Head Start

Head Start logoHead Start promotes the school readiness of young children from low-income families through agencies in their local community. The Head Start program is authorized by the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007.

Head Start and Early Head Start programs support the mental, social, and emotional development of children from birth to age 5. In addition to education services, programs provide children and their families with health, nutrition, social, and other services. Head Start services are responsive to each child and family’s ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage. Additional information is available at www.eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov. For a list of Head Start programs in Virginia, visit www.headstartva.org.

Purpose of the Head Start Collaboration Office

Head Start Collaboration Offices (HSCOs) exist “to facilitate collaboration among Head Start/Early Head Start agencies and entities that carry out activities designed to benefit low income children from birth to school entry, and their families. HSCOs provide a structure and a process for the federal Office of Head Start (OHS) to work with state and local entities to leverage their common interests around young children and their families. Working together, they formulate, implement, and improve state and local policies and practices.”

Methods of Coordination

Methods by which HSCOs coordinate and lead efforts for diverse entities to work together include:

  • Communication– Convene stakeholder groups for information sharing and planning. Be a conduit of information between the OHS Regional Office and the State and local early childhood system.
  • Access– Facilitate Head Start agencies’ access to and utilization of appropriate entities so Head Start children and families can secure needed services and critical partnerships are formalized.
  • Systems– Support policy, planning, and implementation of cross agency State systems for early childhood, including the State Advisory Council, that include and serve the Head Start community.

Scope of Work

HSCOs facilitate collaboration among Head Start agencies and State and local entities as charged by the Office of Head Start in the Regional Office.

  •  School Transitions– Foster seamless transitions and long-term success of Head Start children by promoting continuity of services between the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework and State early learning standards including pre-k entry assessment and interoperable data systems.
  • Professional Development– Collaborate with institutions of higher education to promote professional development through education and credentialing programs for early childhood providers in states.
  • Child Care and Early Childhood Systems– Coordinate activities with the agency responsible for the State Child Care and Development Block Grant, as well as resource and referral services, to make full-working-day and full-calendar-year services available to children. Include the Head Start Program Performance Standards in state efforts to rate the quality of programs using the Quality Rating and Improvement System, (QRIS). Support Head Start program participation in QRIS and partnering with child care and early childhood systems at the local level.
  • OHS Regional Office Priorities– Support other OHS Regional Office priorities such as family and community partnerships; health, mental health, and oral health; disabilities; and support to military families.

The Virginia Head Start Collaboration Project is administered through the Virginia Department of Social Services. It is located within the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Development.  For more information, contact Aleta Lawson, Director, at 804-726-7468 or aleta.lawson@dss.virginia.gov. Additional information is available at http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/cc/headstart.html and at www.headstartva.org.