The authorizing legislation for Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs require that grantees be monitored. The intent of the monitoring visit is to help grantees analyze what they are doing well and where improvements are needed. Grantee activities are compared against the approved grant and monitoring standards. Standards reflect the legislation and program requirements. The team monitoring your organization typically consists of your Federal Project Officer as well as a Peer Monitor (a staff person from another agency that operates RHY programs).
Hints for Successful Monitoring Visits
- Don't wait until your visit is scheduled to start preparing for the event. Quality assurance activities should be built into your management team efforts and addressed regularly.
- Ensure that all staff working with RHY have read the applicable approved grant. This is an often overlooked step. While it may be necessary to remove budget items and contracts, it is critical that all staff understand the purpose of the program, the required activities and the outputs/outcomes identified as targets within the proposal.
- The review team will use your grant as a guide to what they are expecting to see while visiting your program. If your approved application references life skill groups, the review team will expect to see the schedule of groups, the materials used for the groups and documentation both within program records and individual case files that such groups were conducted. Work with staff to go through your grant and identify what you are doing well and what you need to implement and/or improve to be ensure that all activities conducted are reflective of what was included within your approved proposal.
- Review your operating procedures and check to ensure that all of the required program elements are identified clearly within the proposals. Remember, "if it isn't written, it didn't happen". A good measure is to imagine that you walked into your agency and were surrounded by all new staff. How would they know what to do, when, how and under what circumstances? Your operating prcedures must reflect all of the required elements of the RHY program(s) you operate.
- Review files of youth participants to ensure that eligibility and all required services are documented. Certainly, the length of stay will impact which services are available to each youth. However, your files should document which services were provided and how these services were tied to identified needs of youth and families.
- Use the on-site review manual to guide your efforts (see resources).
- Do not be afraid to address questions. Your Federal Project Officer is not looking to "catch you making a mistake". All programs are held to standards with the goal of providing the best services to runaway and homeless youth. The process helps identify areas of needed growth which is critical to your efforts to help youth achieve the best possible outcomes.
- Utilize RHYTTAC technical assistance and resources throughout the year to stay on track.