The Arkansas Head Start State Collaboration Office (ARHSSCO) is located in Little Rock as a stand-alone for the Arkansas Head start Association. Funds for ARHSSCO are provided through the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE). The purpose of the ARHSSCO is to create a visible presence at the state level, which can assist in the development of significant multi-agency, public, and private partnerships between Head Start and the state. In addition to serving as chair for the AR Early Childhood Commission State Advisory Council (AECC/SAC), the ARHSSCO coordinates and lead efforts for diverse entities to work together by:
- Effectively Communicating: Convene stakeholder groups for information- sharing and planning. Be a conduit of information between the Regional Office and the state and local early childhood system.
- Providing Access: Facilitate Head Start agencies' access to, and utilization of, appropriate entities so children and families can secure needed services and critical partnerships are formalized.
- Creating Systems: Support policy, planning, and implementation of cross-agency state systems for early childhood that include and serve the Head Start community.
Some major partnerships include:
- DHS - Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education and Division for Children and Families Services
- Arkansas Department of Education
- Arkansas Department of Higher Education
- Arkansas Health Department
- Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs
- Arkansas Court Team, Zero to Three
- Arkansas Literacy Council
- Partners for Inclusive Communities
- Arkansas Oral Health Coalition
- Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (Grade Level Reading Campaign)
- Arkansas Educational Cooperatives
- Arkansas Research Center State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS)
- Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
- UAMS Department of Family Medicine
The major goals of ARHSSCO include, but are not limited to:
- Enhancing and maintaining collaboration and coordination among Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) with child care in order to provide full-day/full-year comprehensive and quality services for children.
- Enhancing and maintaining collaboration, coordination, and alignment of transition services and curriculum by Head Start programs with state-funded pre-K programs and public schools.
- Enhancing and supporting Head Start, Early Head Start, and MSHS programs' ability to access quality professional development opportunities in order to maintain skilled and competent staff.
- Enhancing and supporting strong collaboration and coordination with Head Start, Early Head Start, and MSHS programs in building early childhood systems and access to comprehensive community services for children.
- Supporting Regional Office priorities, projects, and initiatives by maintaining an open line of effective communication and ongoing human development relationships and activities.
- Enhancing and maintaining collaboration and coordination among Head Start, Early Head Start, and MSHS and local providers for access to comprehensive services around health, homelessness, welfare, children with disabilities, family literacy, and community engagement.
- Enhancing, supporting, and maintaining collaboration, coordination, and alignment of services in education focusing on school readiness, especially among Head Start, Early Head Start, MSHS, state-funded pre-K programs, and AK public schools.
- Enhancing and maintaining collaboration and coordination among Head Start, Early Head Start, and MSHS programs to support and provide needed services to military children and families.
In support of the goals listed above, ARHSSCO has accomplished the following activities:
- Created 14 local teams statewide to network and to participate in a training on school readiness, data systems, and transition. The teams consisted of different representatives from the public schools, Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), Special Education, Head Start, AR Better Chance (ABC), and the State Department of Education. The local teams provided the state team with a variety of items to work on, including assistance in keeping the lines of communication open and continuing the work at the local level to improve school readiness in Arkansas. Due to the success of these teams, this has become an annual event.
- Set up a communications forum for local teams to continue their work and to continue an open line of communication. The open forum will include: Arkansas Comprehension Early Childhood Education/Assessment Mode (ARCECEAM), state legislative updates, AECC/SAC, Grade Level Reading Campaign (GLRC), and suggestions for local school readiness teams. To access the forum, visit www.arheadstart.org.
- Approved the creation of a task force to explore the importance of having a statewide early childhood assessment to secure data on how young childhood children are progressing and learning in Arkansas. The ARCECEAM task force will work collaboratively with the Arkansas Research Center out of Conway, AR.
- Conducted a Governor's Oral Health Summit to communicate and identify dentists for Head start programs located in rural areas and to get more dentists to accept Medicaid in partnership with the Oral Health Coalition.
- Successfully completed an eight-week statewide read-a-thon with all Head Start programs, whereby more than 4,000 books were read to children by parents, grandparents, and community partners to support the Grade Level Reading Campaign.
- Created a system of statewide partners to support fathers in Arkansas at the local level. The National Fatherhood Clearinghouse will use the Arkansas model to encourage and assist other states to do the same.