The New York State Head Start State Collaboration Office (NYHSSCO) is located in the NY Council on Children and Families, which is a unit of state government established to coordinate health, education, and human services agencies. The Council reports directly to the Governor's Office. Over the past 25 years, the Council has assumed a leadership role in reversing years of isolated programming and planning of early childhood services. Their mission is to coordinate efforts to achieve the collective vision of its member agencies—that all children, youth, and families in New York State will be healthy and have the knowledge, skills, and resources to succeed in a dynamic society.
NYHSSCO has worked through the NYS Head Start Collaboration Project to link Head Start and Early Head Start with other early childhood programs and other services and supports for low-income families. Due to this activity, Head Start is well represented on state planning and policy boards, and Head Start's presence as a leader in the field of early childhood education has significantly increased. This partnership has served as a model for initiating collaborative programs and opportunities throughout New York.
Major partnerships include:
- NYS Early Childhood Advisory Council (and its members)
- Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Initiative
- Project LAUNCH Initiative
- NYS Education Department
- Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Team
- Early Care and Learning Council
- The New York State Head Start Association
The NYHSSCO identifies with the New York State Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC). ECAC was established and began meeting in May 2009. It has approximately 50 members, including representatives from early childhood, health care, child welfare, and mental health programs; advocacy organizations; institutions of higher education; unions; state agencies; parents and families; and others involved in the provision of comprehensive services to young children and their families.
The major goals of NYHSSCO include:
- Ensuring all children enrolled in Head Start or Early Head Start will have access to medical, dental, and mental health providers.
- Providing children with safe and healthy environments in which to grow and develop.
- Helping grantees with a stronger understanding of the available programs and services for families.
- Identifying children and families experiencing challenges at the earliest possible point and linking them to the supports and services they need.
- Helping low-income families receive the appropriate services and subsidies as soon as possible for the best outcomes.
- Raising the quality of all early learning programs in the state by implementing QUALITYstarsNY (QSNY) across the state.
- Enhancing families' transitions from Head Start to school.
- Strengthening the state's early learning workforce.
- Making parent education in the state accessible, high quality, and effective.
- Ensuring early childhood educators and parents understand how to promote optimal health and development, including social and emotional development, for young children.
- Making sure all preschoolers will be served in the least restrictive early learning setting.
- Helping to overcome obstacles to collaborative relationships between the Head Start programs with McKinney-Vento homeless education liaisons.
- Developing a comprehensive early childhood data system.
In addition to the contributions listed above, NYHSSCO has accomplished the following:
- Implemented QUALITYstarsNY in 450 early childhood education programs across the state, including 65 Early Head Start and Head Start programs. Head Start and Early Head Start programs in full compliance with the Head Start Program Performance Standards are able to complete a streamlined assessment and documentation process.
- Worked closely with the NYS Education Department and Regional Office to strengthen transition practices by holding transition forums modeled after the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL) transition events across the state in 2013.
- Played a major role in efforts to develop the NYS Early Learning Guidelines (birth to age 5) and complete a major revision of the Core Body of Knowledge, which outlines what teachers need to know and be able to do.
- Developed the NYS Early Learning Alignment Crosswalk, which allows early care and education professionals to see the state documents side by side. It highlights the shared vision of what children should be doing in the early years so as to develop to their full potential.
- Assisted in the dissemination of the Early Learning Guidelines, Core Body of Knowledge, and Early Learning Alignment Crosswalk to all Head Start, Early Head Start, and licensed child care centers in the state.