Built into the overall Head Start program structure is an established system of support for on-going professional development to assist health managers in the implementation of comprehensive health services. HSPPS 45 CFR §1302.92 states a program must establish and implement a systematic approach to staff training and professional development designed to assist staff in acquiring or increasing the knowledge and skills needed to provide high-quality, comprehensive services within the scope of their job responsibilities, and attached to academic credit as appropriate.
Health mangers are key leaders within their program. A health manager’s previous professional experiences may or may not have included project management, communication, monitoring and oversight, training and professional development of other staff, or other key leadership skills needed to be successful in this role. Ensuring health managers receive professional development to enhance their leadership and management skills is important to their overall success and longevity in the position.
Office of Head Start Training and Technical Assistance System
The Office of Head Start (OHS) provides training and technical assistance (TTA) to all Head Start programs through regional specialists and four National TTA Centers.
Each region maintains a team of TTA specialists to support programs ― early childhood specialists, grantee specialists, health specialists, family engagement specialists, and systems specialists. There is at least one health specialist. Some regions have more than one or may have a second health specialist with expertise in mental health services. The TTA health specialist can support health managers, provide up-to-date resources and information on emerging health topics, and facilitate training on health, mental health, safety, and wellness issues. Health managers can communicate with their program director about how to access regional TTA.
Four OHS National Centers collectively support regional TTA activities through recommendations on effective practices informed by current knowledge and current and emerging research.
The four National Centers and their focus topics are:
- Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety (HBHS): physical health, behavioral health, nutrition, oral health, and safety practices, and using a trauma-informed approach and social determinants of health (SDOH) lens to support staff wellness and help Head Start children and families be as healthy as possible.
- Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE): family support and well-being, parenting, pregnancy, and partnerships with family-supporting agencies.
- Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning (ECDTL): child development, promotion of school readiness, coaching, curriculum, implementation, home visiting practices, serving children with delays and disabilities, and supporting children who are dual language learners.
- Program Management and Fiscal Operations (PMFO): fiscal management, program planning, organizational leadership, eligibility and enrollment policies, human resources, facilities, and transportation.
One of the most valuable resources for a health manager is to connect with other health managers. Many health managers work in isolation because they are the only one in their position within their organization. Many also work remotely across a wide geographic area without a designated workplace community. There are several great ways to connect with and strengthen relationships with individuals working in similar positions throughout the Head Start community, including health manager networks and MyPeers. MyPeers is a virtual space for Head Start programs, staff, and partners to connect around early childhood topics and roles. Communities and workgroups provide opportunities for discussion, highlight upcoming training events, and allow for the sharing of policies, forms, flyers, plans, and so much more.
Health manager networks are formal and informal opportunities for health managers and other key health staff to network and mentor across programs. These connections between staff with similar roles and responsibilities for managing health services provide opportunities to share innovative ideas, resources, challenges, and lessons learned. These networks can also build and support self-efficacy and job satisfaction.
In addition to virtual networking, health manager networks offer an additional connection point for health managers to support one another. The networks seek to build relationships among those in similar positions across Head Start and Early Head Start programs. They offer opportunities for information and knowledge sharing, peer support and mentoring, problem solving and capacity building, to name a few. Some networks are regional or state-based and others are specific to a local community. The members of the group determine the structure, content and how they would like to interact. Health managers have shared the many benefits of networking including sharing sample forms and policies, delivering joint trainings, orienting new managers, and identifying local partnerships. Explore these Health Manager Network Tools to learn more about what networks offer.
Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center
The Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) is the official website of OHS. It provides the latest evidence-based information, training materials, and resources that respond to the needs of Head Start programs. Explore the Upcoming Events page and navigate through the Topics menu to discover resources on health services management, mental health, nutrition, oral health, physical health, safety practices, and more. You can also use the Policy menu to access the Head Start Act, HSPPS, Information Memoranda, and Program Instructions. Use the Search bar at any time to find specific policy information and resources.
Tips and Strategies to Understand the Role of the Health Manager
- Use policy pages to learn the requirements that all programs must meet.
- Find the child care licensing regulations for your jurisdiction by accessing the National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations. In addition, keep in mind that your program may have to adhere to local building, health, and fire codes.
- Explore the professional development courses available on the Individualized Professional Development (iPD) Portfolio.
- Sign up for OHS email updates on the ECLKC.
- Identify existing health manager networks or initiate or support the formation of a new network where needed.
- Leverage peer networks to support the following:
- Policy development
- Professional development
- Information and knowledge sharing
- Peer mentoring
- Promotion of local health activities
- Support on specific health topics
- Open a MyPeers account and sign up for the NCHBHS monthly resource list to receive the latest updates on specific resources, upcoming events, and grant opportunities.
- Have a question? Contact health at ecetta dot info or (toll-free) 888-227-5125.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Audience: Directors and Managers
Last Updated: May 30, 2023