Capacity Building Self-Assessment Tool

This dimension consists of the systems, protocols, and processes that give structure to the organization, support its key functions, and embed routine practice. This includes the policies and operating procedures that guide practice and build a shared understanding of how to advance early learning opportunities and outcomes. Infrastructure also includes an agency’s systems for operations—from human resources, training, supervision, and ongoing communication systems to data, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement systems.

Creating a high-functioning organization that includes a plethora of experience and skillset

Benchmark of Capacity:
High Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Moderate Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Basic Level in Place
  • There is diverse representation in staff—they are from a variety of fields of practice and have functional and program content-related expertise as well as experience thinking and operating at both a strategic and systemic level.
  • Staff members are highly motivated to invest in learning about the organization and addressing its issues.
  • Staff members have an outstanding commitment to the organization’s vision and success; they meet in person regularly (including subcommittee meetings), there is good attendance, and they achieve results.
  • There is good diversity among staff, including their fields of practice and expertise.
  • Staff have a diverse skillset and experience.
  • Staff have a good commitment to the organization’s success, vision, and mission.
  • Staff have regular, purposeful meetings that are well planned, have consistently good attendance, and that achieve results, including occasional subcommittee meetings.
  • There is some diversity among staff, including their fields of practice.
  • There is a lack of a diverse skillset among staff and leadership and only a moderate commitment to the organization’s vision and success.
  • Staff have regular, purposeful meetings that are well planned and during which attendance is good overall.

Establishing high-functioning interagency planning and implementation

Benchmark of Capacity:
High Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Moderate Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Basic Level in Place
  • There is constant and seamless integration between staff and leadership within your organization; they work together effectively on planning and implementation.
  • Relationships are dictated by project planning and implementation needs (rather than hierarchy or politics).
  • Staff within your organization function together effectively; they share information and resources and work together on planning efforts.
  • Interactions between the different areas of your organization are generally good or somewhat effective in planning efforts.

Developing and using a strategic plan

Benchmark of Capacity:
High Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Moderate Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Basic Level in Place
  • A strategic plan is used extensively to guide the organization’s decisions.
  • Strategic planning exercises and revisions are carried out regularly.
  • There is regular progress reporting on strategic plan execution and revisions as needed.
  • Sustainability planning is routinely incorporated as part of the process.
  • There is efficient use of external, sustainable, highly-quality resources.
  • Staff have the ability and tendency to develop and refine concrete, specific, and realistic goals.
  • There is some internal expertise on strategic planning or access to relevant external assistance.
  • Strategic planning is an activity occurring on a near-regular basis.
  • Sustainability planning is included in strategic planning.
  • The team intends to develop a high-level strategic plan but has not written or updated such a plan.

Using performance management and continuous quality improvement

Benchmark of Capacity:
High Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Moderate Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Basic Level in Place
  • There is a high-functioning performance team and a well-developed comprehensive, integrated system (such as, PDCA cycle; balanced scorecard) used for measuring performance and continuous quality improvement, including modifying activities.
  • There is a small number of clear, measurable, and key performance indicators.
  • Social impact is measured based on evaluation.
  • There is a performance team in place, performance is measured, and progress is tracked in multiple ways, several times a year; there is no formal continuous quality improvement system in place.
  • Stakeholder input is a part of the performance process, as well as other social, financial, and organizational activities.
  • There are some performance indicators but an evaluation is missing.
  • There is a performance team in place, and performance is partially measured and progress is partially tracked.
  • The organization regularly collects quality data on activities and outputs but lacks data-driven impact measurement.

Ability to influence high-level decisionmakers and policymaking

Benchmark of Capacity:
High Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Moderate Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Basic Level in Place
  • Your organization proactively and reactively influences other decisionmakers and policymaking relevant to the project in a highly effective manner, on state and national levels.
  • The organization is always ready for and often called on to participate in substantive discussion and at times initiates discussions.
  • Your organization is fully aware of its potential to influence other key decisionmakers and policymaking and is active in relevant discussions at the state or national level.
  • Your organization is aware of its potential to influence high-level decisionmakers and policymaking.
  • There is some readiness and skill to participate in higher-level policy discussion.

Using organizational structures and processes to function effectively and efficiently in critical areas, such as communication, decisionmaking, and planning

Benchmark of Capacity:
High Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Moderate Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Basic Level in Place
  • There is a robust, lean, and well-designed set of processes (such as, communication, decisionmaking, planning) in place in all areas to ensure effective and efficient functioning of the organization.
  • The organizational processes are widely known, used, and accepted, and are key to ensuring the organization’s full impact.
  • There is continual monitoring and assessment of processes and systematic improvements made.
  • There is a solid, well-designed set of processes in place in core areas to ensure the organization’s smooth, effective functioning.
  • The organizational processes are known and accepted by many and are often used and contribute to increased impact.
  • There is occasional monitoring and assessment of processes, with some improvements made.
  • There is a basic set of processes in place, such as communication, decisionmaking, and planning; however, processes are known, used, and accepted by only a portion of the team.
  • There is limited monitoring and assessment of processes, with few improvements made in consequence.

Developing, aligning, and integrating a system of support for children, families, and early childhood programs

Benchmark of Capacity:
High Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Moderate Level in Place
Benchmark of Capacity:
Basic Level in Place
  • There is a clear set of integrated cross-sector expectations and monitoring systems for early childhood programs and professionals so that services and practices reach common goals on behalf of children and families.
  • Early childhood program policies and activities build on one another rather than contradict or duplicate.
  • There are clear and aligned expectations for early childhood programs and professionals so that services and practices reach common goals on behalf of children and families.
  • Work has begun to reconceptualize programs so that there is an integrated vision.
  • There are well-designed programs, monitoring, standards and policies, which are effectively implemented. However, they were conceptualized and are delivered as stand alone, often contradicting or duplicating other similar programs.