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Part 2: Navigating Head Start Attendance Standards and Using Tools for Success

Illustration of people with attendance checkmarks above their heads

In our previous post, Part 1: Early Childhood Attendance & Building a Foundation for Lifelong Success, we explored the significant impact of consistent attendance on the ongoing development of children within the Head Start program. Now, let's dive into the details. Head Start Performance Standards, specifically outlined in section 1302.16, have established the foundation for encouraging regular attendance and addressing potential challenges. Let's take a closer look at the rules that support this commitment. 


The core of these regulations focuses on actively promoting regular attendance through a comprehensive approach. This includes tracking attendance thoroughly, implementing processes to check on absent children, using strategies to boost attendance, and aiding children who have stopped attending in resuming their participation. 


Moreover, there's a strong emphasis on handling systemic program attendance issues. Programs must carefully track monthly average daily attendance, analyze causes of absenteeism—especially for rates falling below the 85% benchmark—and make necessary changes to improve attendance. 


Importantly, these standards also support children experiencing homelessness. Eligible children under homeless criteria must be allowed to attend for up to 90 days (or as mandated by state licensing) without the need for immunization and other records. 


Meeting these standards requires reliable tools that can be consistently used to support the mission. ChildPlus offers tools designed to streamline the attendance tracking process. 


Here are some noteworthy reports and why they are essential: 


2301 – Average Daily Attendance: This report provides a comprehensive view of funded and actual enrollment attendance percentages by classroom and site. It enables tracking of attendance percentages over specific time periods or the entire program year. Offers a breakdown of attendance percentages for individual classrooms, sites, and the program as a whole. 


2305 – Monthly Attendance: This report provides detailed attendance information for each class, including individual child attendance percentages. Essential for monthly reviews with teachers and family support staff to identify attendance patterns and maintain classroom attendance percentages above 85%. 


2312 – Individual Attendance (Grid): Presented in a grid format, this report outlines individual attendance records, including meals received. Used for identifying children marked absent with an unknown or blank reason, facilitating necessary follow-up with families, and ensuring data accuracy. 


2309 – Absence Reasons (Grid): This report, in grid format, highlights absence reason trends at the classroom or site level. Important for evaluating absence reason trends, enhancing data quality, and informing strategic decisions to minimize community gaps impacting attendance. 


If you have a favorite attendance report or tool, we invite you to share your insights in the comments below. Your experiences with data tools can offer valuable perspectives and inspire others in optimizing their program strategies. 


Interested in learning more about this topic or other ways you can improve your program? The team at Sawyer Consulting Solutions is here to help you showcase all the amazing ways your program supports the community. Schedule a free, no-obligation, no-cost discovery call with us today. 

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