Technology Plan Reference Guide

Technology planning will help agencies save money on technology, buy what they need, and use technology as a tool to accomplish the organization's mission. Head Start managers and Information Technology staff will find this information and the attached template useful in developing a technology plan.

Table of contents
1. Overview: Head Start E-Rate Technology Plan
     1.1 Scope
     1.2 Sequence: the planning cycle
2. Cover Page and Table of Contents
     2.1 Cover page
     2.2 Table of contents
3. Core Element I: Agency Profile, Goals, and Strategies
     3.1 Agency profile
     3.2 E-Rate technology plan summary
     3.3 Agency vision and mission statements
     3.4 Technology planning committee
     3.5 Goals and strategies
4. Core Element II: Professional Development
5. Core Element III: Assessment
     5.1 Assessment
     5.2 E-Rate discounted services
     5.3 Schematics and diagram of the organization's network
6 Core Element IV: Budget
7. Core Element V: Evaluation and Monitoring
8. Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
     8.1 Technology protection measure
     8.2 Internet safety policy
     8.3 Public notice and hearing

1. Overview: Head Start E-Rate Technology Plans

1.1 Scope
A technology plan is required for E-Rate applicants requesting discounts for internal connections (wiring, hubs, switches, cabling, etc.); and basic maintenance for internal connections. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires E-Rate applicants to base their requests on an approved technology plan. A Technology Plan Approver (TPA) certified by Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) must approve the applicant's technology plan before the applicant may receive any services. Although Head Start grantees are not required to use this Reference Guide and accompanying Template, the Template and Reference Guide have been developed to meet the requirements outlined by the FCC and USAC. This Reference Guide provides definitions, samples, issues to consider, tables, and other tools to assist in creating and documenting the agency's plans. The template covers the four elements required by USAC that must be included in a technology plan in order to gain approval:

  • Goals and realistic strategies for using telecommunications and information technology
  • A professional development strategy
  • Needs assessment for telecommunication, hardware, software, and other services
  • Ongoing evaluation process.

A budget is no longer required but information on budgeting is still included in this guide. Most agencies have already developed components that can become part of the E-Rate Technology Plan, such as agency profile and mission and vision statements. Furthermore, goal setting, development of strategies, ongoing assessment, and budgeting are typical processes for Head Start programs.

Collecting and organizing information for a technology plan will help the applicant complete the E-Rate Form 470, Description of Services Requested and Certification and Form 471 Service Ordered and Certification. Documenting an educational purpose or need for services will help applicants complete the "Summary Description of Needs or Services Requested" in Block 2 of Form 470. The approved plan should be consistent with the "Technology Resources" in Block 3 and should support the "Certifications" in Block 5 of Form 470. The approved plan should be consistent with similar information blocks in Form 471 and should support the "Certifications" in Forms 471 and 486 Receipt of Service Confirmation Form. These forms can be found on the USAC web site at

1.2 Sequence: the planning cycle
The Office of Head Start recommends that plans align with the E-Rate Fiscal Years that start each year on July 1 and end on June 30 of the following year. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that Technology Plans should be written prior to filing Form 470 and includes the period for which E-Rate discounts are requested. The period covered may not exceed 3 years from the date of approval.

Technology Plans MUST be developed by all Head Start grantees applying for E-Rate beyond basic telephone service, as described in the current E-Rate Eligible Services List. Basic telephone service is defined as landline or wireless single-line voice service, e.g., local, cellular, and/or long distance, as well as mandatory fees associated with such service, e.g., federal and state taxes, universal service fees, etc.

The Technology Plan expiration date will be listed on the certification letter the grantee will receive from the TPA and will be less than 3 years from the date of approval. For example: a three-year plan signed after November 15, 2006 and approved prior to July 1, 2007 will expire on or before November 15, 2009. Technology Plans must be reviewed annually (refer to Core Elements III and V). Plans should be modified as needed but if substantial changes are made, the plan must be resubmitted for approval as changes in goals or changes that make previously eligible equipment ineligible for E-Rate.

