10.1 Management Systems That Support Child and Family Development Services

What Is It?

Part D of the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) specifies 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. These systems include the following:

  • Program governance
  • Planning
  • Communication
  • Record keeping and reporting
  • Ongoing monitoring
  • Annual self assessment
  • Human resources
  • Materials, equipment, and facilities
  • Fiscal management

These systems are also identified in the Head Start Monitoring Protocol, which measures grantee performance and compliance related to HSPPS, Head Start Act, and other fiscal regulations as part of the comprehensive five-year continuous oversight plan. The protocol provides a useful framework for developing effective systems for your home-based program.

How To

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

Program governance

  • 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.


  • 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.

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 at each home visit.

Ongoing monitoring
Programs use ongoing monitoring to ask, “Are we doing things right and on time?”1

  • 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.

Annual self-assessment
Programs use the annual self-assessment process to ask, “Are we doing the right things?”2

  • 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.3
  • 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.

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.

Materials, equipment, and facilities

  • 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).

  1. National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations (PMFO), Tip Sheet: Ideas for Your Annual Self-Assessment Process (Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start, 2015), 2, http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/operations/mang-sys/self-assess/SelfAssessmentT.htm

  2. Ibid. 

  3. National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations (PMFO), Tip Sheet: Ideas for Your Annual Self-Assessment Process

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 tip sheet offers considerations for using feeding chairs within various Early Head Start program settings. Grantee and program administrators may use this resource as a guide when program planning. Applicable Program Performance Standards and resources provide more information.

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

This tip sheet offers Head Start and Early Head Start grantees and delegate agencies a new approach to conducting their annual self-assessments. This approach takes full advantage of the data that programs already collect. It also streamlines the self-assessment process.

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.