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The New Head Start FY24 Protocol Has Entered the Classroom

FY24 Head Start protocol on clipboard with magnifying glass

Ah, September – a time of new beginnings. The kids are back in school, football graces our TV screens, and for those of us involved with Head Start, it's monitoring season. If you're anything like the team at Sawyer Consulting Solutions, you've eagerly awaited the FY24 protocol release which was finally unveiled by the Office of Head Start on September 12, 2023.

The new FY24 Head Start protocol is a significant update and may feel daunting to some. However, as passionate individuals about data and monitoring, we at Sawyer Consulting Solutions are excited by these changes. This is your time to shine!

We will delve into more details as the review season unfolds, but for now, here’s a quick rundown of the most notable changes:

Unannounced Reviews

If your program awaits FY24 review, you should have already received notice. However, here's the twist – some programs might face random, unannounced visits. That’s right – the element of surprise is back and the return of unannounced reviews is upon us. Programs must be "Review Ready" at any moment.

New Documentation

The new protocol provides a comprehensive list of documentation for review in each area. Some are familiar, like organizational charts, community assessments, and child assessment data. However, newcomers like coaching strengths, needs data, wage studies, referrals, and follow-up services add intrigue.

Real-Time Data

Data takes the spotlight in the FY24 protocol (the word "data" appears 81 times, up from 43 times in FY23) and it’s worth noting on page 4 of the new protocol, that a buzzword emerges; "real-time data." Though not explicitly defined, it implies data unprepared beforehand. This could be a significant shift for programs accustomed to prepping data in advance.

With "real-time data" and "unannounced reviews" in play, it's enough to give you heartburn but don’t worry – we are here to help you through it!

Who, What, When, Where, HOW?

The protocol itself expanded from 18 to 26 pages. However, more pages don’t necessarily mean more data points reviewed. The focus seems to shift from quantity to quality.

Instead of simple queries like, "Do you use a community needs assessment to inform program decisions?" programs will now face questions like, "How does the recipient conduct a community needs assessment to understand shifts in community needs, strengths, and available resources?" The nuances are intriguing.

Interestingly, both FY23 and FY24 protocols feature a similar number of references to "how" – 101 times vs. 93 times, respectively. The implications are worth watching. Likewise, the word "monitoring" appears approximately twice as often in the new protocol compared to the previous year.

Get Ready

The new FY24 protocol promises to make monitoring season more dynamic. Don’t get caught in the dark. Act now – if your program faces a review this year, prepare thoroughly, assess your program, and ensure your data is top-notch. Embrace real-time data and readiness for unannounced reviews.

For more thoughts on monitoring and team preparation, follow along with us!

Schedule a free, no-obligation discovery call with the Sawyer Consulting Solutions team. Let us show you how we can help you prepare for this exciting time.

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