Important note: Direct participation by potential service providers in developing detailed plans should be avoided, as it could prohibit considering the vendor participation during the E-Rate bidding process. Service providers should not assist grantees with completing Form 470. Applicants are encouraged to ask service providers to assist in the completion of Form 471 and item 21 attachments. Service providers may NOT provide in-kind services and equipment.

2. Cover Page and Table of Contents

2.1 Cover page
Description: the cover page should contain all the information identifying the agency, the main office address and telephone number, the title of the submission, the names and functions of three top executives as well as their phone numbers and email addresses. It also should include a signatory line for the authorized executive to sign and date.

Sample Cover Page

2.2 Table of contents
Description: The Table of Content reflects the organization of the plan and also constitutes the framework for the Approver to seek and find the information submitted in support of the application – see Approver's checklist.

Table 2. Sample table of content
      Page Number
1. Core Element I: Agency Profile, Goals and Strategies      
     A. Agency Profile      
     B. E-Rate Technology Plan Summary      
     C. Agency Mission and Vision Statements      
     D. Technology Planning Committee      
     E. Goals and Strategies      
2. Core Element II: Professional Development      
3. Core Element III: Assessment      
     A. Assessment of Services and Equipment      
     B. E-Rate Discounted Services      
     C. Needs and Planned Acquisitions      
4. Core Element IV: Budget      
5. Core Element V: Evaluation and Monitoring      
6. Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA): Compliance and Policy      
7. Technology Plan Certification Page;      

3. Core Element I: Agency Profile, Goals, and Strategies

3.1 Agency profile
Description: The agency profile should include basic information pertinent to the applicant's technology plan. The profile should provide a suitable context and sufficient information for the Technology Plan Approver to assess the soundness of the submitted plan.

Questions to consider:

  1. What is the enrollment size of the applicant's Head Start program?
  2. Where is the program located?
  3. What geographic area does the program serve?
  4. Have there been significant changes in the demographics of your geographic area within the last three years? If so, describe these changes.
  5. What are the challenges and the impact of these changes?

Sample agency profile.

Sample agency profile - list of educational facilities/centers.

Sample agency profile - list of all administative and non-instructional facilities.

3.2 E-Rate technology plan summary
Description: The E-Rate technology plan summary describes the key elements of the technology plan and the goals.

Table 6. Sample E-Rate technology plan summary.

The technology plan for Head Start Best Early Childhood Ever, Inc.'s E-rate application identifies two key projects designed to increase the use of timely and accurate data on Head Start children and their families. The Family Information System (FIS) project will enable teachers, family caseworkers and management staff to monitor all aspects of enrollment and family services. The Child Outcomes Project will give teachers, the Child Development Manager and other education staff access to a comprehensive set of data and reports on each child's educational and developmental progress. The plan details the two projects' system installation, pilot testing, staff training, procedural development, monitoring methods and budget that will initiate and sustain the systems.

3.3 Agency vision and mission statements
Vision statement:

Description: A vision statement expresses what an agency strives to be and how others view it. It defines where the organization wants to be in the future and projects the optimistic view of the organization's future. More information on vision statements in Head Start is available in Participating in the Management Process, a Training Guide for the Head Start Learning Community. The Training Guide can be found on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) at

Table 7. Sample vision statement.The Head Start – Best Early Childhood Ever, Inc. agency strives to become known as the community "wellness agency" through the creation and delivery of services designed to enhance wellness across all dimensions for people of all ages.

Mission or purpose statement:
Description: A mission statement is a brief, general description of the organization's plans for achieving the vision. An organization's mission statement describes what the organization is going to do, and explains why.

Table 8. Sample mission statement. The mission of Head Start – Best Early Childhood Ever, Inc. is to provide quality early childhood learning experiences and comprehensive child and family services, which empower low-income families and their children to maximize their success.

3.4 Technology Planning Committee
Description: Development of the technology plan and implementation of the plan should enable parents, teachers, and staff as well as the local community to benefit from the investment in technology. A Technology Planning Committee guides the development and implementation of the plan. All stakeholders should have representation on the committee. The governing body and policy council must approve the plan.

