USA ELOF Part 1302 Subpart B – Program Structure

We’ve read through the compliance information for the United States Head Start Program (ELOF) and have used this information to provide practical steps you can take to run an excellent service. We also provide an example weekly schedule for improvement and reflective questions to guide ongoing improvements.

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Practical Steps Towards An Excellent ELOF

To meet the standards for education for 3-5 year old ELOF children in the USA as outlined in the 1302 Subpart B—Program Structure, here’s an exhaustive list of practical steps:

1302.20 Determining program structure:

  1. Choose a Program Option:
    • Decide on one or more program options: center-based, home-based, family child care, or an approved locally-designed variation.
    • Ensure the chosen program option(s) align with the needs of children and families based on a community assessment.
    • If serving preschool-aged children, do not provide only the option described in §1302.22(a) and (c)(2).
  2. Annual Review:
    • Annually review the community assessment.
    • Consider converting existing slots to full school day or full working day slots, extending the program year, or converting Head Start slots to Early Head Start slots.
    • Identify alternate sources to support full working day services. If no additional funding is available, use program resources.
  3. Comprehensive Services:
    • Ensure all program options deliver the full range of services as described in subparts C, D, E, F, and G, except for §§1302.30 through 1302.32 and §1302.34 which don’t apply to home-based options.
  4. Conversion:
    • If considering converting Head Start slots to Early Head Start slots, follow the re-funding application process or submit a separate grant amendment.
    • Obtain policy council and governing body approval for conversion.
    • Submit the required documentation to the regional office for conversion.
  5. Source of Funding:
    • Consider hours of service that meet the Head Start Program Performance Standards as hours of planned class operations, regardless of the funding source.

1302.21 Center-based option:

  1. Setting:
    • Ensure education and child development services are primarily delivered in classroom settings.
  2. Ratios and Group Size:
    • Determine and maintain appropriate staff-child ratios and group size maximums based on the age of the majority of children and their needs.
    • Ensure compliance with state or local licensing requirements if they are more stringent.
    • Maintain appropriate ratios during all hours of operation.
  3. Service Duration:
    • For Early Head Start, provide 1,380 annual hours of planned class operations for all enrolled children by August 1, 2018.
    • For Head Start, ensure compliance with the specified annual hours and days of planned class operations.
    • Plan the year considering potential closures, such as due to inclement weather, and schedule makeup days if necessary.
  4. Licensing and Square Footage:
    • Ensure facilities meet state, tribal, or local licensing requirements.
    • Ensure center-based programs have at least 35 square feet of usable indoor space per child and at least 75 square feet of usable outdoor play space per child.

1302.22 Home-based option:

  1. Setting:
    • Deliver services through visits with the child’s parents, primarily in the child’s home, and through group socialization opportunities.
  2. Caseload:
    • Maintain an average caseload of 10 to 12 families per home visitor.
  3. Service Duration:
    • For Early Head Start, provide one home visit per week per family that lasts at least 1.5 hours and provide a minimum of 46 visits per year.
    • For Head Start, provide one home visit per week per family that lasts at least 1.5 hours and provide a minimum of 32 visits per year.
  4. Safety Requirements:
    • Ensure areas used for group socializations meet the specified safety standards.

1302.23 Family child care option:

  1. Setting:
    • Deliver services primarily by a family child care provider in their home or other family-like setting.
  2. Ratios and Group Size:
    • Ensure group size does not exceed the specified limits.
    • Include the family child care provider’s own children under the age of six in the group size count.
  3. Service Duration:
    • Ensure family child care providers operate for at least 1,380 hours per year.
  4. Licensing Requirements:
    • Ensure family child care providers are licensed by the state, tribal, or local entity.
  5. Child Development Specialist:
    • Provide a child development specialist to support family child care providers.

1302.24 Locally-designed program option variations:

  1. Waiver Option:
    • If considering a locally-designed program option, seek a waiver and ensure the full range of services is delivered.
  2. Request for Approval:
    • Submit a request to operate a locally-designed variation for approval by the responsible HHS official.
  3. Waiver Requirements:
    • Ensure compliance with the specified waiver requirements.
  4. Transition:
    • If operating a previously approved program option that is no longer allowable, continue to operate that model until July 31, 2018.

By following these steps and ensuring compliance with the specified requirements, your service can meet the standards for education for 3-5 year old ELOF children in the USA as outlined in the 1302 Subpart B—Program Structure.

An Example Monthly Schedule

Ready to implement these practical steps in your service? Using the constraints of 4 hours per week to work on improvements, we’ve created an example schedule below.

