Head Start / Early Head Start Data Capacity Assessment
A comprehensive report of a Head Start/Early Head Start program’s current organizational capability in the area of management, data infrastructure, and data-driven program implementation.
Where is your organization specifically when it comes to all things Data? We hear this question over and over when we travel to professional gatherings throughout the nation. Acorn's Data Capacity Assessment provides answers to this question.
Why complete a Data Capacity Assessment?
It is a strong practice in any data-heavy organization to have external professionals “look under the hood” and help diagnose data-related needs and opportunities. Common best-practice questions with Head Start/Early Head Start grantees are:
- How accurate is your data?
- How timely is your system for inputting data?
- How defined and consistent are data workflows across the organization?
- Are there best practice analytics that your program is missing?
- How effectively is data shared across the organization?
- What is the current data literacy and confidence level of your key staff?
- Where could you invest in stronger staff training and capacity building?
- To what extent is data integrated into decision making, especially for continuous quality improvement?
- How ready are your staff to tell your “data story” (conduct a Data Tour) with federal reviewers?
The Data Capacity Assessment provides important insights for directors and leaders, based on the initial answers to these types of questions.
How does it work?
The assessment typically takes two months to complete. It consists of a mix of interviews of key program leaders, survey of a cross section of line staff, supervisors and managers, and an analysis of particular data sets downloaded from ChildPlus. From these source materials, we develop findings and recommendations that are actionable for your decision-makers.
While the process is designed to efficiently collect information, access to and participation of staff is critical to conducting an accurate, comprehensive analysis. The entire assessment may be conducted without an on-site visit; however, travel for key interviews and/or presentation of report by mutual agreement, is possible.
What can you exactly do with it when it is complete?
A Head Start/Early Head Start organization that invests in this assessment can expect to:
- Gain a detailed understanding of the current “state of the grantee” as it relates to using data throughout the entire organization
- Identify strengths and weaknesses, many of which were unknown
- Target areas for improvement
- Submit part or all of the report to regional T&TA as part of a QuIP or in preparation for a review
- Attach/include the report as part of the annual Self Assessment
- Inform continuous quality improvement in the area of data use
- Provide particular findings to the Board and/or Policy Council
- Protect their overall grant funding by identifying areas of concern regarding the Data Tour that is the key element of the new Focus Area Two Monitoring Protocol
- Develop a Request for Qualifications/Proposal (RFQ/RFP) to hire external consulting in the area of data/continuous quality improvement
- Develop a job description for an internal/external data manager/consultant
- Generate a to-do list for partnering with their data system contacts (ChildPlus, MTS, MyHeadStart, COPA, Learning Genie, DRDPOnline, etc)
- Inform the Goals and Objectives anchoring a 5-year grant application