The Washington Head Start State Collaboration Office (WAHSSCO) is housed in the Department of Early Learning (DEL). It serves as a key player in ensuring that Head Start is involved in state-level planning and decision-making. The WAHSSCOworks to develop multiagency private and public partnerships at the state level that support Head Start programs and low-income children and families in Washington.
The vision of DEL is to offer world-class, developmentally and culturally appropriate early learning opportunities for all of Washington's youngest learners so each child enters kindergarten with a solid foundation for success in school and life. DEL's mission is to develop, implement, and coordinate system oversight of early learning policies and programs that create safe, healthy, nurturing learning experiences for all Washington children.
Major partnerships include:
- Early Learning Advisory Council
The major goals of WAHSSCO include:
- Fostering seamless transitions and long-term success of Head Start children by promoting continuity of services between the Head Start Child Development and Learning Framework (HSCDELF) and state early learning standards, including pre-K entry assessment and interoperable data systems.
- Collaborating with institutions of higher education to promote professional development through education and credentialing programs for early childhood providers in states.
- Coordinating activities with the state agency responsible for the State Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program and resource and referral to make full-day/full-year services available to children.
- Including Head Start Program Performance Standards in state efforts to rate the quality of programs (Quality Rating and Improvement System or QRIS), support Head Start programs in participating in QRIS, and partnering with child care and early childhood systems at the local level.
- Supporting other Regional Office priorities such as family and community partnerships; health, mental health, and oral health; disabilities; and support to military families.
In addition to the contributions listed above, WAHSSCO has accomplished the following:
- Helped coordinate the development of the Early Learning Plan, released in 2010. The Plan provides a roadmap for Washington's early learning system development over the next 10 years.
- Provided support and coordination for the redesign of Washington's Early Learning and Development Benchmarks, now Guidelines. Released in the spring of 2012, they reflect the most up-to-date research on child development, are inclusive of the birth to third grade spectrum, and recognize and celebrate Washington's increasing diversity. Alignment to various existing standards was given careful consideration, including Head Start standards.
- Served on the advisory committee for the development of Washington's successful Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant application.
- Currently, the staff lead for a pilot project to integrate Head Start into Washington's QRIS system as a part of RTT-ELC implementation.