WIC NSS Self-Assessment FAQs

Breastfeeding Food Packages Nutrition Education

Do we need to complete the entire self-assessment?
What do we need to complete a self-assessment?
Is the self-assessment for the staffing section a performance appraisal?
What is the difference between “position-appropriate training” and “task-appropriate training”?
We have several individuals with the same title; do we need to complete an assessment for each person?
If the staffing self-assessment is not a performance appraisal, why does it ask about additional qualifications, skills and/or experience that staff have?
We completed a staffing self-assessment for a position title, but that person has left and a new person has been hired. How do I start a new assessment for that position title?
How do we conduct a follow up assessment to enter our progress or indicate that we achieved our goal?
Can you provide an example of the goals we are expected to develop?

 

Do we need to complete the entire self-assessment?
The Nutrition Services Standards self-assessment is meant to assist State and local agencies in their continuous quality improvement activities performed throughout the year, or across multiple years, that may focus on one standard or even parts of a standard. Therefore, it provides agencies with the flexibility to work on any part of the self-assessment (be it a single standard or just part of a standard), save their work and return to the tool when convenient.

What do we need to complete a self-assessment?
When performing a self-assessment, what an agency needs depends on the standard. Useful resources and methods of information collection include, but are not limited to:

  • State Plan/Policy Procedure Manual
  • State or local agency Nutrition Services Plan
  • State or local agency guidance
  • FNS policy and guidance
  • State or local agency records
  • Training curriculum and materials
  • Personnel records
  • Direct observation
  • Participant, staff, and/or stakeholder feedback or interview/questionnaire/survey results
  • Memorandum of Understanding
  • Participant Characteristics reports
  • Management Information System Data

Another valuable resource is staff. As staffing permits, employing a team approach when using the self-assessment tool not only facilitates obtaining information from those most familiar and involved with specific aspects of the nutrition services provided, but it also emphasizes teamwork and that everyone's input and contribution is valued.

Is the self-assessment for the staffing section a performance appraisal?
No. The self-assessment for the staffing section is not a performance appraisal and should not reflect individual performance. Rather, the staffing self-assessment is for each position title. The intent of the assessment is to determine how well an agency’s policies and procedures ensure that the individual(s) who serve a specific position title are qualified and trained. It is also designed to assess if the agency provides initial training (via both orientation and position- and task-appropriate training) as well as ongoing training that enables staff to successfully fulfill their roles and responsibilities.

Of note, a way to more accurately assess the sufficiency of the orientation and training provided is to solicit input from staff members who hold the position being assessed. The process of soliciting input can not only facilitate identifying goals/plans for improvement, but also demonstrate that employees’ input is valued.

What is the difference between “position-appropriate training” and “task-appropriate training”?
Position-appropriate training refers to reviewing all the roles and responsibilities of a particular position. For example, reviewing that the individual’s responsibilities include, among other things, prescribing food packages to high-risk participants, developing individual care plans for high-risk participants, and documenting referrals and conducting appropriate follow-up to referrals for high-risk participants. Task-appropriate training refers to specific instruction on how to perform a particular task; for example, teaching an individual how to document referrals and nutrition education per the agency’s procedure.
 

We have several individuals with the same title; do we need to complete an assessment for each person?
No. The self-assessment for the staffing section is not meant to assess individual performance but rather the specific position title. The assessment is a reflection of how well an agency’s policies and procedures, and the implementation of the policies and procedures, ensure that staff is qualified for the position held and that the agency provides initial training (via both orientation and position- and task-appropriate training) as well as ongoing training that enables staff to successfully fulfill their roles and responsibilities. Depending on the position being assessed, as well as the size of the agency, the staff who fall under that position title could be an individual or a group of individuals. For example, a small agency may have one CPA whereas a larger agency may have multiple individuals with that title. In either case, only one self-assessment should be completed for CPAs.

Of note, a way to more accurately assess the sufficiency of the orientation and training provided is to solicit input from staff who hold the position being assessed. The process of soliciting input can not only facilitate identifying goals/plans for improvement, but also demonstrate that employees’ input is valued.
 

If the staffing self-assessment is not a performance appraisal, why does it ask about additional qualifications, skills and/or experience that staff have?
This question is designed to help an agency determine what additional qualifications, skills and/or experience benefit the Program. This can be helpful when posting a job opening, where the announcement can include such additional qualifications, skills and/or experience as “preferred” or “highly desirable.” An applicant who has any of these attributes can highlight such relevant attributes within their application.
 

