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Why did the Federal Government establish Head Start State Collaboration Offices?

The Administration for Children & Families (ACF), through the Office of Head Start and its twelve regional offices, is responsible for directly funding Head Start programs throughout the United States. Because Head Start is one of a small number of programs funded directly by the Federal Government, its programs were seen as not well integrated into state programs and policies. Recognizing the important role of states in the development and implementation of enhanced program development, greater information exchange, and more comprehensive early childhood services, ACF developed a demonstration program to support the development of Head Start State Collaboration Offices.

In 1990, the first twelve states, including Maine, were funded to create visibility for Head Start at the state level and to develop partnerships with state and local funders of support services to low-income families and their children.  The program was expanded in 1992, 1996 and 1997, and now Collaboration Offices exist in all fifty states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.


Why is collaboration between Head Start and state programs important?

Nationally, the Office of Head Start administers over $6.6 billion serving over 900,000 low-income children. Head Start is mandated to provide comprehensive child-centered, family-focused, community-based programs designed to address the developmental needs of children, and support their parents in their work and child-caring roles. Head Start programs work closely with the providers of early childhood and family services funded by state and local sources in their communities. The Collaboration Office provides leadership at the state level to ensure the most effective use of resources and alignment with state’s efforts to provide the highest quality comprehensive services to the greatest number of young children and their families.


What is the Maine Head Start State Collaboration Office?

Since 1990, the Administration for Children & Families (ACF) has awarded Head Start collaboration grants to support the development of multi-agency and public and private partnerships at the state level to accomplish the following:

(1) Assist in building early childhood systems and access to comprehensive services and support for all low-income children; (2) Encourage widespread collaboration between Head Start and other appropriate programs, services, and initiatives; (3) Augment Head Start’s capacity to be a partner in state initiatives on behalf of children and their families; and (4) Facilitate the involvement of Head Start in state policies, plans, processes, and decisions affecting target populations and other low-income families.

Does the Maine Head Start State Collaboration Office administer the Head Start programs in Maine?

No. The Maine Head Start State Collaboration Office (MHSSCO) does not administer, oversee or monitor Head Start program activities in the state. It does not provide direct services to Head Start families or other low-income families; nor does it provide training and technical assistance (TA) to Head Start grantees in carrying out their program responsibilities. The MHSSCO does not supplant ongoing collaboration between ACF Regional Offices, Head Start grantees and other programs in the state.


What is the relationship between the Maine Head Start Directors’ Association and the Maine Head Start State Collaboration Office?

The State Head Start Directors’ Association plays an important role in supporting the MHSSCO in it’s goal of being a viable partner in state initiatives on behalf of low-income children and families. The Maine State Head Start Directors Association as the representative of Head Start Programs across the state and serves as a primary partner in many of the activities of the MHSSCO. Through their network of programs and staff, the Head Start Directors Association is able to identify emerging issues that can be addressed by the MHSSCO. The MHSSCO works closely with the Head Start community in the overall direction of the MHSSCO grant.

Note: FAQs adapted from New York State Head Start Collaboration Project