10.1 Management Systems That Support Child and Family Development Services


What Is It?

Each HS and EHS program creates program design and management systems that directly relate to the work you do to provide a solid child- and family-focused foundation for your home-based services. The National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations1 suggest that twelve systems need to be in place for a program to effectively carry out its work. Program leadership and governance require a program management, planning, and oversight system.

Systems needed to operate the program include the following

  1. Program planning and service system design
  2. Training and professional development
  3. Communication
  4. Record keeping and reporting
  5. Ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement
  6. Community and self-assessment
  7. Human resources
  8. Technology and information systems
  9. Transportation
  10. Facilities and learning environments
  11. Data and evaluation
  12. Fiscal management

  1. NCPMFO. Head Start Systems Management Wheel. https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/operations/mang-sys. 2017 

How To

Here are examples of actions you might take for each system.

1. Program planning and service system design

  • Encourage parents to serve on your program’s policy council, policy committee, and/or parent committee.
  • Provide information and training for Policy Council, policy committee, and/or parent committee members on theory, research, and best practices for delivering high-quality home-based child and family development services. This can help parents make informed decisions about program planning, staff hiring, and budget development.
  • Encourage home-based program parents to form subcommittees for providing input on selecting curricula and screening and ongoing assessment tools; articulating family interests and needs; and planning relevant developmental activities.
  • Articulate a program philosophy and structure for delivering child and family services in families’ homes. Ensure that home visitors, other program staff, and those outside of your program such as community partners are familiar with the philosophy/structure and have easy access to information.
  • Conduct an annual strategic planning session or retreat that focuses on integrating high-quality child and family development home-based services throughout the program.

2. Training and professional development

See chapter 5

3. Communication

  • Establish formal and informal communication strategies that highlight child and family development and the purpose for home-based services. These might include the following:
    • Reviewing and emphasizing, from the start, the importance of joint planning with parents and supporting parents to provide learning opportunities that enhance their child’s growth and development.
    • Posting special notices about service or program changes on staff bulletin boards or in emails.
    • Including an issue relevant to child and family service delivery at each policy council and/or policy committee meeting.
    • Creating and distributing a program newsletter for families and staff that includes a regular section on quality services for children and families and a special section on family accomplishments.

4. Record keeping and reporting

  • Establish a system for tracking services provided to children and families.
  • Review narrative and referral records monthly to ensure that child and family development services indicated by the family partnership process are provided.
  • Review health records and immunizations to ensure they are up to date; review home visitors’ reports to see if home visitors check on well-baby visits and immunizations during each home visit.

5. Ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement
Programs use ongoing monitoring to ask, “Are we doing things right and on time?”

  • Review the HSPPS during supervision and professional development opportunities to ensure that home visitors understand the purpose of HS in general and the standards related to home-based programs in particular.
  • Set aside time on a regular basis to review home visitors’ reports and other records and to conduct joint visits with home visitors to observe their interactions with families and children. This is to ensure your program is proceeding in accordance with the HSPPS and other best practices for delivering high-quality child and family development services.

6. Community and self-assessment
Programs use the annual self-assessment process to ask, “Are we doing the right things?”

  • Participate in and facilitate relevant program self-assessment practices, such as involving Policy Council and community members; thoroughly reviewing data related to child and family development and outcomes, including school readiness, family goals, child health, home visit and socialization attendance, and referrals to and services used by parents/families; and developing recommendations for growth, improvement, and new directions.
  • Discuss the purpose and process of the annual self-assessment during staff meetings, supervision, and professional development opportunities.
  • Ensure that self-assessment results are shared and discussed with home visitors, families, and community partners.
  • Understand the needs of the community that the Head Start program can meet.

7. Human resources

  • Calculate the number of home visitors needed to serve your funded enrollment of children.
  • Hire staff who are relationship ready and have the appropriate knowledge base, experiences, and skills for working with young children and their families. Ensure staff reflect the culture and speak the language(s) of families, if possible. See Chapter 4 on selecting staff for more information.
  • Determine salaries for home-based staff, considering retention and quality issues as appropriate.
  • Use consultants, external professional development opportunities, websites, and other resources to provide home visitors with up-to-date, relevant information on child and family development. See Chapter 5 in this Handbook on professional development for more information.
  • Keep accurate, complete, and up-to-date documentation on any administrative issues addressed with home visitors in accordance with your program’s human resources policies and protocols.

8. Technology and information systems

  • Maintain the infrastructure needed to support the increased reliance on data collection and analysis.
  • Select and manage appropriate hardware (computers) and software (e.g., Child Plus, PROMIS, Teaching Strategies Gold, etc.) that enable programs to monitor their progress.

9. Transportation

  • Provide for safe and efficient movement of children from one point to another.
  • Ensure transportation systems are consistent with service area needs and are in compliance with state and federal regulations.

10. Facilities and learning environments

  • Maintain a notebook, file of articles, and/or library of resources related to child and family development, home visiting, curriculum experiences, observation, screening/ongoing assessment, and other relevant topics.
  • Build and maintain a sufficient collection of homemade toys, books, utensils, manipulatives, interactive objects, and other stimulating materials that are developmentally and culturally appropriate, for use during socializations.
  • Make sure that all equipment used for socializations is designed to support child and family development. Have appropriate feeding equipment (e.g., high chairs, child-sized tables and chairs) and sleeping equipment (e.g., cribs, cots, mats, and blankets) on hand.
  • Ensure that facilities and other spaces used for group socializations can support child and family development. Consider whether the space is physically accessible, easy for families to get to, meets licensing standards, is comfortable for both children and adults, and lends itself to parent-child experiences and adult peer group interactions.
  • Provide home visitors with equipment that makes their work more efficient and safe (e.g., laptops, tablets, video cameras, cell phones, beepers).

11. Data and evaluation

  • Use data for decision-making and evaluation
  • Use data for all your decisions about supervision and professional development

12. Fiscal management

  • Ensures accountability for federal assets, compliance with regulations, and includes internal controls.
  • Ensures appropriate reporting systems are in place and program leadership work in partnership to develop and execute a budget that reflects and supports program goals and priorities.

Experience It

Management Systems that Support Child and Family Development Services

Angie Godfrey introduces the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) around supervision and human resources.

To view the full webinar, go to: Growing Programs, Growing People: Reflective Leadership in Early Head Start Virtual New Leaders' Meeting



Learn More

This paper is a primer on the types of plans that Head Start and Early Head Start programs most commonly create and implement


These 10 management systems create a framework for you to understand how best to support services for children and their families. They serve as strong standards for effective management of your program.