September in Review: Aligned Monitoring and DRS Round III

- Katherine Molina Powell, VP, Training & Business Development

September is a busy month in the world of Head Start. As the first full month of the school year closes out for many programs, two major events occurred—a live Q&A session with OHS on the new aligned monitoring system for five-year grants and the release of the third round of competitive grants under the Designation Renewal System. 

Aligned Monitoring System
Earlier this month, the Aligned Monitoring Virtual Expo went live on ECLKC, allowing grantees a detailed walk-through of what the new monitoring system will look like on the five-year grant cycle. Video tutorials, assessments, and reference documents introduce users to the new monitoring cycle—to be implemented over the first three years of a five-year grant—as well as key indicators and process points. Highlights include:

  • The phase-out of the triennial monitoring system and the introduction of two new types of review: the comprehensive review—applicable to most grantees—and the “differential” monitoring system based on a HSKI-C (Head Start Key Indicator-Compliance) review. These reviews are applicable to a limited number of grantees with no areas of non-compliances in the last review, as well as other stringent criteria for fiscal controls and compliance.
  • Monitoring Timelines for grantees who started five-year grant cycles as early as FY 2012 are currently in the third year of their five-year grant period.
  • The Head Start Key Indicator-Compliance (HSKI-C) protocol
  • Slimmer teams to focus in on individual topics during more limited-scope, on-site reviews, supported by a virtual team leader
  • Comprehensive Services and School Readiness monitoring tools: These are still under construction! Look for them in 2016.
  • Key date: September 29th: Letters will be sent out informing grantees of what reviews they are scheduled to get over the next three years.

This new monitoring system has big implications for all grantees—both those already on five-year grant cycles and those who will shortly be transitioning over. We encourage program leaders to check out the Virtual Expo to learn more about this change in the monitoring system—and what it will mean for your program.

Last Tuesday, started to release the funding opportunity announcements related to the third round of re-competition in Head Start. The news from the latest release of FOA documents is that they look remarkably similar to the round of RFPs for DRS Round II. Almost all of these opportunities are listed as birth-to-five—in some cases, even in places where it appears that the current grantee is currently serving Head Start children only. The sections and distribution of points for this year’s round also line up to last year’s applications—although some individual criteria are slightly different. We are encouraged to see the continuation of this birth-to-five push—particularly on the heels of the recent EHS-Child Care Partnership round of grants—and look forward to hearing from both incumbents and challengers on how organizations are thinking about approaching the new round of applications this fall.

Promotional Note: DRS Support
As the grants have started coming out, the Shine Early Learning team has been in touch with a number of programs who have been affected by this year’s round of re-competition, and we continue to offer support through our Shine Assist and Shine Implement programs, as well as offering re-competition resources through our Shine Access Premium Library.

For more information about how we can support your program in the re-competition process, email us at We'd love to hear from you.