Head Start Collaboration Offices and State Systems

Head Start Collaboration Offices: National Priorities

The Office of Head Start has prioritized the work of the Head Start Collaboration Offices (HSCOs) to guide their activities. The six priorities are:

Partner with state child care systems emphasizing the Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership Initiatives.

The EHS-CC Partnerships require a strong relationship between the Head Start Collaboration Office and the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Administration Offices. These and other partnerships work with child care help support access to quality early care and education programs for all families with low incomes, as well as access to more comprehensive services.

Work with state efforts to collect data regarding early childhood programs and child outcomes.

State policymakers need to establish policies, practices, and structures that ensure appropriate access to data. They also must help stakeholders use data effectively to guide decision-making around early childhood education (ECE) systems. As a stakeholder in state ECE systems, Head Start can help support and provide valuable input and data for a well-coordinated ECE data system that can feed into a national data system.

Support the expansion and access of high quality, workforce and career development opportunities for staff.

Work with state professional development systems and institutions of higher education to promote expansion and high quality career development opportunities. This allows clear cut access for early childhood providers to meet degree and credentialing requirements.

Collaboration with State Quality Rating Improvement Systems such as QRIS.

Work toward aligning the Head Start Program Performance Standards with state efforts to rate and improve the quality of programs through Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS). Support Head Start program use of QRIS and partnering with child care and early childhood systems at the local level. This also provides a foundation to look at how Head Start, QRIS, and state licensing align for a stronger ECE state system.

Work with State school systems to ensure continuity between Head Start and receiving schools.

Foster seamless transitions and long-term success of Head Start children. Promote continuity of services between the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework and state early learning standards. Include pre-K entry assessment and interoperable data systems.

Priorities may include additional regional activities when needed.

HSCOs exist “to facilitate collaboration among Head Start agencies and entities that carry out activities designed to benefit low-income children from birth to school entry, and their families," according to the Head Start Act, Section 642(B)(a)(2)(A). They provide a structure and a process for the Office of Head Start to work and partner with state agencies and local entities to leverage their common interests around young children and their families to formulate, implement, and improve state and local policy and practices. 

The methods by which each HSCO coordinates and leads efforts for diverse entities to work together include:

Communication: Convene stakeholder groups for information sharing, planning, and partnering and serve as a conduit of information between regional offices, the state and local early childhood systems.

Access: Facilitate Head Start agencies’ access to, and utilization of, appropriate entities so Head Start children and families can secure needed services and critical partnerships are formalized.

Systems: Support policy, planning, partnerships, and implementation of cross-agency state systems for early childhood, including the State Advisory Council, that include and serve the Head Start community.