Many programs funded through governmental sources are subject to regular reviews. Many fail these reviews due to non-compliance or non-conformance to standards they had assured they would live by when signing their initial contract.
How does this happen? How does a program within a span of a few years go from promising they would meet or exceed their contract to a place where they are found to be deficient?
Most times, this happens due to a lack of procedures written and put into place. Oft times, it happens when policies and procedures are written and put in place, but these have not even the remotest connection to governmental standards.
There is one sure-fire way of ensuring this does not happen to your program. The first step – haul out the governmental guidance that tells you what exactly you are being funded to do.
For example, if you are a Head Start Program, use the Head Start Performance Standards.
Put all those standards and requirements, and I mean ALL of them, into a document and each guidance point become a “policy” of your program.
For example, again using a Head Start Program as our guinea pig, we will turn to one of their requirements which is within Standard 1304.23 “All children in morning center-based settings who have not received breakfast at the time they arrive at the Early Head Start or Head Start program must be served a nourishing breakfast.”
That becomes your program’s policy. “Our policy is to provide any child who has not yet received breakfast by the time they arrive with a nourishing breakfast.”
You now have to ask yourself, “how am I going to do this – I know I have to do it, but what steps will I take to make sure it is done?” The answer to those questions becomes the basis for your procedures.
Possible Procedures: The kitchen will keep a stock of bread, cottage cheese, milk and peanut butter. The teacher will provide the child with a plate of food and a glass of milk at a child-friendly table in the classroom. Or any other logical sequence of events that include what, when, where and who will ensure the policy is upheld.
You are almost finished. But not quite yet. For the best laid-plans are only good as their execution. How will you ensure this is happening? What might derail it? For every policy and procedure put into place there should be a monitoring aspect which ensures your program is doing what it sets itself out to do, meeting all the standards its funding requires.