Head Start Collaboration Offices (HSCO) 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 families1. They provide a structure and a process for OHS 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. To be effective, the HSCO director must hold a full-time position of sufficient authority and access to ensure collaboration is effective and involves a range of State Agencies2.
The Office of Head Start (OHS) established four priority areas to guide the work of the Head Start Collaboration Offices (HSCOs).
Collaborate with state systems to align early care and education services and supports for children and families prenatally to age 5. Collaborate across systems to support health, mental health, and social emotional well-being.
Here are some examples:
Work with state efforts to collect and use data on early childhood programs to guide decision-making and improve child and family outcomes. Support appropriate access to and use of data to guide decision-making and to improve outcomes in areas such as coordinated eligibility and disparities in access to services.
Support the expansion of and access to high-quality workforce and career development opportunities for staff. Work with state professional development systems, including workforce registries and career pathways, and with institutions of higher education to promote expansion and high-quality career development opportunities.
Coordinate with school systems to ensure continuity and alignment across programs, as appropriate. Promote continuity of services, program alignment, and support for successful transitions, particularly with state preschool, kindergarten, and with Title I, McKinney-Vento, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act programs.
According to the Head Start Act, HSCOs (Head Start Collaboration Offices) “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 (Sec. 642(B)(a)(2)(A)).” They provide structure and a process for OHS (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 Head Start Collaboration offices coordinate and lead efforts for diverse entities to work together include:
1 Head Start Act Section 642(B)(a)(2)(A)
2 Head Start Act Section 642(B)(a)(3)(B)