Head Start Enterprise System
The Head Start Enterprise System is a web portal created by the federal Office of Head Start (OHS). Participating Head Start programs use this portal to report on various aspects of their organization and operation. Such reporting is crucial for providing a relevant perspective on the inner workings of each program. For this reason, OHS rules state that all programs must submit their data once a year.
To submit data to the system, programs must cull and collate a range of information. This process is no simple task. Programs that rely on inefficient technological solutions for data-gathering, analysis and internal reporting will struggle to cope with their responsibilities. On the other hand, well-organized programs that rely on highly efficient solutions will meet the OHS’s reporting requirements with ease.
At Learning Genie, we’re committed to helping you meet Head Start’s reporting requirements with as little effort as possible. Our all-in-one suite gives you the ability to integrate all data-gathering and analysis into a single, comprehensive set of software tools. Instead of cobbling together multiple systems to fulfill your reporting obligations, you can take advantage of a truly streamlined approach that’s designed for maximum efficiency.
Basics of the Head Start Enterprise System
Head Start programs receive 80 percent of their funding from federal sources. Along with this extensive financial commitment to early learning comes a large body of rules and regulations. That includes a requirement to keep any records that are mandated by the Office of Head Start. It also includes a requirement to make those records available to OHS.
Some of the required recordkeeping deals with strictly financial matters. However, all programs must also keep extensive records that demonstrate their compliance with the Head Start Program Performance Standards. These standards have been established to ensure that all participating programs meet certain criteria for delivering services to children and their families.
The Enterprise System does not function as an enforcement mechanism for the OHS’s performance standards, and the agency doesn’t use it to monitor compliance with those standards. Nevertheless, OHS guidelines state that, each year, all programs must use their Head Start Enterprise System login to submit a Program Information Report (PIR). This report covers three key areas within each program:
1) Program information
2) Program staff and qualifications
3) Child and family services
Within each of these areas, reporting is broken down into a number of different topics. In the program information area, topics include:
- General program information
- The three timeframes for PIR reporting (at enrollment, at the end of enrollment and during the year)
- Funded program enrollment broken down into several categories
- The total number of classrooms
- Information on cumulative enrollment
- Program recordkeeping
- The program staff and qualifications area includes topics such as:
- The total number of staff by type
- The total number of volunteers by type
- Various types of information on the education and child development staff
- A staff turnover breakdown that includes both total turnover and turnover among the education and child development staff
Topics in the child and family services area include:
- All provided health services
- All provided disability services
- The tools and approaches used for education and development
- Partnerships with children’s families and the greater community
In addition to addressing these core program areas, the PIR includes grant-level questions regarding such things as:
- Intensive coaching for staff members
- Management salaries and qualifications
- Teacher/family services qualifications
- The program’s number of existing formal collaborative agreements
Once uploaded into the Head Start Enterprise System, each PIR is broken down into a series of 18 downloadable reports. These reports fall into 10 separate categories. The following adaptation of an Office of Head Start graphic shows how everything fits together:
A built-in filtering system accommodates report retrieval at any of five levels:
5) Individual program
Rationale for the Head Start Reporting System
Extensive research shows that effective early learning can be broken down into five essential domains. The following table illustrates those domains for both infant/toddlers and preschoolers:
The Office of Head Start has established a wide-ranging set of rules to help ensure that all programs operating under its mandate deliver high-quality results in each early learning domain. Among other things, those rules state that every Head Start program must:
1) Establish program-wide goals
2) Monitor program performance in relation to those goals
3) Use factual data to continuously improve program outcomes
4) Submit reports on the program as required
The Head Start Enterprise System requires participating programs to file reports that highlight the structures and methods they rely on to support the goal of effective early learning.
The report submitted to the system serves as a snapshot or summary. It does not capture every detail of a program’s day-to-day operations. Instead, it provides the Office of Head Start with the information it needs to develop a meaningful overview of each funded program. This overview is also valuable to a number of other stakeholders, including:
- The general public
- Federal lawmakers
- Local and state policymakers
- Head Start programs themselves
Gathering and Tracking Program Data
The Head Start Program Performance Standards state that all programs must put a system in place for effective data management. That system must make it possible to assess program data on an ongoing basis. In addition, data management must facilitate:
- Identifying and addressing any program shortcomings
- Evaluating current compliance with Head Start standards
- Achieving goals that support high-quality early learning
A well-designed system serves purposes far beyond the filing of an annual Program Information Report. Still, when the PIR filing date comes around each year, it allows you to fulfill your program’s reporting obligations in the most straightforward manner possible.
Ensuring Data Quality
High-quality data-gathering plays a crucial role in helping programs meet their management objectives. It also helps ensure that the annual PIR truly provides a good program snapshot. The Office of Head Start defines high-quality data as having six key characteristics:
1) Relevance – Gathered data should serve a functional purpose in describing various aspects of program health.
2) Timeliness – Data gathering should capture the current reality of what’s happening within a program.
3) Accuracy – All gathered data should be clear and error-free.
4) Completeness – Programs should have a process in place to make sure that all data is as complete as possible.
5) Validity – The tools used to gather data should actually measure what they claim to measure.
6) Reliability – All data-gathering tools should provide consistent, reliable results.
The OHS also identifies specific aspects of a program where the gathering of quality data is essential. Those aspects include:
- General data collection
- Assessments for children enrolled in the program
- The use of data in program planning
- Data analysis and evaluation
- Community assessments
- Effective fiscal management
Another area where data quality plays a central role is the management information system utilized by your program. The Office of Head Start emphasizes the fact that effective systems do two things:
1) Generate customizable reports that serve the needs of all stakeholders in a meaningful way
2) Produce those reports as needed in real time
At Learning Genie, we understand the urgency of proper data management to the mission of Head Start programs. That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive system for gathering and tracking program data. Use of our all-in-one software package supports your program’s goals in a variety of ways. That includes the completion of your annual report to the Head Start Enterprise System.
