Streamlined” is a word you’ll hear often to describe the new Head Start Program Performance Standards (the “HSPPS”).  Part 1302, subpart I – which addresses human resources management– is one section that lives up to the hype.  While the old regulations had us thumbing through 3 subchapters, 5 subparts and 10 provisions to find human resources rules, the new regulations organize those rules into 5 provisions, all located in one subpart.

But are the new human resources rules as easy to implement as they are to find?  Some programs may struggle, especially if they don’t prepare.  Take these steps to ensure that your program’s transition to the new HSPPS is as organized as the new rules themselves.

  1. Review, modify and implement personnel policies. The new regulations, like the old regulations, require written personnel policies that are (1) approved by the governing body and policy council and (2) available to staff.  While this requirement isn’t new, most programs will need to modify some of their current personnel policies to comply with the new HSPPS.  The new regulations, for example, require changes in the areas of background checks, staff qualifications and professional development.  Identifying outdated personnel policies, proposing modifications and obtaining governing body and policy council approval are time-consuming.  Begin now to stay ahead of the curve.
  2. Develop a personnel plan. The new regulations include significant changes to the minimum qualifications for Head Start staff.  Some of these changes are “grandfathered,” meaning that only new staff hired after November 7, 2016 must possess the required qualification (Head Start directors hired after November 7, 2016 must have a baccalaureate degree and relevant experience, for example).  Other changes have a delayed effective date, meaning that staff need not possess the newly required qualification until a later date (child development specialists, for example, must have a baccalaureate degree in child development, early childhood education, or a related field by August 1, 2018).  To adjust to these new qualifications, start by evaluating current personnel to ensure that staff members have or will have minimum qualifications within the time periods provided for in the regulations.  Next, review job descriptions to determine whether they need to be updated.
  3. Evaluate your training and professional development program. The new regulations require a greater commitment to training and professional development.  Programs must implement a “systematic approach to staff training and professional development” and a “research-based, coordinated coaching strategy.”  Does your current training and professional development program meet the new standard?  If not, identify any necessary changes.  As always, once your new training and professional development program is in place, keep meticulous records.  Maintain certificates of completion in employee files!  If training and professional development is provided in-house, require employees to sign-in and keep a copy of the sign-in sheets.
  4. Evaluate your budget. If this blog post has you seeing dollar signs, you’re not alone!  We’ve heard from programs concerned about how to pay for all of this.  Preparation is your best friend.  Establish a plan, realistically estimate the costs of your plan (check out the Office of Head Start’s budget estimates as a starting point), and begin to think about funding as soon as possible.  While the amount of your funding may not be completely within your control, preparation and planning will help you make the most of every dollar.  And these days, stretching your budget will be a major key to success.