategic planning for several years, and is on the H.H.S. A.C.F. O.C.S. Monitoring and Assistance Task Force which developed ROMA. He has facilitated many local strategic planning processes, including the successful $158,000,000 school bond issue for Berkeley schools. He has conducted dozens of workshops on strategic planning. Check out his full bio and the tools for Head Start at www.cencomfut.com/jim.htm
"Samples and drafts were excellent! The trainer has extensive knowledge about the subject." -- Naimah Sierra, Director of Planning, Action for Better Community, Rochester, NY
"Just outstanding. Very grateful for the information and materials." -- Steve Hoffman, MIS Manager.
"Jim is a valuable resource." -- Shirley Hall, Deputy Director of Early Childhood, ABC Head Start Program, Rochester, NY
"Excellent!" -- Eric Record, Program Operations Manager, Community Action of NE Indiana, Ft. Wayne, IN
"Practical suggestions. Interesting experiences. Excellent knowledge of human services." -- Barbara Metcalf, Administrative Assistant, Central Texas Opportunities, Coleman, TX
If you would like more information about the Head Start Strategic Planning Seminars, call
Jim Masters at 510-459-7570.
Center for Community Futures. www.cencomfut.com
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