The Maryland Head Start State Collaboration Office (MDHSSCO) is located in the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). The mission of MSDE is to provide leadership, support, and accountability for effective systems of public education, library services, and rehabilitation services. The Division of Early Childhood Development (DECD) oversees the MDHSSCO, and their mission is to improve early care and education in Maryland so that young children are well prepared for school. Finally, the mission of the Maryland Head Start Collaboration Project is to establish partnerships and collaborative efforts to build an effective early care and education system that works to achieve positive outcomes and results for children and families.
Through its position in the DECD, MDHSSCO helps direct diverse resources and serves as a major conduit for information and collaboration opportunities within the Head Start community, including:
- Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant
- Maryland EXCELS Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
- Public prekindergarten policy
- Quality improvements for early childhood programs
- Professional development in many areas
The State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECAC) was established in 2008. The MDHSSCO director is a member of the Council and of the executive planning team.
Major partnerships include:
- Infants and Toddlers Programs
- Home Visiting Consortium
- Special Education/Early Intervention
- Child and Adult Food Program
- School health
- Teacher certification
- PreK-12 standards
- Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
- Early Childhood Comprehensive Services Grant
- Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Project
The major goals of MDHSSCO include:
- Contributing to building partnerships between Head Start and local education agencies
- Coordinating a state-wide professional development system
- Supporting improvements in overall program quality, including the quality of classroom instruction
- Improving the access of Head Start children and their families to high-quality, coordinated, comprehensive services
In addition to the contributions listed above, MDSSCO has accomplished the following:
- Helped to create positive changes in service delivery systems through leadership function in ECAC. Notably, the ECAC advises MSDE on the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant.
- Assisted in establishing a Head Start and Early Head Start presence on the newly created local early childhood advisory councils in every county and Baltimore City.
- Provided Oral Health Curriculum and kits to all requesting Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
- Worked with two- and four-year colleges to incorporate Social and Emotional Foundations of Early Learning principles and practices into early childhood development courses.
- Encouraged use of the Maryland Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program to assist Head Start programs with child behavior concerns.
- Staffed the Family Engagement Coalition that developed Maryland-specific strategies for Head Start and child care based on the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.
- Produced an alignment of the Head Start Child Outcomes, the Maryland Model for School Readiness, and Health Beginnings for Children Birth through 3.
- Coordinated the annual submission of Head Start data on children entering kindergarten to MSDE.