Another management-related issue that was raised during the site visits was assessing and ensuring quality care when contracted providers are involved. For grantees that use the wrap-in care model, all contracted providers indicated a desire to follow Head Start Performance Standards throughout the day. Quality in these programs is assessed using standard Head Start tools — the Self-Assessment Validation Instrument (SAVI) and On- Site Program Review Instrument (OSPRI). However, it became apparent that for new providers, meeting all Head Start standards, especially those related to facilities and training, takes some time. One grantee reported that new providers often did poorly on their first OSPRI because of the level of changes required to comply with all Head Start Performance Standards. It was suggested that allowing flexibility in the time frame for meeting standards for new wrap-in providers would help bring them into full compliance with Head Start standards and practices.
Quality of services provided is, however, a major concern for the one grantee we visited that uses the connected care model. In the case of connected care situations, Head Start does not have any say in how the connected programs are run and to what standards of quality they conform. The director felt that the quality of care provided by many connected providers would not meet Head Start standards because, in large part, many higher-quality providers in the area would not care for Head Start children because of the low reimbursement rates set by the state for use by Head Start grantees in connected care situations. Yet the director felt she had no choice but to use lesser-quality providers because lesser-quality care was better than no care at all.