The Alabama Head Start State Collaboration Office (ALHSSCO) is located in the Alabama Department of Children's Affairs (DCA). The mission of the DCA is to provide state leadership that identifies, promotes, and coordinates services for children, their families, and communities.
The primary emphasis of the ALHSSCO is to ensure that all of Alabama's low-income children and families are prepared for school success and lifelong learning through high-quality early childhood programs. The ALHSSCO facilitates coordinating services and developing partnerships with state and local agencies that benefit Head Start children and families. The ALHSSCO director is a member of the Early Childhood and Care Advisory Council (ECAC) and a member of the Executive Leadership team.
Major partnerships include:
- Alabama Head Start Association
- Alabama State Training and Technical Assistance Team
- Other state agencies
- Alabama's Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
The major goals of ALHSSCO include:
- Increasing the participation of Head Start programs blending state and federal dollars to become First Class Pre-K programs.
- Ensuring all Head Start children receive child identifiers at kindergarten entry.
- Implementing the Teaching Strategies GOLD Assessment Toolkit as the statewide assessment tool used by all Head Start and Early Head Start grantees.
- Collaborating with the Alabama Head Start Association, T/TA team, and state agencies such as the Office of School Readiness, Department of Public Health, and the Department of Human Resources, to support strong professional development for the early care and education field in Alabama.
- Supporting the implementation of the Alabama QRIS, scheduled to launch in Fall 2013.
In addition to the contributions listed above, ALHSSCO has accomplished the following:
- Partnered and collaborated with the Office of School Readiness to increase the participation of Head Start in the First Class Pre-K program.
- With the additional funding of $9.4 million for Alabama's First Class Pre-K Program, the ALHSSCO supported Head Start programs to submit grants to the Office of School Readiness to receive state funding up to $45,000 per classroom for program quality improvement.
- Coordinated with the Alabama State Department of Education to create and launch new data fields in the state database system to capture preschool experiences prior to kindergarten. A common statewide transition form is being developed to coordinate with enrollment software for statewide launch in summer 2013.
- Co-sponsored a forum called "Workforce Partnerships in Early Childhood" with the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education.
- Provided additional training and resources to grantees on oral health, homelessness, healthy marriages and relationships, and the effects of toxic stress on early brain and child development.
- Identified a new literacy partner to grantees, Alabama's Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy by giving new books to children at "well baby" visits.