After a month plus of interviews, we had our meeting to review everyone’s findings and identify themes for improvement within our Head Start program. For some reason, I found it relieving that there were specific items people consistently identified as requiring clarification or a better protocol to ensure they were getting done. We couldn’t identify any issues of non-compliance (a big risk for Head Start because it could mean loss of the grant), but there were definitely some areas where we weren’t sure who exactly was responsible for ensuring a task got completed.
Despite the adventure of learning what the self-assessment is about while trying to execute it, the final product is completed, and more importantly, has the required elements. The process was an excellent way to get to know both the organization and the expectations of a Head Start program in general. The team is assembled from staff within the agency, but also from community and governing body members. Finding people to participate may have been the most difficult aspect. As this is an annual endeavor, many eligible participants must have decided that once was enough. Fortunately, we received permission to use the food tactic: free lunch at the last meeting! Really that trick only increased attendance at the meeting rather than encouraging people to sign up, but it was well worth it as we had more ideas to draw from when making recommendations. I think the less knowledge a person has about the program, the more valuable this experience becomes. All of us had a snapshot of the program through the interviews we conducted, but the debriefing meeting was vital as it helped to identify themes spanning the program areas where protocol needed more clarity. I found it fascinating that reviewers picked up on related points where the program could be improved regardless of whether they were interviewing HR or program administrators. Now that the final document is completed, I am curious to see how these recommendations will be translated into program goals and training plans for the upcoming year.