Health Manager Orientation Guide

What Is a Health Manager?

Two women talking while a young girl looks on.Head Start health managers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. The HSPPS staff qualifications and competency requirements (45 CFR §1302.91(d)(1)) require that the individual serving as the health manager, “have, at a minimum, a baccalaureate degree, preferably related to one or more of the disciplines they oversee.” To learn more, review Education Requirements for Health Services Managers and Health Professionals.

The health manager is the individual who ensures the health of children, families, and staff stays at the forefront of each program’s service delivery system. Whether a health manager has worked as clinical health staff, has a background in public health, or is new to health services, they bring valuable knowledge and experiences.

Keep in mind that each program has its own unique structure and strategy for implementation — no two programs are the same! Each health manager enters the position with a unique set of skills, expertise, and experiences. All these factors shape how the health manager will approach the work of health services management.

It is important for an effective health manager to:

  • Understand and value the connections between health, behavioral health, and learning.
  • Acknowledge how one's own values, beliefs, attitudes, and preferences affect interactions with children, families, and staff.
  • Have a working knowledge of the HSPPS and other federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local requirements regarding health and safety in early care and education.
  • Model and reinforce healthy and safe behaviors.
  • Emphasize how strengths-based, nurturing, and responsive relationships can act as buffers to adversity.