The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Head Start (OHS) recently conducted a monitoring review of Hinds County Human Resource Agency’s Head Start program. The Triennial Federal Review of the Head Start Program resulted in NO FINDINGS.
During the review, OHS used the Head Start Monitoring System to gather data and other information to measure the performance, progress and accountability of HCHRA’s Head Start program and its compliance with the Head Start Program Performance Standards, the Head Start Act, and other regulations over multiple years.
The review included off-site and on-site reviews, and included reviews of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), Focus Area One, and Focus Area Two.
The Pre-K Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) is an observation tool used to analyze and assess the effectiveness of interactions between children and teachers in preschool classes – an important measure of quality.
Hinds County Human Resource Agency (HCHRA) made great strides since its 2014 Federal CLASS Review. After reviewing the report, HCHRA took several actions to ensure higher teaching quality. Some of those actions included realigning the child assessment tools with the curriculum; investing in classroom staff by setting a 16 percent pay raise for teachers over a 5-year period to attract new teachers and retain the ones in place; and ensuring a significant amount of time and resources were provided for training and technical assistance to teaching staff. The investment in training staff generated great results as all 4 education specialists, and 15 center administrators became CLASS certified. In addition to the management staff, 34 teachers also attended training and became CLASS certified.
The efforts made to raise the teaching quality of their program paid off. For the 2019 CLASS review, HCHRA scored from a quarter point to three-quarter points higher than they did during their last review in 2014. For example, Emotional Support had a score of 5.7167 in 2014 but scored 6.0806 in 2019. Classroom Organization gained 0.311 in 2019 and Instructional Support had the highest gain of .4481 from 2.4593 in 2014 to 2.9070 in 2019.
The investment made in training and resources allowed the grantee to deliver the best opportunities for children because, in addition to raising its CLASS score, HCHRA increased its student education goal to show a positive approach to learning through engagement, attentiveness, persistence, and curiosity by 3 percent in 2018.
Focus Area One evaluated program design, management, and governance structure, while the Focus Area Two (FA2) review looked at the agency’s effectiveness in implementing a high-quality program to promote positive outcomes and school readiness for children and their families.
The Triennial Federal Review of HCHRA’s Head Start Program resulted in no findings. The written report issued by OHS stated, “Based on the information gathered during this review, we have found your program meets the requirements of all applicable HSPPS, laws, regulations, and policy requirements.”
“It was particularly gratifying to receive the notice stating that we had met all of the requirements,” said Kenn Cockrell, president and chief executive officer of HCHRA. “We often push our staff to go the extra mile to ensure that we’re doing more than the minimum that’s required. Our hard work paid off and made this achievement possible.”
While conducting program reviews, the federal review team also looks to see if Head Start programs have any unique and innovative practices they’ve implemented to better serve families. HCHRA received a personal, hand-written note from Dr. Beverly Bergeron, the director of the Office of Head Start and Early Childhood Development for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Serves, commending them for improving the efficiency by which they administer social services to Head Start families. HCHRA recently completed a merger of its social and community programs to ensure that each of its families is linked to opportunities to increase stability and self-sufficiency.
Head Start is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. Each year, HCHRA serves more than 2,000 Head Start families in its 16 centers located throughout Hinds County. For more information on HCHRA, visit www.hchra.org.