Suggestions for Collaboration

Many programs struggle to develop an interagency agreement that serves as a working document to support a collaborative effort with the local education agency or Part C provider. This handout provides Head Start programs with examples and information about how these collaborations can and have been developed effectively and efficiently.

The following is an excerpt from Leading the Way: Disabilities Services and the Management Team.

This example is based on a review of current written and verbal agreements as well as telephone interviews with Head Start and school districts' program staff. LEAs and Head Start programs may wish to change items in the sample agreement to reflect the resources and needs of their local community.

Memorandum of Understanding between Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program

1. Child Find and Screening

Kendall Beach School District will locate and identify all children with disabilities birth to 21 years within its jurisdiction. Alina County Head Start Program will make available at least 10 percent of its enrollment opportunities to children with disabilities. To ensure this, Head Start programs will be proactive, by assessing resources in their community, contacting community agencies and early intervention programs, and working closely with school districts and Early Head Start programs. Once children are enrolled, all Head Start staff will assure that children's health and developmental needs are identified promptly.

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program will coordinate Child Find and screening efforts by:

  • Training screeners.
  • Informing and including parents in the screening process and follow-up.
  • Sharing staff and facilities for joint screenings.
  • Coordinating the instruments and procedures to be used.

2. Referral for Evaluation

Kendall Beach School District will provide evaluations of children with suspected disabilities. Evaluations will be conducted by appropriate personnel using appropriate instruments. Alina County Head Start Program will support parents in the referral process if their children are identified as "at risk" through screenings and/or ongoing observations.

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program will coordinate referrals for evaluation by doing the following:

  • Developing referral packets and training staff in the use of them.
  • Sharing responsibility in the referral procedure (such as assisting parents with paperwork and informing parents of their rights).
  • Sharing report forms and diagnostic criteria.

3. Comprehensive Evaluation

Kendall Beach School District will provide comprehensive evaluations of children who may require special education. Alina County Head Start Program will support parents in the process to obtain appropriate diagnosis for children determined to be "at risk."

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program may coordinate comprehensive evaluation efforts by doing the following:

  • Sharing evaluation resources when possible. For example:
    • Head Start may provide the evaluations if the evaluations meet the requirements of school districts for the determination of eligibility for special education.
    • Head Start program staff may serve on the multidisciplinary evaluation team when Head Start is being considered as a placement option.
  • Coordinating evaluation timelines for each agency.
  • Coordinating sites and scheduling for comprehensive evaluations. For example:
  • Coordinating paperwork to assure that evaluation results can be shared between agencies when appropriate, including parent permission regarding evaluation and sharing of evaluation information.
    • School district personnel may provide evaluations onsite at the Head Start center.
    • Head Start may be responsible for notifying parents about evaluations.
    • Head Start may provide transportation to appointments at the school district.

4. Individualized Education Program Development

Kendall Beach School District will develop an IEP for children determined to be eligible for special education. Alina County Head Start Program will contribute to the development of IEPs for children with diagnosed disabilities.

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program may coordinate the development of the IEP by doing the following:

  • Making decisions about forms to be used.
  • Assuring the participation of appropriate Head Start staff as part of the IEP team and designating responsibility for notification of team members for meetings.
  • Facilitating the active involvement of parents by delineating responsibility for notification, explanation of the meeting's purpose, supporting their attendance and participation at meetings, etc.
  • Coordinating paperwork and parental consent to assure that the IEP can be shared.
  • Coordinating the IEP review to assure participation by all parties.

5. Placement

Kendall Beach School District will place preschool children in the least restrictive environment that offers children an opportunity to interact with their peers. Alina County Head Start Program will provide services for children with disabilities in an inclusive environment.

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program will work cooperatively in regard to placement by considering the following options:

  • Making every effort to place children in Head Start if the IEP team deems it appropriate.
  • Referring children with disabilities to the Head Start program as a placement option.
         In this case, the following must be discussed or developed:
    • Number of available Head Start placement slots.
    • Eligibility criteria for Head Start enrollees.
    • Referral procedures to the Head Start program (contact persons, etc.).
    • Information packets and systems that provide parents with information about Head Start.
  • Jointly enrolling children in the school district and the Head Start program.

6. Specific Program Service Delivery

Kendall Beach School District will provide services as designated in the child's IEP. Alina County Head Start Program will seek out related services in the community for children with disabilities.

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program may coordinate services to children with disabilities by considering the following options:

  • The school will provide special education resource teachers and therapists onsite at the Head Start program. The Head Start program will schedule arrangements as needed.
  • The school district will reimburse the Head Start program for salaries of necessary special educators and therapists.
  • The school district and the Head Start program will coordinate transportation services.

7. Procedures for Hiring and Supervising Staff Providing Special Services

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program will coordinate efforts by considering the following options:
  • The school district hires and supervises staff.
  • The Head Start program hires and supervises staff and is reimbursed by the school district.
  • The school district and the Head Start program form a team to hire and supervise staff and develop procedures.

8. Procedures for Reviewing/Monitoring Child's Progress

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program will coordinate efforts by doing the following:
  • Developing procedures and forms for documenting the frequency and duration of special education services.
  • Developing procedures for progress reports and periodic consultation with Head Start staff by those providing related services.
  • Developing procedures for keeping parents involved and informed of their progress.
  • Designating responsibility for coordination of staffing and IEP review meetings.

9. Training and Technical Assistance

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program will provide ongoing training for staff to increase their knowledge and ability to provide quality services to children with disabilities.

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program will coordinate these efforts by doing the following:

  • Developing a system for staff needs assessment in the area of training.
  • Coordinating training calendars.
  • Training staff in the regulations and program philosophy of each agency.
  • Planning joint training activities.

10. Counting and Reporting Children with Disabilities

Kendall Beach School District and Alina County Head Start Program have systems for counting and reporting children with disabilities. These efforts will be coordinated by:
  • Training staff regarding specific procedures and regulations for each agency.
  • Developing a system so that timelines and persons responsible for reporting are clear.

11. Transition

Transition efforts from Alina County Head Start Program to Kendall Beach School District will be coordinated by doing the following:
  • Developing a process for sharing information.
  • Training Head Start staff and families about the school district program.
  • Facilitating visits by Head Start children and families to the receiving school.
  • Facilitating visits to Head Start by LEA staff.
  • Developing special transition forms if necessary.
  • Developing timelines for transition activities.

Adapted with permission from the National Network of Resource Access Projects.

"Suggestions for Collaboration." Leading the Way: Disabilities Services and the Management Team. Training Guides for the Head Start Learning Community. HHS/ACF/ACYF/HSB. 1997. English.

Last Reviewed: November 2009

Last Updated: October 3, 2014