Table 9. Sample Technology Planning Committee.
Technology Committee
Member's Name Title Constituency represented
Smith, Robert G. Head Start Director HSBECE Management
Wesson, Clifford Parent HSBECE Policy Council
Good, Zeke MIS Director HSBECE IT Staff
Samoto, Alice Teacher HSBECE Staff
Walton, Smantha Volunteer Community

3.5 Goals and strategies
Description: The plan must establish clear goals and a realistic strategy for using telecommunications and information technology to improve education services. List and describe the specific goals, objectives, and strategies for use of technology. The goals, objectives, and strategies should be based on the results of the technology needs assessment. Realistic goals should be established for the next three years.

Sample technology projects in Head Start include:

  • Technology as a tool for parental involvement and communication
  • Technology integration with curriculum and instruction
  • Technology for delivery of media, such as flash drives, satellite television, videoconferencing
  • Technology for administrative support
  • Increase/improve technology access for teachers, parents and children
  • Technology as a tool for delivery of staff development

Issues to Consider:

  1. What goals have been identified that improve a child's ability to learn, enrich the educational experience of children, increase the effectiveness of teachers and parents, or enhance the Head Start program's overall performance?
  2. What accompanying strategies have been identified to reach these goals?
  3. What specific telecommunications and information technologies – such as access to the Internet, remote databases, distance learning, etc. – are useful in helping the agency reach its goals?
  4. What specific resources, e.g., trainers, curricular software, Internet access, links to subscribed databases, etc., will be used?
  5. What are the technology strategies to help ensure compliance with the Head Start Program Performance Standards and other regulations?
  6. Will the agency provide parents or staff with access to courses delivered online or through interactive television or other distance learning technologies? What groups do these programs serve?
  7. Will the agency provide materials in various formats and languages, including digital format, video?
  8. Are there plans to implement an innovative initiative with laptops or handheld devices?
  9. Will the teachers and administrators use technology for decision making or communicating?
  10. Are computerized or on-line assessments used?
  11. How will the Head Start program use technology effectively to promote parent involvement and increase communication with parents?

Sample goals, objectives and activities.

4. Core Element II: Professional Development

Description: The plan must include professional development strategies to ensure that staff members know how to use new technologies to improve education. Describe professional development related to achieving the goals and objectives:

  • Provide a statement describing how enhancing the capabilities of the Head Start teachers, staff, and administrators to utilize technology are vital to reaching goals.
  • Describe planned training opportunities to foster the appropriate skills so that existing and emerging Information Technologies and telecommunications resources will be fully incorporated and achieve high returns on the investment in technology.

Issues to Consider:

  1. How will the staff member's technology skills be evaluated?
  2. How will the staff be trained?
  3. Are TA funds used to train staff in technology?
  4. Is skill progression tracked and progress reported in staff members' individual career plans?
  5. Are there guidelines and incentives for staff participation in training?
  6. What are the methods of ongoing internal monitoring of staff skill progression?
  7. Are there mentoring, coaching, or train-the-trainer programs for educating staff, volunteers and parents on equipment and services?
  8. Are instructional resources provided, such as reference manuals and publications, so staff may improve their technical proficiencies at their own pace?
  9. Do technology staff members pursue outside training for professional certifications?
  10. How do technology staff members stay current on new or emerging technology?
  11. Do technology staff members participate in conferences to learn about best practices?
  12. How are staff members trained on computer-based data collection, such as PIR, child assessments, and attendance?
  13. Are staff members encouraged to use e-mail correspondence?
  14. Are staff members using the Internet to research answers to questions?
  15. How are parents informed of Head Start policies on appropriate use of technology?

Sample professional development goals, objectives and activities.

5. Core Element III: Assessment

The plan must include an assessment of the telecommunication services, staff skills, hardware, software, and other services needed to improve education services.

