The Virginia Head Start State Collaboration Office (VAHSSCO) is located in the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Development. The mission of the VDSS is people helping people triumph over poverty, abuse, and neglect to shape strong futures for themselves, their families, and communities.
The State Advisory Council in Virginia is the Virginia Early Childhood Advisory Council, of which the VAHSSCO director is a member and a leader. The VAHSSCO works closely with Virginia Head Start Association (VAHSA) and the Virginia Head Start T/TA Office to ensure Head Start is represented on the many state-level early childhood related advisory boards, task forces, and committees.
Major partnerships include:
- Head Start, Early Head Start, and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs
- Virginia Department of Education (VDOE): Early Childhood Special Education
- Virginia Preschool Initiative
- Virginia Community College System
- Virginia Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative
- Virginia Early Childhood Foundation
- Child Care Aware of Virginia
- Military Child Care Liaison (a division of Child Care Aware of America)
- Virginia Department of Health (VDH)
- Virginia Association for Early Childhood Education (VAECE)
- Virginia Infant and Toddler Specialist Network
- Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Voices for Virginia's Children
- Library of Virginia Children's and Youth Services
- VCU Partnership for People with Disabilities
- Prevent Child Abuse Virginia
In addition to the Virginia Early Childhood Advisory Council, the VAHSSCO director serves on the following:
- Virginia Early Childhood Mental Health Advisory Board
- Virginia Home Visiting Consortium
- Virginia Infant and Toddler Specialist Network Leadership Council
- Virginia Child Welfare Advisory Council
- VDOE Early Childhood Network
- Virginia Cross-Sector Professional Development Leadership Team
- Virginia Early Childhood Technical Assistance (TA) Workgroup
- Virginia HS Health Advisory Committee
- Virginia Interagency Coordinating Council for Early Intervention Services
The major goals of VAHSSCO include:
- Facilitating multi-level collaboration among early childhood stakeholders to establish high quality comprehensive early care and education systems.
- Helping children and families access seamless transitions between learning environments, including from home to preschool and from preschool to kindergarten.
- Providing accessible early childhood education professional development through local colleges and universities.
- Ensuring that children and families have access to full-day/full-year early childhood services that reflect the Head Start Program Performance Standards.
- Fostering accessible health care services for children and families that are supported by health care professionals in their communities.
- Helping children experiencing homelessness gain greater access to early childhood programs and support services.
- Improving the flow of information between Head Start programs and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), foster care, and child protective services about available services and supports.
- Providing children and families participating in early childhood programs access to family literacy resources.
- Assisting children and families participating in early childhood programs with access to all relevant community services.
- Ensuring children with special needs are included in early childhood programs and receive appropriate supports.
In addition to the contributions listed above, VAHSSCO has accomplished the following:
- Financially supported and promoted two initiatives: Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning's (CSEFEL) Pyramid Model Train-the-Trainer Initiative and Implementation of the Infant Mental Health Credential (purchased from Michigan).
- Participated in a collaborative cost-sharing agreement with VDOE and the Infant and Toddler Connection of Virginia to fund the VA Early Childhood Mental Health Coordinator position, which works toward advancing early childhood mental health initiatives in Virginia.
- Provided funding support for the first annual Virginia Early Childhood Mental Health Summit held in September 2012.
- Partnered with the VAHSA to provide support and funding for the VAHSA Annual Conference, VAHSA Directors Council, ACF Region III Health Institute (sponsored by VAHSA), and the VAHSA Infant-Toddler Summit.
- Provided scholarships for HS staff to attend each VAHSA training event.
- Partnered with VDOE Early Childhood Special Education in the annual Creating Connections to Shining Stars conference by providing scholarships for HS staff to attend.
- Offered scholarships to early childhood providers for the VAHSA Infant-Toddler Summit in a collaborative effort to share training resources.
- Provided funding support and currently serves on the Virginia Home Visiting Consortium (HVC), a collaboration of statewide early childhood home visiting programs that serve families of children from pregnancy through age 5. HVC oversees the administration of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program funding projects, which are managed by VDH.
- Provided funding to support the shipment of 30 high quality hardcover books to each Head Start classroom in VA (30,000 books). The books were donated by various publishers through the Soho Center in Madison, VA.