By Dr. Blanca Enriquez, Director, Office of Head Start
When I was Executive Director of a large Head Start program, not so long ago, I worked around the clock to ensure it was the strongest it could be, and I know that Head Start programs across the country do the same. I am bringing that passionate commitment to my new role as the head of the Office of Head Start. I am excited to announce that today we unveiled proposed revisions to the Head Start Program Performance Standards (Standards) in a Federal Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM).
As a former program director, I understand the important role the Standards play. They are both the foundation and the compass of the program. I also know from experience the ways in which outdated, prescriptive, and disconnected standards can distract program leaders from focusing on what really matters to deliver a high quality early learning program. The proposed Standards both strengthen program services and reduce administrative burden so that Head Start programs can focus on what’s important—providing the highest quality services to improve outcomes for young children and families, and supporting the staff that serve them.
I hope you will take time to read these proposed Standards, and to comment on both the parts you agree with and the parts you disagree with. We take each comment seriously. This is your opportunity to influence the future of Head Start and ensure the voice of your community is heard. We are seeking diverse perspectives. We will accept comments between June 19 and August 18, 2015. Our team at the Office of Head Start will then consider all public comments before publishing a final rule.
The Standards reference a new Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (Framework) also released today, which outlines key areas of learning for children from birth to age 5. It offers information to guide effective teaching practices and high quality learning experiences that promote school readiness and strong positive child outcomes. We encourage you to read the new Framework, as well as the Getting Started Guide. While the Framework is not part of the request for public comment, we do welcome comments about its integration throughout the Education subpart of the proposed Standards.
We will be hosting several webinars over the next few weeks to discuss the proposed Standards, the new Framework, and answer the questions we know you will have. You can also visit the NPRM page on the ECLKC website Visit disclaimer page for more information.
The face of Head Start is seen in every single Head Start grantee and the children and families engaged in Head Start. One of the founding principles of Head Start is that the key to our success lies in the strong bonds between programs, communities, and families. To that end, leadership does not lie solely in the hands of the Office of Head Start, so much as in the hands of every parent, teacher, director, governing body, and community member doing the work to help Head Start children succeed. We at OHS are working hard to ensure all grantees have the supports needed to be recognized by your community as the best place for children to learn, grow and flourish.