The Office of Head Start
Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of education, health, nutrition, social and family support services to children and families. It is administered by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Grants are awarded directly to local public agencies, private non-profit and for-profit organizations, and Indian Tribes and school systems for the purpose of operating Head Start programs at the community level. Programs engage parents in their children’s learning and help them make progress toward their education, literacy and employment goals. Significant emphasis is placed on the involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start programs. Ann Linehan is the acting Director of the Office of Head Start.
Administration for Children and Families
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that is responsible for federal programs that promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities. ACF funds state, territory, local, and tribal organizations to provide family assistance (welfare), child support, child care, Head Start, and other programs for children and families. Actual services are provided by state, county, city and tribal governments, and public and private local agencies.
Boston Regional Office of the Administration for Children and Families
Regional offices represent ACF to state, county, city, and tribal governments, grantees, and public and private organizations and oversee the administration of the agency’s programs. ACF programs include: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Tribal TANF, Head Start, Child Support Enforcement, Foster Care, Child Welfare, Adoption Assistance, Child Care, Runaway and Homeless Youth and Developmental Disabilities. Massachusetts Head Start programs are part of Region 1 which also includes the other 5 New England states. Mary Ann Higgins is the ACF Administrator for Region I and Louise Eldridge is the Regional Program Manager for the Office of Head Start.
Zero to Three
ZERO TO THREE is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the healthy development of infants and toddlers. Zero to Three also operates the Early Head Start National Resource Center. It promotes the understanding of key issues affecting young children and their families including child care, infant mental health, early language and literacy development, early intervention and the impact of culture on early childhood development. The organization informs, trains and supports professionals, policymakers and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers by advancing current knowledge; promoting beneficial policies and practices; communicating research and best practices to a wide variety of audiences; and providing training, technical assistance and leadership development.
Early Head Start National Resource Center
The Early Head Start National Resource Center (EHS NRC) operated by Zero to Three was created by the Office of Head Start to promote the building of new knowledge and the sharing of information by:
- Linking and actively engaging the Early Head Start and the Head Start community through opportunities in coordination with the Office of Head Start’s Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center, to share resources and learn from one another in a variety of venues;
- Creating, collecting, and disseminating information relevant to comprehensive early childhood programs that is timely, accessible, and easy to use; and
- Providing professional development opportunities for the Early Head Start and Head Start community through face-to-face meetings and state-of-the-art distance learning experiences.
National Head Start Association
The National Head Start Association (NHSA) is a private not-for-profit membership organization dedicated exclusively to meeting the needs of Head Start children and their families. It represents more than 1 million children, 200,000 staff and 2,600 Head Start programs in the United States. The Association provides support for the entire Head Start community by advocating for policies that strengthen services to Head Start children and their families; by providing training and professional development to Head Start staff; and by developing and disseminating research, information, and resources that enrich Head Start program delivery.
Department of Early Education and Care
The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is a state agency within the Executive Office of Education that provides services for children in Massachusetts through a mixed-delivery system, which includes child care centers, out-of-school time programs, family child care homes, public preschool programs, private school preschool and kindergarten, and Head Start programs. EEC is responsible for licensing early education and care and out-of-school time programs throughout Massachusetts and for providing child care financial assistance to low-income families with children birth to 13 years of age. In addition, EEC provides support for information and referral services, inclusive programming for children with special needs, parenting and family support, and professional development opportunities for educators in the early education and out-of-school time fields. These efforts affect thousands of early education and out-of-school time providers, who serve more than 275,000 children each day. In its broadest role, EEC also serves as a source of information to the families of more than one million children in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Head Start State Collaboration Office is also located at EEC. Sherri Killins, Ed.D. is the Commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care.
Brain Building in Progress
This initiative is a public-private partnership of EEC and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, MHSA and other MA early childhood programs, academic researchers, business leaders and individuals. The latest science shows that stable and supportive relationships, language-rich environments, and engaging interactions with caring adults affect the architecture of young children’s maturing brains and provide a strong foundation for school success that create a brighter future for everyone in Massachusetts.