oec: Connecticut Head Start State Collaboration Office

Connecticut Head Start State Collaboration Office


{Image of Head Start Collaboration Wordle} Section 642B of the Head Start Act authorizes the creation of State and National Collaboration offices “to facilitate collaboration among Head Start and Early Head Start agencies and the entities that carry out activities designed to benefit low income children from birth to school entry, and their families."

The Head Start State and National Collaboration Offices provide a structure and a process for the federal Office of Head Start to work with state and local entities on issues and policies that affect young children and their families.  Working together, they formulate, implement, improve and align state and local policies and practices. To be effective, the State and National Head Start Collaboration directors must ensure collaboration "is effective and involves a range of state agencies" to support the development of multi-agency and public and private partnerships at the state and national levels.

State and National Collaboration Offices involve the Connecticut Head Start Association, state agency state agency and entity partners and representatives of the broader early childhood, family support and professional development communities in planning and implementing collaborative activities and initiatives to address identified needs.

These partnerships are intended to:

  • Assist in building early childhood systems
  • Provide access to comprehensive services and support for all low-income children
  • Encourage widespread collaboration between Head Start and other appropriate programs, services, and initiatives
  • Augment Head Start's capacity to be a partner in state initiatives on behalf of children and their families
  • Facilitate the involvement of Head Start in state policies, plans, processes, and decisions affecting target populations and other low-income families 

Methods of Coordination

Methods by which State Head Start Collaboration Officers coordinate and lead efforts for diverse entities to work together include:

  • Communication - Convene stakeholder groups for information sharing and planning.  Be a conduit of information between the Regional Head Start Office and the State and local early childhood system.
  • 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, and implementation of cross agency State systems for early childhood, including the State Advisory Council (in Connecticut, the Early Childhood Cabinet), that include and serve the Head Start community.  

Scope of Work

As stated in the Head Start Act the Director of State Collaboration facilitates collaboration among Head Start agencies and State and local entities as charged by the Office of Head Start in the following key priority areas:

  • School Transitions - Foster seamless transitions and long-term success of Head Start children by promoting continuity of services between the Head Start Child Development and Learning Framework and State early learning standards including pre-k entry assessment and interoperable data systems.
  • Professional Development - Collaborate with institutions of higher education to promote professional development through education and credentialing programs for early childhood providers in states.
  • Child Care and Early Childhood Systems - Coordinate activities with the agency responsible for the State Child Care and Development Block Grant, as well as resource and referral services, to make full-working-day and full--calendar --year services available to children. Include the Head Start Program Performance Standards in state efforts to rate the quality of programs using the (Quality Rating and Improvement System, (QRIS). Support Head Start program participation in QRIS and partnering with child care and early childhood systems at the local level.
  • Regional Office Priorities - Support priorities as stated in the Head Start Act and Regional Office priorities such as family and community partnerships and other special OHS and ACF initiatives, including:
    • Services to children experiencing homelessness
    • Services to children with disabilities
    • Health services, including health, mental health, oral health, nutrition and physical activity
    • Child welfare
    • Family literacy
    • Subsidy/TANF
    • Community services
    • Military families 

Current initiatives by the Connecticut Head Start Collaboration Office

CT Head Start Association (CTHSA) and CT Head Start Training & Technical Assistance (TTA) Center – The CT HSSCO works closely with the CTHSA and TTA Center to coordinate federal resources and supports for Head Start and Early Head Start grantees and to share these resources and lessons learned with the wider early childhood system in the state. 

Early Head Start Meeting & Sharing – The HSSCO supports Early Head Start grantees to meet quarterly to share resources and support one another’s work and to engage state partners to assist in providing comprehensive services to pregnant women, infants and toddlers and their families. 

DCF-Head Start Partnership – For over 15 years the CT HSSCO has staffed, funded and co-convened this valuable collaboration to work better together in support of families.  DCF and Head Start staff from the 14 local DCF Area teams from across the state come together quarterly with their key partners, ECCP and Supportive Housing for Families, and more recently Part C/Birth to Three and Child First, at statewide meetings to strengthen their understanding of one another’s programs and their working relationships to better support families.  An Early Childhood Child Welfare federal grant infused Strengthening Families and Infant Mental Health into practice with families. 

