The State Advisory Council that Alaska is identified with is the Alaska Early Childhood Coordinating Council. The collaboration director serves as a voting member of the committee, as well as co-chair of both the Early Care and Learning committee and the Workforce Development Committee. AKHSSCO also works with the planning group to ensure informational flow to and from the standing committees, working groups, and sub-committees, the Council co-chairs, and the governor's office liaison to EED and the Departments of Health and Human Services and of Labor.
Major partnerships include:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- U.S. Department of Education (USDE)
- Office of Head Start (OHS)
- National Head Start Association (NHSA)
- International Renewal Institute (IRI)
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
- National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE)
- Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO)
- The Feuerstein Institute
- State Department of Health and Social Services
- State Department of Labor
- State Department of Public Safety
- Alaska Head Start Association (AHSA)
- Superintendents Association
- Infant Learning Association
- Association of Alaska School Boards
- Mental Health Board and Trust
- Native Health
- State Pre-K
- University system
- Local Head Start programs and other child care providers
- Local education agencies (LEAs)
- Local health entities and family support systems
The major goals of AKHSSCO include:
- Supporting the creation of a unified, sustainable system of early care, health, education, and support for young children and their families.
- Promoting positive development, improved health outcomes, and school readiness for all Alaska's children.
- Creating a culturally responsive, comprehensive, and accessible service delivery system that links service providers, empowers families, and engages communities.
- Enabling greater access to and expanded development of a voluntary early childhood system utilizing multiple resources in a coordinated public and private approach. This system will first focus on children and families in most need then reach out to low income and the working poor, followed by the middle class and other interested parents and families in any community across the state. While Head Start cannot serve all of these children and families, it can inform the service development and take the lead in system development such as the unified use of specific child outcomes where ever appropriate.
In addition to the contributions listed above, AKHSSCO has accomplished the following:
Child Care and Early Childhood Systems
- Created and continue to implement the State Advisory Council, working across departments and with child care, Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS), commissioners, and the governors' office. Alaska did not accept federal funding for the Council, but through this collaborative work we maintain a working level of budgetary support for this work.
- Piloted standards, quality, and technical assistance sections of a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) involving Head Start, pre-K, and other public and private preschool programs to understand feasibility and costs for these aspects of QRIS in urban, rural, and extremely remote sites around the state. These efforts have created an ongoing system of inter-rater reliable staff across program systems that are now available for implementation of Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS) and Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS™). The Office of Child Care has taken the lead in other aspects of QRIS development.
School Transitions and School Readiness
- Implemented common child outcomes assessments, such as Teaching Strategies Gold (TSG), in all Alaska Head Start programs and the Alaska Pre-K Program, with additional preschools voluntarily gaining access to the same assessment system. AKHSSCO, AHSA, and EED collaborated to bring this assessment process to the state.
- Worked with EED to provide users with a unique identifier number that will continue on with the child throughout their K-12 experience.
- Aligned TSG data with the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework, the Alaska Early Learning Guidelines, and the Alaska Developmental Profile, which is administered in kindergarten; and just completed an alignment of TSG and the new Alaska K-12 English Language Arts & Mathematics standards.
- Collaborated with the K-12 State System of Support and the EED Commissioners' office to develop connectivity, involvement, and resources between the LEAs, Head Start, and other existing early childhood programs serving the 40 lowest performing schools in the state.
- Worked with Head Start programs serving remote areas where consistent timely screenings are more difficult. Region XI offices, EED, and the University of Alaska Nurse Practitioner program are working together to provide screening services for the children in these targeted communities and to provide practitioner-to-practitioner connections with the local medical homes and health providers.