Foundations for Excellence: Planning in Head Start

The Office of Head Start National Centers have produced this series of papers to support programs in developing and implementing planning systems.

The Head Start planning system is an essential part of program operations. Thoughtful planning is critical as programs shift from an indefinite grant period to a five year project period. Federal Oversight of Five Year Head Start Grants (ACF-IM-HS-14-02) and the five year grant application require programs to describe:

  • Long-term goals they will accomplish during the five-year period
  • Short-term objectives
  • Expected outcomes that are aligned with the goals and objectives
  • Tools and methods for tracking progress

Grantees also must report on their progress in their yearly continuation applications.

Using the Planning Papers

Head Start leaders can use the planning papers to:

  • Ensure a shared understanding of program planning
  • Review and discuss training plans with management teams, T/TA providers, and governing body, Tribal Council, and Policy Council members
  • Set goals, write objectives and outcomes, and develop action plans
  • Evaluate current goals, objectives, and action plans

Accessing the Papers

Get started by reading the Introduction and downloading the papers. The strategies and templates in the papers can help program develop plans for tracking progress.

You also can download the entire Foundations for Excellence: Planning in Head Start booklet.


To learn more, contact the National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations at or (toll-free) 1-855-763-6647.

via Office of Head Start Resource.

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