5.1 Assessment
Description: Assessment of Services and Equipment – Conducting an assessment involves identifying the technology needs of the entire organization and its stakeholders. If available, use the previous technology plan to evaluate progress. When assessing services and equipment, use terminology found in the E-Rate Eligible Services List. Information Technology staff, current service providers, and vendors can provide assistance comparing current systems with new technology. Surveys and ongoing reports from Information Technology staff should be considered during the assessment. It may be necessary to conduct a telecommunications audit using outside resources, such as vendors and consultants.

Issues to Consider:

  1. How was the needs assessment conducted (e.g., staff questionnaires, focus groups, etc.)?
  2. Who participated in the needs assessment?
  3. What were some of the critical components of the needs assessment?
  4. What were some of the key results of the needs assessment?
  5. What are your agency's current staff knowledge and skills as they pertain to this project?
  6. Computers and network devices - provide a table with an inventory of equipment; include the life cycle of the equipment.
  7. Telecommunications – list the number of lines and equipment by center or facility.
  8. Internet access and services – identify the types of service, speed, and quality/reliability of service. Consider using staff and teacher evaluations and comments to develop new requirements.
  9. Software Inventory – provide a list of all the software used by your organization. Identify operating systems, virus protection, firewall and anti-spam software. Include version numbers.
  10. Emerging Technologies and other Technologies – list emerging technologies considered, such as television, satellite system, video conferencing devices, recruiting kiosks. Include the life cycle of the equipment.

Sample assessment table for E-Rate technology plan: computers and network devices.

Sample assessment table for E-Rate technology plan: telecommunication.

Sample assessment table for E-Rate technology plan: Internet access.

Sample assessment table for E-Rate technology plan: software.

Sample assessment table for E-Rate technology plan: emerging technologies.

5.2 E-Rate discounted services

Description: List existing services and equipment needed to accomplish the plan. Identify additional services needed to meet goals and objectives. List hardware and software you plan to purchases to support the goals and objectives. The Eligibility Services List on the USAC/SL web site is a useful reference to use when developing your list. Collecting and organizing this information to complete your lists will help you complete the E-Rate Forms 470 and 471. Organize requests using the four eligible categories of service:

  1. Telecommunications services: The services used to communicate information electronically between sites. They must be provided by a telecommunications carrier, i.e., an organization recognized by the FCC as providing telecommunications services on a common carrier basis. Examples of telecommunications services include basic telephone service and digital transmission services such as T-1 lines.
  2. Internet access: Basic conduit access to the Internet including e-mail is eligible for discount and can be provided by a telecommunications carrier or any commercial organization.
  3. Internal connections: Internal connections consist of the wiring and components that expand data access within a Head Start center or classroom. Internal connections can be provided by any commercial organization
  4. Basic maintenance of internal connections: Basic maintenance of internal connections consists of services necessary to enable the continued operation of the eligible equipment. It includes: repair and upkeep of eligible hardware, wire and cable maintenance, basic technical support, and configuration changes.

Finally, identify services provided that are not eligible for E-Rate discounts.

5.3 Schematics and diagram of the organization's network:
Description: Include a diagram that represents the elements of your computer network Provide schematics of your current and planned system.

Diagram of current telephone, FAX and Communication links.
Figure 1. Sample current telephone, fax, and communication links.

Diagram of current Internet Connectivity backbone.
Figure 2. Sample current Internet connectivity backbone.

Diagram of planned Internet Connectivity backbone.
Figure 3. Sample planned connectivity backbone.

Diagram of planned Local Area Network for the Vaughan Center.
Figure 4. Sample center planned Local Area Network (LAN).

6. Core Element IV: Budget (No longer a required element)

Description: The plan must provide an adequate budget to acquire and support all the non-E-Rate discounted elements of the plan; the hardware, software, professional development and other services needed to implement the strategy. Budget all costs to implement this plan and include current year costs and plans related to non-E-Rate discounted elements, such as Professional Development Training costs, desktop computer purchases, cell phone hardware purchases.

