Head Start and Early Head Start programs adopt a “whole
child” approach to early care and learning. The federal guidelines they
follow require programs to provide services to all five domains of child development
Head Start and
Early Head Start have a strong focus on building family strengths as
well. Each family is assigned two points of contact when they are
participating in a Head Start or Early Head Start Program. The
classroom teacher discusses developmental needs of children with
families. This includes pre-math and pre-literacy, but also includes
their child’s social emotional development as well. The Family Service
Worker (sometimes called Family Advocates or Family Aid Workers) discuss
the strengths of the family as a whole. Based on the belief that a
parent is a child’s first and most important teacher, Family Service
Workers help families build achievable goals and connect them with
services (ex. employment, housing, medical, dental) should they be
to learn more about the comprehensive services Head Start and Early Head Start offer to families, you can visit.
What are the partner opportunities?
Start programs are very similar to State Funded Pre-K programs. This
is particularly the case in educational requirements of classroom staff,
transportation, and use of curriculum, screening and assessment tools.
In fact, when regulations for State Funded Pre-K programs were written
in 1990, the authors began with an alignment to the Head Start Performance Standards
. Since then efforts
have been made in Kentucky to ensure that regulations for State Funded
Pre-K programs maintain alignment with their Head Start Counterparts.
of this alignment, Kentucky has a long history of partnership between
school districts and Head Start grantees. These partnerships take on
many different forms and are often tailored to meet the needs of each
community. Consider approaching a potential partnership in phases:
1: Reach out to your local Head Start Contact. Discuss how your
programs are similar. Discuss how they are different. Visit a Head
Start classroom and begin to think about how you and your Head Start
partner may be able to share resources.
Step 2: When you identify
areas where you may leverage each other’s resources discuss how that may
look when you implement. For example, you may see that you both are
providing similar professional development for your teachers. Discuss
how you might develop joint training. Create a Memorandum of
Understanding (MOU) with your partner that outlines what each party is
willing to do.
Step 3: Discuss a “fully blended” delivery model. In
most cases, Schools provide classroom space for both Head Start and
State Funded Pre-K children. Lead teachers are often paid for by the
School District. However, all terms of this deliver model should be
discussed. For example, if the school is providing space, perhaps the
Head Start could provide transportation services, or meal services.
Maximizing resources leads to less duplication of services and improved
As with all partnerships, time and effort are
required to ensure they remain healthy and productive. However, time
spent understanding how you and your Head Start partners can reach the
maximum number of eligible children in your community will help ensure
those children arrive at the kindergarten door ready to grow, ready to
learn and ready to succeed!