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Head Start Community Program of Morris County is one of the first programs in the state to undergo a new monitoring process from the Office of Head Start. The federal revised review system provides a multi-year perspective on grantee operations with a focus on performance, progress, and compliance.

The staff, Board of Directors, Policy Council and families served by Head Start of Morris County have reason to celebrate the successful monitoring event. The data collected by the Office of Head Start is used to determine whether the grantees need to compete for further Head Start funding, and support the agency’s participation in Grow NJ Kids, New Jersey’s Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) for early childhood programs. In addition to its regular Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms, Head Start Community Program of Morris County collaborates with Wharton Borough Public Schools and the Morris School District to provide high-quality preschool programs for children living in those service areas.

The Morris County Head Start program was found to have met the requirements of all applicable Head Start Performance Standards, laws, regulations, and policy requirements. The federal program monitoring, which took place at Head Start’s Dover and Morristown sites in December 2017, found no areas of concern, no areas of noncompliance, and no deficiencies. The comprehensive monitoring review assessed program management, governance, financial management, enrollment, education and child development services.

As part of the monitoring review, observations were conducted in the agency’s preschool classrooms using the Pre-K Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). The CLASS is a research-based instrument which measures the quality of classroom interactions. The CLASS dimensions are based on developmental theory and research suggesting that interactions between children and adults are the primary way of supporting children’s development and learning, and that effective, engaging interactions and environments form the foundation for all learning in early childhood classrooms. Morris County’s scores were within national Head Start ranges for the domains of Emotional Support (6.0455), Classroom Organization (5.7273), and Instructional Support (2.5606).

The Head Start Act, reauthorized in 2007, requires periodic federal review of all Head Start programs. The Head Start Aligned Monitoring System, revamped to connect with the revision of the Head Start Program Performance Standards in 2016, is now being implemented to assess performance of Head Start programs throughout the United States. The federal process for reviews ensures consistent quality and accountability of Head Start programs across the country, with a systemic view of a grantee’s services and functions across its five-year grant cycle. The Office of Head Start (OHS) uses the system to assess grantee compliance with the Head Start Program Performance Standards, the Head Start Act, and other regulations.

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