  • Create a budget table – see example on the following page. Include the four E-Rate categories of services as a framework for the budget table. The four categories are: telecommunication services, Internet access, internal connections, and basic maintenance of internal connections.
  • Maintain detailed work sheets outlining specific cost estimates for equipment such as computers, printers, phone, or speakers. Do not submit the work sheets with the plan but keep them on file.
  • Community Action Agencies receiving reimbursements should maintain documentation that will demonstrate how E-Rate funds are reinvested in the Head Start grant or other education services.
  • If the local fiscal year does not match funding years for E-Rate on budget documents, make appropriate notes on the budget sheets.
  • Provide an explanation for grants, donations or in-kind services. More information can be found on the USAC web site at

Important Note: It is prohibited for Service Providers participating in the E-Rate program to provide in-kind services.
Special rules apply when eligible and ineligible services are bundled.

Sample Budget Table

0 – Definitions maintained with work sheets.
1 – 2008 first year E-Rate discounts application submitted.
2 – E-mail services outsourced in 2009, E-mail archive services, and network domain controller purchased with E-Rate reimbursed funds in 2009.
3 – State training on E-Rate available in 2009, 50/50 fund match.
4 – New application software for desktop computers purchased in 2009.
5 – Classroom desktop computer replacement purchases.
6 – Anticipated equipment replacement costs.
7 – Salaries and consultant fees as well as service provider's technical support fee.
8 – Video conferencing (all centers, central office, and adult education center) to university for distance learning.
9 – Anticipated non-eligible use, service or equipment. Include facilities shared/rented to state election commission, city government.

7. Core Element V: Evaluation and Monitoring

Description: The plan must include an evaluation process that enables the Head Start program to both monitor progress toward the specified goals and make mid-course corrections in response to new developments and opportunities as they arise. The description of the process should include monthly and annual activities, such as e.g., periodic testing of equipment, staff surveys, staff skills assessments, child/parent interviews and/or classroom observation documentation, budget/report analysis. The process should address the following evaluation categories:

  • Connectivity and infrastructure
  • Hardware
  • Integration and use of technology
  • Professional development
  • Fiscal support of technology

Issues to Consider:

  1. What measures of performance have been incorporated into the plan to determine whether its implementation was effective in achieving your organization's objectives?
  2. How often will the progress on your organization's plan be evaluated?
  3. Who will conduct the evaluation?
  4. Who will be responsible for documenting and analyzing the evaluation process?
  5. What evidence exists that the previous technology plan was evaluated?
  6. What will be done with the information gathered? The evaluation? How will it be used to improve the technology systems?

8. Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)

Description: To receive support for Internet access and internal connections services from the Universal Service Fund (USF), the Head Start Grantee must certify that staff are enforcing a policy of Internet safety that includes measures to block or filter Internet access for both minors and adults to inappropriate content. In general, Head Start programs must certify either that:

  • they have complied with the requirements of CIPA; or
  • they are undertaking actions, including any necessary procurement procedures, to comply with the requirements of CIPA; or
  • CIPA does not apply to them because they are receiving discounts for telecommunications services only.

CIPA requirements include the following three items: the Technology protection measure, Internet safety policy, and Public notice and hearing.

8.1 Technology protection measure
A technology protection measure is a specific technology that blocks or filters Internet access. It must protect against access by adults and minors to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or — with respect to use of computers with Internet access by minors — harmful to minors. It may be disabled for adults engaged in bona fide research or other lawful purposes. The policy must also include monitoring the online activities of minors.

8.2 Internet safety policy
The Internet safety policy must address the following issues:

  • Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web
  • The safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications
  • Unauthorized access including "hacking" and other unlawful activities by minors online
  • Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors
  • Measures designed to restrict minors' access to materials harmful to minors

8.3 Public notice and hearing
The authority with responsibility for administration of the Head Start agency must provide reasonable public notice and hold at least one public hearing to address a proposed technology protection measure and Internet safety policy.

See also:

     Office of Head Start E-Rate Technology Plan Template

Technology Plan Reference Guide. E-Rate Toolkit. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2012. English.

Last Reviewed: October 2012

Last Updated: August 7, 2015