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Knowledge, Information, and Skills Needed to Support the Role of Head Start and Early Head Start Directors

The role of a Head Start or Early Head Start director is demanding and complex, therefore having a professional development plan helps to prioritize areas for professional growth. Program directors can use this resource for suggestions on specific skills, competencies, and knowledge that will enable them to accomplish diverse tasks.


  • The history and background of Head Start
  • Head Start Program Performance Standards
  • Head Start Act
  • Federal On-Site Instrument
  • Early childhood development
  • Community needs
  • The individual program information, including policies and procedures
  • Policy group/governing body by-laws
  • Personnel policies and procedures
  • Fiscal management
  • Human dynamics and the culture of the community, families, and staff members
  • How to build and support your community
  • Grant information
  • Current events
  • What resources are available, including the T/TA Network
  • All Head Start content areas
  • How to work with a variety of people
  • Head Start terminology and acronyms
  • State and local laws, state licensing, and local codes
  • Management systems and methods
  • Staff development
  • Monitoring, self-assessment, and community assessment
  • State and local transportation requirements
  • Liability insurance
  • Employment laws
  • How to be proactive instead of reactive
  • How to plan strategically
  • How to be assertive
  • Public relations
  • Work with technology and the Internet


  • Work with diverse populations
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • How to develop systems
  • How to empower and motivate a team
  • Legislation and regulations
  • Create a vision and set goals for the program


  • Ability to delegate
  • Problem-solving and conflict resolution
  • Ability to establish a relationship with the Regional Office and other national partners
  • Leadership
  • Time management
  • Oral and verbal communication
  • Listening
  • Prioritizing
  • Organizing
  • Multitasking
  • Analytical
  • Negotiation
  • Ability to set goals and create plans to meet those goals
  • Admitting when you are wrong
  • Training for staff and parents
  • Networking
  • Analyzing and evaluating trends
  • Ability to make learning fun

Source: Modified from the Knowledge, Information and Skills Needed by Head Start Directors, Migrant Seasonal Head Start Quality Improvement Center

Topic:Organizational Leadership

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: December 26, 2017