Head Start State Collaboration Offices (HSSCO) facilitate partnerships between Head Start agencies and other state entities that provide services to benefit low-income children and their families. HSSCO are awarded funds under Section 642B of the 2007 Head Start Act.

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Early Head Start Grant Opportunity

Early Head Start Grant Opportunity: The purpose of the grant is to increase the capacity of providers of Infant/Toddler services to successfully maintain adherence to requirements of the Head Start Program Performance Standards through collaborative partnerships within Early Head Start programs. The focus of this grant serves to increase collaboration through birth-five partnerships as an infrastructure underpinning to leverage federal funding opportunities specific to future Early Head Start grants.

Application deadline: Friday, April 26, 2024

Early Head Start Grant Information Webinars are being offered via Zoom:

  • March 29, 2024, 10-11 a.m.
  • April 1, 2024, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • April 1, 2024, 3-4 p.m.

Questions about the grant can be directed to Monica Garner at monica.garner@iowa.gov on or before April 5, 2024

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Head Start Programs

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Purpose of HSSCO

  • Create a visible presence for Head Start at the State level to support development and sustainability of collaborative partnerships between multi-agency, public-private partnerships and stake-holders to ensure children in Head Start are receiving comprehensive services to prepare the children for elementary school.
  • Coordinate federal, state and local policy to help ensure a unified early care and education system and strengthen family and community environments.
  • Support building of early childhood systems, access to comprehensive services and support for all low-income children.
  • Facilitate the involvement of Head Start in State policies, plans, processes, and decisions affecting the Head Start target populations and other low-income families.
  • Increase Head Start’s capacity to be a partner in State initiatives and local grassroots efforts to better conduct outreach on behalf of children and their families to enhance program quality.
  • Foster and enhance widespread collaboration between Head Start and other appropriate programs, services, and initiatives.
  • Enable Head Start communities to better access professional development opportunities for staff including meeting degree requirements and increased accessibility to higher education.
  • Assist Head Start agencies to align curricula and assessments used in Head Start programs with the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework and, as appropriate, State early learning standards.

Head Start Act Sec. 642B Head Start Collaboration: State Early Education and Care

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Federal Priorities

In 2023, the Office of Head Start updated the priority areas to guide the work of the HSSCO:

  1. Collaborate with state systems to align early care and education services and supports for children and families prenatally to age 5.
    • Support the comprehensive service Head Start provides to children including categorical eligibility areas of foster care, homelessness, and families receiving SNAP/FIP benefits.
  2. Work with state efforts to collect and use data on early childhood programs to guide decision-making and improve child and family outcomes.
  3. Support the expansion of and access to high-quality workforce and career development opportunities for staff.
  4. Coordinate with school systems to ensure continuity and alignment across programs, as appropriate.

State and Regional Priorities

According to the Head Start Act, HSSCOs "facilitate collaboration among Head Start agencies and entities which  carry out activities designed to benefit low-income children from birth to school entry, and their families (Sec. 642(B)(a)(2)(A))."

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Head Start Organizational Structure

  • Federal: Head Start is administered by the Office of Head Start, the Administration on Young Children Youth and Families (ACYF), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
    • Head Start programs deliver services through 1,600 agencies in local communities. Most Head Start programs are run by non-profit organizations, schools, and community action agencies. They provide services to more than a million children every year in every U.S. state and territory. (2020)
  • Regional: Grants are awarded by the ACYF’s Regional Offices directly to public agencies, private organizations, Indian Tribes and school systems which are called “recipients” to operate Head Start program(s) at the local (community) level. 
    • Head Start is funded Federal to Local.
    • Iowa is part of Region VII located in Kansas City. Therefore, grants in Iowa are awarded by the Kansas City Region VII ACYF office.
  • State:
    • HSSCO do not provide any oversight to the Head Start programs. The HSSCO is designed to facilitate partnerships between Head Start agencies and other state and local entities that provide services to benefit low-income children and their families. HSSCOs are awarded funds under the Head Start Act Sec. 642B Head Start Collaboration: State Early Education and Care.
    • Iowa Head Start Association’s mission is to enhance the capacity of its members to promote and advocate for a wide variety of quality services for all of Iowa’s children and families.
  • Local: There are currently 18 recipients crossing almost every county in the State of Iowa operating Head Start, Early Head Start, and/or EHS-CCP programming. (2021)
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History of Head Start State Collaboration Office

When was the Iowa HSSCO established?

Since 1990, the Head Start Bureau has funded HSSCO grants to create the capacity to support the development of multi-agency and public/private partnerships at the State level as part of the Head Start Act (Public Law 105-285; Section 640(a)(5)). The Iowa HSSCO was established through these funds in 1993, and placed in the Iowa Department of Education by the governor. Grants for the HSSCO are awarded as five-year projects and renewed annually currently at $125,000.

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Advisory Groups

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