The creation of State and National Collaboration Offices is authorized by Section 642B(a)(2)(A) of the Head Start Act. The purpose of the Head Start State and National Collaboration Offices is to guide the work of all collaboration offices. Since 1990, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has awarded Head Start collaboration grants to support the development of multi-agency and public and private partnerships at the state and national levels.
Head Start Collaboration Offices (HSCOs) exist "to facilitate collaboration among Head Start agencies…and entities that carry out activities designed to benefit low-income children from birth to school entry, and their families." They provide a structure and a process for the Office of Head Start (OHS) to work and partner with state agencies and local entities. Together, these partners work to leverage their common interests around young children and their families to formulate, implement, and improve state and local policy and practices.
These partnerships are intended to:
- Assist in building early childhood systems
- Provide access to comprehensive services and support for all low-income children
- Encourage widespread collaboration between Head Start and other appropriate programs, services, and initiatives
- Augment Head Start's capacity to be a partner in state initiatives on behalf of children and their families
- Facilitate the involvement of Head Start in state policies, plans, processes, and decisions affecting target populations and other low-income families
Methods of Coordination
The methods by which HSCOs coordinate and lead efforts for diverse entities to work together include:
- Communication – Convene stakeholder groups for information sharing, planning, and partnering, and serve as a conduit of information between Regional Offices and state and local early childhood systems.
- 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, partnerships, 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
OHS has prioritized the goals of the HSCO to guide their work. The six priorities include:
- Partnering with state child care systems emphasizing the Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership Initiative
- Working with state efforts to collect data regarding early childhood programs and child outcomes
- Supporting the expansion and access of high-quality workforce and career development opportunities for staff
- Collaborating with State Quality Rating Improvement Systems (QRIS)
- Working with state school systems to ensure continuity between Head Start and Kindergarten Entrance Assessment (KEA)
- Any additional regional priorities