The North Carolina Head Start State Collaboration Office (NCHSSCO) is located in the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), Office of Early Learning. NCDPI's Office of Early Learning implements a strategic focus on the pre-K through grade three learning continuum and its impact on high school graduation. Their focus on alignment of standards, curriculum, instructional practices, and assessment maximizes learning gains for children throughout these early grades, providing a strong academic foundation that leads to improved high school graduation rates. The Office of Early Learning integrates and oversees state and federal funding for academic pre-K programs under the authority of the NC State Board of Education, including:
- Even Start Family Literacy
- The Head Start State Collaboration Office
- The Governor Morehead Preschool for the Visually Impaired
- The Early Intervention Program for Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
- Preschool Exceptional Children
- Title I Preschool
Since 1992, the NCHSSCO has worked to support Head Start and Early Head Start grantees with coordinating and aligning their services with initiatives and entities that strengthen the workforce and improve services to children and families.
Major partnership initiatives include:
- Expanding access to dental homes
- Improving services for children and families experiencing homelessness
- Professional development and credentialing opportunities for the NC Head Start workforce
- Building Head Start's capacity to participate in and contribute to the state's Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS)
The NCHSSCO director is an appointed member of identifies with the North Carolina Early Childhood Advisory Council.
The major goals of NCHSSCO include:
- Prioritizing health care, family literacy, child welfare, community services, professional development, children and families experiencing homelessness, military families, etc.
- Augmenting the capacity of Head Start to be represented and included in the state's early childhood system and policy-making processes
In addition to the contributions listed above, NCHSSCO has accomplished the following:
- Pursued more than 12 federal and Regional Office priorities that inform work around assisting NC Head Start and Early Head Start grantees with the alignment and coordination of their services with state and national entities
- Strengthening the Head Start and Early Head Start workforce, as well as the services they provide to at-risk children and families