About Us

About the Office of Head Start

The Office of Head Start (OHS) administers grant funding and oversight to the 1,600 agencies that provide Head Start services in communities across the country. OHS also provides federal policy direction and a training and technical assistance (T/TA) system to help grantees in providing comprehensive services to eligible young children and their families.

Head Start programs prepare America’s most vulnerable young children to succeed in school and in life beyond school. To achieve this, Head Start programs deliver services to children age birth to 5 and their families in core areas of early learning, health, and family well-being.

The Head Start program serves about 1 million children and pregnant women in urban, suburban, and rural communities throughout America. Head Start services are provided in centers, family child care homes, or in the family's own home.

Funding

Congress appropriated $9.22 billion for Head Start funding in fiscal year (FY) 2017. Of that amount, $8.88 billion was awarded directly to public agencies, private nonprofit and for-profit organizations, tribal governments, and school systems to operate Head Start programs in local communities. To improve the quality of services provided by grantees, nearly $224 million was directed to T/TA. Half that amount was awarded directly to grantees to be used for local T/TA, and the other half funded the regional and national system. More details about OHS funding and the services provided through this funding can be found in the FY 2017 Fact Sheet.

Administration

OHS has 12 Regional Offices that support the administration of grants, oversight, and T/TA for individual grantee agencies. These offices are located in Boston, MA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Kansas City, MO; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA. The Regional Offices for American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) programs are located in Washington, DC.

Training and Technical Assistance

The OHS T/TA system supports program staff in their delivery of quality services to children and families. The current system consists of three levels of T/TA: national, regional, and grantee. While each level has distinct and unique functions, they are designed to complement each other. Structured, intentional, high-quality T/TA best supports the school readiness of all children and families.

Grantees receive at least 50 percent of all Head Start T/TA dollars directly. Grantees use these funds in accordance with their training plans to support the needs identified by and specific to their local program. These activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Expanding staff qualifications
  • Improving the skills teachers need in order to promote language and emergent literacy skills
  • Improving management systems and learning environments
  • Designing and implementing programs that help parents enhance the language and literacy skills of their own children at home
  • Other uses identified by and specific to each individual grantee

As grantees develop their own training plans, they are encouraged to take time to review what is available at no cost from the National Centers, from their Regional T/TA specialists, and from others in their state and local community. In that way, a grantee's own T/TA dollars can supplement rather than duplicate T/TA services that are already available.

There are four categories of Regional T/TA specialists: early childhood specialists; grantee specialists; health specialists; and systems specialists. Most T/TA specialists, at the direction of the Regional Office, provide on-site T/TA to grantees and are also available to provide training to clusters of grantees with similar interests or concerns or at state and regional events. Read more about regional T/TA.

The Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) Offices of Head Start and Child Care are collaborating at the national level to more effectively provide T/TA across early care and education (ECE) programs. This joint T/TA system supports ECE programs and educators in delivering quality services to children and their families across the country. This system consists of nine National T/TA Centers which promote excellence through high-quality, practical resources and approaches that build ECE program capacity. The Centers also support consistent practices across communities, states, Tribes, and territories.

Topic:About Us

Resource Type: Article

National Centers: Office of Head Start

Last Updated: November 29, 2018