We completed a staffing self-assessment for a position title, but that person has left and a new person has been hired. How do I start a new assessment for that position title?
If a staffing self-assessment has already been completed for a particular position title, you can make changes directly to the assessment already completed. For your records, however, you may wish to print and/or email and then save the initial assessment to your agency’s computer before you make any changes to it.
 

How do we conduct a follow up assessment to enter our progress or indicate that we achieved our goal?
To update any assessment, you can make changes directly to the assessment already completed. For your records, however, you may wish to print and/or email and then save the initial assessment to your agency’s computer. For any subsequent updates, this process (printing and/or emailing and saving) can be done before you make any changes to an assessment.
 

Can you provide an example of the goals we are expected to develop?
The goals an agency develops are highly individualized and depend on where that particular agency is in terms of meeting a standard’s criteria, as well as the agency’s priorities, what it wants to achieve, its resources, and what is realistic for it to achieve. Developing goals that are most appropriate to an agency is best left to that agency.

However, an agency can take certain steps when developing their goals to help ensure that they are successful in achieving them, such as developing SMART goals. SMART goals describe Program results that are to be achieved and how they will be achieved. SMART is an acronym that stands for:

Specific - Create a clear picture of what the agency wants to achieve, including who will be targeted and what will be accomplished and a set number or level wherever possible. For example, an agency may want to improve their signage at the clinic. However, this statement alone is not a SMART goal because it is not specific enough. In what way do you want to improve the signage, which signage (health-based messages, instructional, etc.), and for whom (staff? participants?) A precise picture of what the agency wants the end result to be will help the agency assess whether or not the goal in mind was achieved.

Measurable - Goals are measurable when you can quantify them: include how much change is expected with enough specificity so that achievement can be measured through counting or documenting change. The goal of “improving signage at the clinic” is not a measurable goal that could be easily assessed without establishing specific parameters (i.e., creating a clear picture – see “Specific” above) and collecting objective data.

Attainable - Goals can be accomplished given an agency’s existing resources and constraints: Is the goal something the agency has the skills, abilities, and resources to achieve? Is the goal something the agency is motivated to achieve? Is it a priority for the agency or are there other priorities competing for similar resources needed to attain the goal? Is the agency prepared to take steps and perform tasks necessary to achieve the goal? In the example, “improve signage at the clinic,” the agency needs to consider if available resources (such as availability of new images for the posters and a budget allocated for printing new posters) are available to carry out the goal.

Realistic - Goals are consistent with (i.e., fall within the realm of) your agency’s responsibilities and resources; address the scope of the problem; and propose reasonable programmatic steps. The goal of “improving signage at the clinic” cannot be evaluated as to whether or not it is a realistic goal without first reworking the goal to be specific and measurable (see “Specific” and “Measurable” above). However, if, for example, the goal involves signage related to instructional messages (eating food, cell phone usage) then this (more specific) area falls within the realm of the agency’s responsibilities.

Time oriented - Establish a timeline indicating a target date for achieving your goal. The goal of “improving signage at the clinic” has no clear timeline for completion. Without a clear timeline, an agency will find it difficult to hold itself accountable for checking up on the progress toward and completion of its goal.

Example:
Vague goal: Improve signage at the clinic.
SMART goal: By the end of September 2013, replace the 5 existing signs for participants in the clinic waiting room that have negatively phrased instructions for participants related to eating, cell phone usage, etc. with signs that have positively phrased instructions as determined by the use of wording that instructs participants where they can perform certain activities (eat, use the cell phone, etc.) (vs. instructing them what not to do).

Additionally, SMART goals/objectives are an essential part of Quality Improvement (QI) (see Standard 16 A1) since fundamental aspects of both SMART goals and QI address:

  • WHAT is the agency going to do?
  • WHY is it important for the agency to accomplish this activity?
  • WHO is going to be responsible for the activities and/or who is affected?
  • WHEN does the agency want this to be completed?
  • HOW is the agency going to do these activities?

QI teams would be well-served by developing SMART goals for their QI program and project goals, to help ensure the agency is successful in their QI efforts.

Develop SMART Objectives is an additional resource from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on this topic.