Tip Sheet - Tools for Facilities Assessment

This tip sheet identifies resources to help Head Start planning committees assess Head Start facilities. It includes the Head Start Facilities Manual and the Assessment of Properties tool. The Manual outlines five steps for evaluating existing facilities and includes 13 assessment worksheets. The Assessment of Properties tool includes information to help planning committee members decide whether renovation or new construction is the better option.    


The Head Start Facilities Manual suggests five steps to follow in evaluating existing facilities.

  1. Review program quality of each facility, including compliance with Head Start Program Performance Standards.
  2. Assess the physical plant, including the condition of buildings, outbuildings, and grounds, including the playgrounds, mechanical (plumbing, heating and electrical), roof, kitchen, fire safety, and flooring.
  3. Determine the cost-effectiveness of planned improvements, including balancing costs and benefits against making all improvements at once or phasing in improvements over several years. Consider the useful life of the facility, transportation patterns, and the location of other childcare facilities.
  4. Identify centers that should be relocated. Consider relocating to a new facility when a center has serious quality problems (i.e., life, health, and safety problems), when costs of needed improvements are too high in comparison with the benefits to the program, when relations with the landlord are unstable or unsatisfactory, or when the target population is moving away from the neighborhood where the Head Start center is located.
  5. Identify facilities that could be expanded. Consider adding classrooms, modular facilities, or where appropriate, building new facilities.

The Head Start Facilities Manual also includes 13 worksheets to aid with assessments. [PDF, 432KB]

The Deep Look Survey

This is a comprehensive assessment tool developed for the assessment of a Head Start facility. It was developed by the Office of Head Start and the Health Resources & Services Administration’s, Office of Engineering Services. A Planning Committee considering the purchase and/or renovation of an existing facility should use this tool.

The Deep Look Survey  was designed for professionals with a working knowledge of facilities and construction in specific construction disciplines. For example, the Checklist for Alarm Detection and Extinguishments Systems (NFPA 101) requires completion by a professional with a comprehensive understanding of the NFPA code requirements. The Electrical Checklist requires a licensed electrician and the OES Existing Head Start Facilities Life Safety Checklist requires knowledge in the Life Safety Codes as they relate to Chapter 31, Existing Day Care Occupancies.

The above-mentioned checklists along with the other sections of the Deep Look Survey will produce a comprehensive assessment of an existing Head Start facility or a facility under consideration for purchase or renovation. [PDF, 230KB]

Assessment of Properties

This tool (Assessment of Properties) can be utilized to assess specific details required for a property with an existing facility. [PDF, 36KB]

The committee may examine the Renovation Elements (Items to Consider), and review the New Construction Checklist to determine if renovation or new construction is the better option. [PDF, 28KB] 

Tip Sheet - Tools for Facilities Assessment. HHS/ACF/OHS. n.d. English.

Last Reviewed: January 2010

Last Updated: September 8, 2015