Organizational Leadership

Management Systems Wheel

The Head Start Management Systems Wheel is a visual representation of the 12 program management, planning, and oversight systems that are critical to high-quality service delivery.

  • Download the handout version of the Management Wheel.
  • Use the following guiding questions to evaluate both existing strengths and areas for growth in Head Start program operations.
  • Hover over a system to learn more.
  • Select a system to access related resources.
Head Start Management Systems WheelProgram GovernanceProgram GovernanceERSEACommunicationFacilities and Learning EnvironmentsRecordkeeping and ReportingTraining and Professional DevelopmentTechnology and Information SystemsTransportationCommunity and Self-AssessmentFiscal ManagementData and EvaluationProgram Planning and Service System DesignHuman ResourcesOngoing Monitoring and Continuous Improvement

Leadership and Governance

  • Consists of three key entities: governing body/Tribal Council, Policy Council, and management staff
  • Provides legal, fiscal, and strategic direction


  • Builds relationships with internal and external stakeholders
  • Helps programs "tell their stories" as they pursue program and school readiness goals

Facilities and Learning Environments

  • Support children and families in indoor and outdoor settings
  • Cultivate spaces that are safe and inspire learning

Recordkeeping and Reporting

  • Builds and maintains a program’s institutional memory
  • Designs and distributes strategic reports and manages recordkeeping activities
  • Informs staff, leadership, and external partners

Training and Professional Development

  • Emphasizes the importance of training and technical assistance (T/TA) for every grantee
  • Offers a range of instructional resources, including federal and regional T/TA staff and online resources

Technology and Information Systems

  • Maintain the infrastructure needed to address the increased reliance on data collection and analysis
  • Select, manage, and provide training on the appropriate hardware and software needed to monitor progress


  • Ensures the safe and efficient movement of children
  • Meets needs in a consistent manner that are in compliance with state and federal regulations

Community and Self-Assessment

  • Initiates the program planning process
  • Provides the right services to the right population (external focus)
  • Supports continuous quality improvement (internal focus)

Fiscal Management

  • Accounts for federal assets and compliance with regulations
  • Includes internal controls
  • Helps program leaders collaborate as they develop budgets to address goals and priorities

Data and Evaluation

  • Drives data-based decision-making
  • Informs each stage of the program planning cycle
  • Uses qualitative and quantitative measures to ensure effective program management

Program Planning and Service System Design

  • Guides programs through their five-year grant
  • Includes service plans that directly impact children and families

Human Resources

  • Reminds us that Head Start programs are only as good as their people
  • Ensures that staff and volunteers have the credentials and competencies needed to fulfill responsibilities

Ongoing Monitoring and Continuous Improvement

  • Helps programs adapt to better address goals and objectives
  • Shares data with staff, Policy Councils, and governing bodies to engage everyone in the program planning process

Leadership and governance are the bedrocks of effective management. They encompass and inform the 12 management systems. Head Start program leadership consists of three key entities: the governing body/Tribal Council, Policy Council, and management staff. The governing body/Tribal Council assumes legal and fiscal responsibility for the program. The Policy Council sets direction. Management staff oversee day-to-day operations. Together, they are a powerful force that provides leadership and strategic direction.

The yellow circle outlines the scope of these systems consistent with the five-year project period. The systems support program management, planning, and well-developed oversight systems. This enables programs to comply, increase quality, and strive for excellence.

The segmented aqua blue ring outlines each of the individual management systems. Select a slice to learn more about that system. All of these systems work together to inform and influence the program’s service delivery, represented in the inner blue circle. This includes Eligibility, Recruitment, Selection, Enrollment, and Attendance (ERSEA), Education, Health, Mental Health, Community Partnerships, and Family Engagement.

When innovative leadership, strong management systems, and well-designed services are working together, quality child and family outcomes are the results.