Gathering Required Child- and Family-Related Data for the PIR
All Head Start programs must gather a wealth of data on enrolled children and their families. Much of this data focuses on children’s learning and development outcomes. In addition, all programs must document the details of their efforts at family engagement.
The Program Information Report covers several relevant topics within this area, including:
- Demographic information
- Data on child assessments conducted by the program
- Information on the program curriculum
- Methods used for classroom and home observation
Relevant data does not just come from children who attend class in person. It also comes from:
- Blended learners who spend part of their time learning at home
- Distance learners who exclusively learn at home
Gathering data on these children adds an extra layer of complexity for Head Start programs. However, to meet their goals, programs must ensure a high-quality learning experience regardless of how children attend class.
The PIR also asks programs to provide certain details regarding the parents of enrolled children. Those details include parents’ level of education. Crucially, they also include an assessment of the extent to which fathers play active roles in supporting their children’s learning and development.
Learning Genie’s all-in-one suite provides several tools that help you provide accurate reporting for the PIR’s required child- and family-related data. These Head Start-oriented tools include:
The Family Engagement Module
The Family Engagement Module promotes effective PIR reporting in several different ways. Most importantly, it allows Head Start programs to put distance and blended learners on an equal educational footing with children who always attend class in person. The module achieves this goal by:
- Supporting two-way communication by app or email between teachers and the families of blended and distance learners
- Facilitating that communication with the auto-translation of more than 100 different languages
- Accommodating parents of all educational backgrounds with a text-to-speech function
- Providing a digital portfolio tool that allows families to observe their children’s learning experiences, share those experiences with teachers, and provide relevant details that support their observations
- Allowing teachers to schedule virtual learning events
- Providing an eBook library stocked entirely with titles approved for use in Head Start programs
- Providing access to a digital learning media library that offers a broad range of educational resources
The Survey Module
Our Survey Module allows your program to reach out to families and solicit their needs, opinions and preferences. The module includes two survey options:
- An anonymous satisfaction survey that facilitates comment on the entire program
- A teacher- or administrator-issued questionnaire that asks for more specific types of information
Once you’ve gathered your survey data, you can use it to produce a range of internal reports. You can also refer to those reports when filling out your annual PIR. A roster-sync function even gives you the ability to perform a detailed demographic analysis.
Monitoring and Reporting Your Data
To provide an accurate annual snapshot for the Head Start Enterprise System PIR, your program must have the ability to efficiently monitor its data flow. In addition, you must have an effective method of using this flow of information to generate internal program reports. Ideally, your monitoring and reporting capabilities won’t be limited to just a few options. Instead, you should have ability to choose your frame of reference in terms of:
- Weekly, monthly and annual outcomes
- Individual classrooms
- An entire program site
- A multi-site agency overview
Learning Genie’s suite of tools include a one-stop Data Dashboard. You can use this centralized location to track all of the data generated throughout your program. Our Data Dashboard is built around Head Start-related needs and objectives. Not only does it allow you to track compliance with the OHS’s Head Start Program Performance Standards, it also allows you to highlight just those details required for the PIR you submit to the Enterprise System. From program information and program staff and qualifications to data on child and family services, it’s all there.
Learning How to Use the Learning Genie Suite of Tools
As experienced education software providers, the specialists at Learning Genie understand the fears and concerns that often accompany switching to a new system or protocol. Left unaddressed, these issues can slow down your successful changeover to a new approach to data management. In turn, this slowdown can affect your ability to meet your Head Start objectives.
To help you stay on track throughout the change in data management systems, we provide your program with a wealth of training resources, including:
Administrator and Teacher Handbooks
As a rule, administrators and teachers have different needs when it comes to gathering, tracking and reporting data. Administrators must keep track of the agency- or program-wide big picture. In contrast, teachers focus on classroom-level data on both children and their families. To accommodate their needs and help the program run as smoothly as possible, both types of professionals must receive role-specific training when data management methods change.
Learning Genie meets the needs of administrators and teachers with training handbooks that take their unique perspectives into account. Each of these handbooks provides relevant instructions on how to use our suite of Head Start tools. In addition, each training guide includes helpful, role-oriented tips on accomplishing important tasks.
The Distance Learning Webinar Series
This series is specifically designed to help your program make the most of Learning Genie’s distance learning tools. It covers topics such as:
- The ABCs of using Learning Genie for teaching and communication
- Using distance learning to support your program’s goals for in-kind funding
- Creating a remote learning YouTube channel for children and their families
California programs can also learn how to use our tools to meet their state-mandated, DRDP-related goals.
Free Online Demos
To help you make informed decisions regarding a new data management option, Learning Genie offers free online demonstrations of our suite of tools. These demos serve as an introduction to what’s possible with our Head Start-focused software. From supporting Enterprise System PIRs to simplifying the fulfillment of other federal mandates, Learning Genie can do it all.
A Trusted Option for the PIR and Other Head Start Reporting
Learning Genie has a longstanding commitment to supporting Head Start programs and early learning. Along with the excellence of our software products, that commitment helps explain the growing use of our all-in-one suite of tools in programs throughout the country.
The experts at Learning Genie are there to help you simplify the process of reporting to the Head Start Enterprise System. We also make it easier to track every other aspect of the health of your program. Like you, we’re dedicated to helping young children flourish and get the most out of their early-life educational opportunities.
To learn more about the wide-ranging benefits of our all-in-one suite of tools for Head Start programs, just contact us today to schedule your introductory software demo.