Given the extensive requirements of the 1302 Subpart B—Program Structure, an educator with only 4 hours per week to work on improving their Program Structure will need to prioritize tasks and break them down into manageable chunks. Here’s an example monthly schedule:

Week 1: Assessment and Planning

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hour 1Review Current Program Structure
    • Examine the current program structure and compare it with the requirements of 1302 Subpart B.
  2. Hour 2Identify Gaps
    • Highlight areas where the program is not in compliance or could be improved.
  3. Hour 3Prioritize Areas of Focus
    • Based on the gaps identified, prioritize areas that need immediate attention. Consider factors like the number of children affected, potential risks, and available resources.
  4. Hour 4Develop a Monthly Action Plan
    • Break down the areas of focus into weekly tasks for the upcoming month.

Week 2: Focus on Program Options

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hour 1Research Program Options
    • Review the different program options (center-based, home-based, family child care, etc.) and determine which are most suitable for your community and resources.
  2. Hour 2Community Assessment
    • Start gathering data or reviewing existing community assessments to understand the needs of children and families in your community.
  3. Hour 3-4Draft a Program Option Proposal
    • Begin drafting a proposal or plan for the chosen program option(s), ensuring it aligns with community needs.

Week 3: Focus on Service Duration and Licensing

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hour 1Review Service Duration Requirements
    • Understand the service duration requirements for the chosen program option(s) and compare them with the current schedule.
  2. Hour 2Licensing Check
    • Review current licenses and compare them with state, tribal, or local requirements. Identify any discrepancies or upcoming renewals.
  3. Hour 3Plan for Licensing Compliance
    • If there are any discrepancies in licensing, start planning how to address them.
  4. Hour 4Space Assessment
    • Check the current facilities against the square footage requirements and plan for any necessary adjustments.

Week 4: Focus on Staff Training and Child Development

Total Hours: 4

  1. Hour 1Staff Training Needs Assessment
    • Review current staff qualifications and training against the requirements. Identify gaps.
  2. Hour 2Plan Staff Training Sessions
    • Based on the gaps identified, plan training sessions or look for external training opportunities.
  3. Hour 3Review Child Development Standards
    • Ensure the program is in line with child development standards and best practices.
  4. Hour 4Feedback and Continuous Improvement
    • Seek feedback from staff, parents, and other stakeholders about the program structure. Use this feedback to refine and improve the program.

By the end of the month, the educator would have a clearer understanding of the program’s current state, areas of improvement, and a plan to address these areas. This schedule provides a structured approach but can be adjusted based on the specific needs and priorities of the program.

Reflective Questions

Reflective questions are essential for continuous improvement, especially in the context of Program Structure. Here’s an exhaustive list of reflective questions tailored to guide reflection on Program Structure:

General Reflection:

  1. What are the primary goals of our current Program Structure?
  2. How does our Program Structure align with the needs of our community and the children we serve?
  3. Are there aspects of our Program Structure that are particularly effective? Why?
  4. Which areas of our Program Structure could benefit from improvement or revision?

Program Options:

  1. Which program options (center-based, home-based, family child care, etc.) are we currently offering, and why?
  2. How do we ensure that the program options we offer align with the needs identified in our community assessment?
  3. Are there other program options we should consider based on changing community needs or feedback?

Service Duration:

  1. Are we meeting the minimum service duration requirements for our chosen program options?
  2. How does our service duration compare to the needs and preferences of the families we serve?
  3. Are there challenges in meeting service duration requirements? If so, how can we address them?

Licensing and Compliance:

  1. Are we in full compliance with state, tribal, or local licensing requirements?
  2. How regularly do we review and update our licensing and compliance status?
  3. Are there areas where we exceed minimum licensing requirements? How does this benefit our program?

Staffing and Training:

  1. Do we have the appropriate staff-to-child ratios for each program option?
  2. How do we ensure that our staff receives ongoing training and professional development?
  3. Are there areas of training or expertise that our staff currently lacks?

Facilities and Environment:

  1. Do our facilities meet the space requirements for children, both indoors and outdoors?
  2. How do we ensure that our facilities provide a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment for children?
  3. Are there improvements or modifications needed in our current facilities?

Community Engagement:

  1. How do we engage with the community to inform our Program Structure?
  2. Are there partnerships or collaborations that could enhance our Program Structure?
  3. How do we ensure that our Program Structure remains responsive to changing community needs?

Feedback and Continuous Improvement:

  1. How regularly do we seek feedback on our Program Structure from staff, parents, and other stakeholders?
  2. What mechanisms are in place for stakeholders to provide feedback or voice concerns?
  3. How do we use feedback to inform changes or improvements in our Program Structure?

Future Planning:

  1. Are there emerging trends or research in early childhood education that could inform our Program Structure in the future?
  2. How do we plan for the sustainability and growth of our program?
  3. What are our long-term goals for our Program Structure, and how are we working towards them?

Reflecting on Challenges:

  1. What challenges or obstacles have we faced in implementing our current Program Structure?
  2. How have we addressed these challenges, and what have we learned from them?
  3. Are there resources or support that could help us overcome current or future challenges?

Using these reflective questions, educators and program administrators can gain deeper insights into their Program Structure, identify areas of strength and improvement, and make informed decisions for the betterment of their program and the children they serve.



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