Foundations for Excellence: Planning in Head Start

The Office of Head Start National Centers have produced this series of papers to support programs in developing and implementing their planning systems. They may be useful to Head Start leaders and management teams, including governing body and Policy Council members. Note: These resources are under review.

The Head Start planning systems and related activities are an essential part of program operations. Thoughtful planning has always been critical to successful programming. However, it becomes even more important as programs shift from an indefinite grant period to a five year project period. Federal Oversight of Five Year Head Start Grants (ACF-IM-HS-14-02) and the five year grant applications require programs to describe and define:

  • Long-term goals they will accomplish during the five-year period
  • Short-term objectives
  • Expected outcomes that are aligned with the goals and objectives
  • Data tools and methods for tracking progress towards their goals, objectives, and expected outcomes

Grantees report on this progress in their yearly continuation applications over the course of the five year project period.

These papers can help programs develop plans for tracking their progress in a meaningful way. Get started by downloading the entire Foundations for Excellence: Planning in Head Start booklet [PDF, 5MB] or the individual papers:

Introduction: Program Planning Topics in Head Start [PDF, 512KB] provides an overview of the series and includes a useful glossary of terms.

Topic No. 2: Plans in Head Start [PDF, 626KB] is a primer on the types of plans that Head Start and Early Head Start programs most commonly create and implement.

Topic No. 3: Program Goals and School Readiness Goals�Understanding the Relationship [PDF, 575KB] addresses the importance of keeping goals alive. It also includes frequently asked questions about the relationship between program goals and school readiness goals.

Topic No. 4: Goals, Objectives, Outcomes, Progress, and Action Plans�Program Examples [PDF, 812KB] offers two examples of what a program's goals, objectives, expected outcomes, and action plans may look like. This paper includes sample planning forms you can use in your program.

Download Sample Forms [PDF, 1MB]

Foundations for Excellence: Planning in Head Start. HHS/ACF/OHS/NCPMFO. 2014. English.

Last Reviewed: December 2016

Last Updated: December 6, 2016