The Vermont Head Start-State Collaboration Office (VTHSSCO) is located in the Child Development Division (CDD), Department for Children and Families (DCF), Agency of Human Services (AHS). The mission of DCF is to foster the healthy development, safety, well-being, and self-sufficiency of Vermonters. DCF is passionate about prevention and strives to reduce poverty and homelessness, improve the safety and well-being of children and families, create permanent connections for children and youth, and provide timely and accurate financial supports for children, individuals, and families.
CDD's goal is to increase access to high-quality services that are developmentally beneficial for children and strengthen families. We do this by working with programs within communities to coordinate and deliver services that meet families' needs.
Major VTHSSCO partnerships and collaborations include:
- Vermont Head Start Association (VHSA)
- Vermont Business Roundtable
- Governor's Office
- Agency of Education
- Building Bright Futures State Advisory Council, Inc. (BBF SAC)
- DCF, AHS
- Agency of Education
VTHSSCO is a signatory to "Supporting Children with Disabilities and Their Families: An Interagency Agreement Among Early Care, Health, and Education Programs and Agencies in Vermont" [PDF, 306KB].
The major goals of VTHSSCO include:
- Increasing the percentage of young children who have a dental home through VHSA's Tooth Tutor Initiative.
- Implementing data, evaluation, and professional development initiatives.
- Improving the state's Kindergarten Readiness Survey (KRS).
- Implementing statewide initiatives to reduce and eliminate tobacco use among Head Start and Early Head Start parents, teachers, and staff.
- Developing a state-funded home visiting system and increasing early educators' access to higher education degrees and credentials.
- Actively engaging families, school principals, kindergarten teachers, Head Start education managers and teachers, and other preschool providers in the design and implementation of a "pre-K to kindergarten" school transitions system within each of the Head Start service areas to support all children's school readiness.
- Working strategically to increase the number of qualified early childhood and family services staff that meet or exceed the Head Start Act requirements for teacher and staff qualifications through efforts to increase access to professional development opportunities.
- Partnering Head Start and Early Head Start with other provider networks to increase access to high-quality child development programs and coordinated family services.
- Creating intentional partnerships between Head Start and Early Head Start grantees and their community, state, and federal partners to effectively coordinate services to support and strengthen children and their families.
In addition to the contributions listed above, VTHSSCO has accomplished the following:
- Successfully applied for and was awarded a federal Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant.
- Co-sponsored a higher education community forum with the Vermont Business Roundtable Higher Early Education Taskforce (VBR HEET), Bennington County Head Start (BCHS), and the Bennington Building Bright Futures Regional Council. Higher education speakers provided college degree, credential, and articulation agreement information to an early childhood educator audience.
- Participated on the planning committee of the New England Head Start Association Conference, which focused on family engagement. About 300 practitioners in Head Start, Early Head Start, and other early childhood education programs attended.
- Participated as a member of Vermont's successful federal fiscal year 2013 RTT-ELC grant application design team.
- Partnered with other home visiting provider stakeholders to secure the enactment of home visiting legislation by Vermont lawmakers to develop state-based multi-model standards which would include the Early Head Start home visiting model and other evidence-based models.
- Clarified the federal Head Start and Early Head Start requirements around serving young children with disabilities.
- Supported the work of VHSA's Tooth Tutor program to increase the percentage of young children with a dental home. The percentage of preschool-age Head Start children having a dental home increased from 81 percent in 2011 to almost 94 percent in 2012.
- Provided considerable technical support and evaluation expertise to the statewide VHSA Head Start Cessation and Prevention Initiative to reduce secondhand smoke exposure among Head Start and Early Head Start families and to link them to tobacco cessation services.
- Served as a member of the BBF SAC Data and Evaluation Committee's kindergarten readiness work group, which successfully applied for a Henderson Foundation grant to enhance the state's KRS.
- Produced the January 2014 document, Special Report: Estimated Impacts of Actual and Projected Sequestration Cuts on Head Start and Early Head Start Programs in Vermont (see http://dcf.vermont.gov/sites/dcf/files/pdf/cdd/Impact_of_Federal_Sequestration_on_Head_Start_Programs_in_Vermont_January_2014.pdf [PDF, 445KB]).
- Produced a February 2014 Resources Guide for Regional Head Start – Early Head Start and Reach Up Teams, entitled Working Together For Families. Reach Up is the State of Vermont's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
- Attended the World Café at the Building Bright Futures 2nd Annual Early Childhood Data Reporting System Stakeholder (ECDRS) Meeting to share how VTHSSCO and Head Start and Early Head Start data could interface with ECDRS system.