The New Hampshire Head Start State Collaboration Office (NHHSSCO) is located in the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division for Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). DCYF's mission is to assist families in the protection, development, permanency, and well-being of their children in the community in which they live. The purpose of NHHSSCO is to foster collaboration and teamwork between Head Start and state and local partners, strengthen and align early childhood systems, and to improve access to comprehensive services for income-eligible families of young children.
The NHHSSCO works closely with Head Start programs and the NH Head Start Directors Association on the following priority areas in the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007:
- School readiness, transition, and alignment
- Early childhood systems building
- Professional development
- Child care
- Health care (including oral health, mental health, and nutrition)
- Children with disabilities and their families
- Children who are homeless and their families
- Community services
- Family literacy
- Family assistance (child and family welfare)
NHHSSCO chairs Spark New Hampshire, the state Early Childhood Advisory Council, and serves on numerous committees.
The major goals of NHHSSCO include:
- Improving transition (continuity) from Head Start to kindergarten, school readiness, and alignment with the K-12 system by enhancing partnerships with the NH Department of Education and local school districts.
- Collaborating with institutions of higher education to promote professional development through education and credentialing programs for early childhood providers.
- Increasing access to quality child care through the work of state committees and by enhancing Head Start relationships with state and local providers.
- Creating a comprehensive early childhood system in NH.
- Increasing Head Start state and local family and community partnerships via interagency agreements and participation on committees.
- Improving access to health, oral health, and early childhood mental health services.
- Improving access to supports and services for young children with disabilities and their families.
- Improve access to community services by enhancing partnerships with state and local organizations and agencies.
- Reducing homelessness for young children and their families by enhancing partnerships with relevant state and community organizations and agencies.
- Improving access to family literacy services.
In addition to the contributions listed above, NHHSSCO has accomplished the following:
- Completed work on the New Hampshire Kindergarten Readiness Indicators (NHKRI), which was endorsed by the NH Board of Education in December 2012. The indicators establish a common standard for kindergarten readiness for children entering kindergarten. The document was also used to draft NH's early learning standards for young children from birth to 5 years of age. The NHHSSCO director convened the NH Kindergarten Readiness Task Force and took the lead in drafting crosswalks, updating document drafts, and soliciting feedback from the early childhood community on its behalf.
- Supported a University of NH grant application to the U.S. Department of Education targeting the use of technology to improve literacy in Head Start classrooms. The grant was funded and two grantees currently participate in this project.
- Worked with the Head Start Directors Association, Head Start State T/TA Office, and the Child Development Bureau to create an Early Head Start option within the infant/toddler professional credential endorsement for professionals seeking employment in Early Head Start.
- Featured in a national ZERO TO THREE publication on improving access to programs for young children. Local Head Start and child care memoranda of understanding (MOAs) have been developed with three child care programs, which enables them to bill the NH Child Care Scholarship Program directly for wrap-around services for children in Head Start.
- Ensured representation on all state committees regarding quality early childhood programs in NH. Included are the state Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Task Force, Spark NH, Let's Grow! NH Leadership Team, Early Learning Standards Committee, Infant/Toddler Credential Endorsement Task Force, Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Home Visiting, and many others.
- Developed and signed a state Head Start and Part C (early intervention) MOUM.
- Increased collaboration between Head Start and community partners. When compared with results from 2008, the 2012 NH Head Start Statewide Needs Assessment indicated that grantees had increased their level of partnership with organizations and providers in five areas: school transition and alignment; services for children with disabilities; family literacy; child welfare; and child care and healthcare.
- Co-authored successful grant applications that will further the work in several priority areas, including oral health, early childhood mental health, and developmental screening. For example, the HSSCO director participated on the Project LAUNCH grant writing team.
- Worked with Teaching Strategies (TS) Gold representatives, preschool special education coordinators, and Head Start staff to identify strategies for data sharing and allow Head Start programs to utilize TS Gold under the state license.
- Continues to work as co-administrator on the implementation, quality assurance, and sustainability of Watch Me Grow, NH's newly developed screening and referral system.
- Supervised three student interns from the University of NH Child and Family Studies program, each of whom contributed 10 hours per week over 12 weeks to a variety of HSSCO projects, which greatly facilitated the work. Additionally, the NHHSSCO supervised a Senior Community Employment Program worker who provided administrative support at no cost to this office for 15 hours per week over six months.
- Developed and disseminated a Head Start booklet entitled, "Growing and Learning in NH Head Start: 2012," as well as state- and grantee-level Head Start fact sheets.