The West Virginia Head Start State Collaboration Office (WVHSSCO) is located inthe West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR). WVHSSCO's mission is to facilitate and enhance coordination and collaboration between Head Start and Early Head Start agencies and other state and local entities that provide comprehensive services designed to benefit low-income pregnant women, children from birth to age 5, and their families.
The mission of WVDHHR, Bureau of Children and Families is to provide an accessible, integrated, comprehensive quality service system for West Virginia's children, families, and adults to help them achieve maximum potential and improve their quality of life.
Major partnerships include:
- West Virginia Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC) – facilitate the participation of local Head Start and Early Head Start programs onto numerous committees and workgroups.
- West Virginia Head Start Association (WVHSA) – facilitate and enhance partnerships with the state and local agencies, organizations, foundations, and leaders involved in designated priority areas in support of low-income families.
- WV Universal Pre-K, Part C (birth to 3), Child Care, and Home Visitation – provides information and support to local Head Start programs that contract with local education agencies to serve as providers of comprehensive early childhood services to Head Start-eligible children participating in pre-K.
- WV Pre-K Steering Team – provides consistent and compatible direction, guidance, and technical assistance to local county pre-K teams developing plans in accordance with WV Board of Education Policy 2525 in order to support and promote collaborative efforts and maximization of resources.
The major goals of WVHSSCO include:
- Reducing the duplication of services, extending limited resources, and creating initiatives on behalf of low-income children and their families, taking into account national, regional, and state Head Start priorities.
- Strengthening the working relationships between Head Start programs and other public and private agencies and organizations to better meet the needs of young children and families at the local level.
- Supporting WVHSA's growth and development as a viable association, integrally involved in collaborative initiatives throughout the state.
- Meaningful input from Head Start at the regional and state levels into decisions that promote collaboration in planning, implementing, and evaluating early childhood and family development programs.
- Maintaining a system to gather and disseminate information about Head Start programs as a point of contact for agencies and planners seeking information about the Head Start population and the services that are provided.
- Addressing the needs of Head Start and Early Head Start grantees in West Virginia with respect to collaboration, coordination, and alignment of services and curricula and assessments required by the Office of Head Start.
In addition to the contributions listed above, WVHSSCO has accomplished the following:
- Inclusion of Head Start-enrolled children in the West Virginia Education Information System (WVEIS), allowing the assignment of a unique identifier for Head Start children and entry of child outcome and health data into WVEIS.
- Universal use of the state approved pre-K assessment for children enrolled in both center- and home-based Head Start. All Head Start programs enter this data into WVEIS. As a result, all programs are able to access the WV Child Assessment System Platform and generate reports on child progress and outcomes. State level reports on child outcomes can also be generated.
- Collaborated with the WV Department of Education (WVDE) on the creation of the first statewide comprehensive school readiness profiles for every county in WV. It is an integral component in increasing school readiness for children and promoting continuous quality improvement efforts in Head Start and WV universal pre-K.
- Collaborated with the WVDE, WV Head Start Association, child care, and labor to address credentialing requirements for individuals working as teacher assistants. Collaboratively embracing this vision for WV resulted in new legislation passed during the 2013 session that will now raise educational requirements for teacher assistants in both pre-K and kindergarten.
- Partnered with WVDE to develop online courses for professionals working in early childhood. The first three courses became available in the fall of 2012 and are accessible through the WVDE e-learning system. The e-learning system has historically been accessible only to local education agency (LEA) staff. This partnership has allowed staff from Head Start and child care to enroll in these courses for the first time. These courses have had great demand and three additional courses are currently being developed. Ultimately, the vision is to build upon this work and create a state certificate for teacher assistants in WV.
- Adopted and implemented the Michigan Infant Mental Health Competencies and Credentialing System.
- Revised and updated the WV Core Competencies for Early Childhood Professionals.
- Created and launched our infant/toddler public awareness campaign, The First Thousand Days. Visit http://wvearlylearning.org/ for more information.