Pyramid Partnership/CSEFEL – Building on national efforts to better address the social emotional needs of young children and their families, this collaboration of the HSSCO and the CT Head Start TTA Center with Part B-619/ Preschool Special Education, Part C/Birth to Three and ECCP has brought together various additional partners to bring the Pyramid Model resources to the early childhood community in Connecticut.  The Partnership pools federal resources from several sources to ensure they are reflect in the wider early care and education system at the state and local levels. 

WIC-Head Start Partnership – For the past four years WIC and Head Start have partnered first with UConn and more recently with University of St. Joseph to better coordinate WIC and Head Start resources to create unified messaging for families and to align resources to better meet the needs of children at nutritional risk in our state.  With grants from USDA, parents and program staff were surveyed to learn about their needs.  Interventions include increased communication among partners, alignment of practices and co-sponsoring and co-location of activities and services for families.  These ongoing efforts have been highlighted at professional meetings and in publications.

SHAPE – This USDA federal grant project supports a partnership of the HSSCO, the CT Head Start TTA Center and Head Start mentors with SSDE and DPH to share I Am Moving, I Am Learning (IMIL) with center and family based early childhood settings.  IMIL, an evidence-based approach that addresses childhood obesity in preschool-aged children by promoting healthy nutrition and physical activity, is widely used in Head Start nationwide.  SHAPE shares this resource with non-Head Start preschool programs.

Infant Mental Health Capacity Building – The HSSCO works closely with the CT-AIMH to build a workforce competent in services suing an infant mental health approach.  A collaboration with DCF, Part C/Birth to Three, and Family Based Recovery provides subsidies for staff to receive Reflective Supervision.  The HSSCO supports CT-AIMH to facilitate local networks that encourage programs share training resources and support staff to obtain endorsement in Infant Mental Health. 

Head Start-Family Shelter Partnership – Head Start grantees have partnered with family shelters in their communities to increase Head Start/Early Head Start enrollment, to “child proof” family shelters, and to work better together to support families with housing needs.  By engaging one another in each other’s service networks, housing resources can be shared with early childhood providers and early childhood resources can be shared with housing providers thus offering more coordinated services to families. 

ECHO – Part of a national Early Head Start effort to encourage healthy learning, this project aims to ensure that Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Hearing Screening is available and reliable through Early Head Start programs.  Training is being offered through both LULAC Head Start/Early Head Start and UConn and programs will be supported in developing strong screening services in their program and strong partnerships with audiology service providers in their communities.

Health Supports – The HSSCO meets with Head Start/Earl Head Start Health and Nutrition Managers to provide support for their network and to assist in connecting Head Start with state health systems.  Current issues for this group include connecting with dental service providers, addressing discontinuity between the CT Early Childhood Health Assessment Record (yellow form) and new electronic health forms, and partnering with CHDI in presenting the EPIC module on Early Childhood Health to pediatric practices.

Connecticut Activities – The HSSCO is a member of the CT Early Childhood Cabinet/State Advisory Council, the Head Start Advisory Council and the OEC Leadership Team.  The HSSCO participates on work groups, advisories and task forces that address a variety of topics related to the needs of Head Start and other low-income families, e.g., Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) Advisory, CT Two-Generational Work Group and OEC’s Home Visiting Work Group.

National Activities – The HSSCO is an active member of the Connecticut, New England and National Head Start Associations.  The HSSCO sits on the Board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Youth and its Early Childhood Committee and serves as Treasurer and Operations Committee Chair.  The HSSCO currently serves on an Advisory Committee for the Office of Head Start National Center on Health to promote pediatric partnerships with Head Start.  The HSSCO works closely with the Office of Head Start and the National Network of State and National Collaboration Offices to achieve goals as set for the in the Head Start Act. 

Grant Applications

Contact Information: 
Connecticut Office of Early Childhood
Head Start State Collaboration Office
450 Columbus Blvd.

Hartford, CT  06103

Telephone: (860) 500-4537

Content Last Modified on 3/29/2017 10:28:00 AM