The Office of Head Start (OHS) Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) system supports program staff in their delivery of quality services to children and families. The current system consists of three levels of T/TA: national, regional, and grantee. While each level has distinct and unique functions, they are designed to complement each other. Structured, intentional, high-quality T/TA best supports the school readiness of all children and families.
The Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care are collaborating to more effectively provide training and technical assistance (T/TA) across early care and education programs. This joint T/TA system will support early care and education (ECE) programs and early educators in delivering quality services to children and their families across the country.
Leading the delivery of T/TA at the national level are nine centers:
- The National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations
- The National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning
- The National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement
- The National Center on Health and Wellness
- The National Center on Early Head Start - Child Care Partnerships
- The National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance
- The National Center on Tribal Child Care Implementation & Innovation
- The National Center on Child Care Subsidy Innovation & Accountability
The National Centers function as a team that provides Head Start grantees with consistent information from OHS across all service areas. Each Center has an area of focus and is staffed by experts who have extensive experience with Head Start programs and with the development of effective interventions that make a difference in the lives of young children and their families. Tasks that are common to all centers include:
- Communicating “best practices” and providing content-rich, practical resources and information that are effective in a varietyof real-world settings to grantees, early education partners, and T/TA specialists
- Providing training at regional and national meetings and institutes
- Supporting the development of the Regional T/TA specialists
- Communicating with local programs through email, toll-free numbers, and other forms of technology
Regional T/TA network
There are four categories of Regional T/TA specialists: early childhood specialists; grantee specialists; health specialists; and systems specialists. Most T/TA specialists, at the direction of the Regional Office, provide on-site training and technical assistance to grantees and are also available to provide training to clusters of grantees with similar interests or concerns or at state and regional events.
The work of early childhood (EC) specialists, both those who are infant/toddler specialists and those who are preschool specialists, falls into four large categories: school readiness; parent and family engagement; professional development for grantee staff; and collaboration at the state level. Every Head Start and Early Head Start grantee has access to an EC specialist.
Grantee specialists (GSs) are deployed by the Regional Offices to work with specific grantees. The first priority for their work are grantees that have findings identified through federal monitoring reviews. However, they may also be assigned to work with grantees with concerns arising from Program Information Reports (PIRs), audit findings, or other data reviewed by OHS. As determined by the Regional Office, and time and resources permitting, GSs may also conduct training sessions or provide technical assistance for individual grantees or groups of grantees that do not have an identified concern but that wish to improve the quality of their program's systems.
Each region also has at least one health specialist. The health specialist serves as a link between the region and the National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness (NCECHW). In that capacity, the health specialist helps in disseminate evidence based materials and resources from NCECHW to Regional Office staff, T/TA specialists, and local grantees. As the direction of the Regional Office, the health specialist also provides training and technical assistance to individual grantees or groups of grantees.
The systems specialist works closely with other designated OCC T/TA staff, as well as with others such as the state collaboration directors. The primary responsibility of this specialist is to participate on a regional team to identify cross-system coordination opportunities between OHS and OCC. As time permits, they may be available to work directly with grantees or with groups of grantees.
Local or Individual T/TA
Grantees are an essential component of the T/TA System because they get at least 50 percent of all Head Start T/TA dollars. Grantees use these funds in accordance with their training plans to support the needs identified by and specific to their local program. These activities include, but are not limited to, expanding staff qualifications; improving the skills teachers need in order to promote language and emergent literacy skills; improving management systems and learning environments; designing and implementing programs that help parents enhance the language and literacy skills of their own children at home; and other uses identified by and specific to each individual grantee.
As grantees develop their own training plans, they are encouraged to take time to review what is available at no cost from the National Centers, from their Regional T/TA specialists, or from others in their state and local community. In that way, a grantee's own T/TA dollars can supplement rather than duplicate T/TA services that are already available.