New Head Start project bridges gap between early education and public school

The Office of Head Start (OHS) at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families will bring together leaders from school districts and Head Start programs from across the country on June 24 and 25 to address the need for better coordination between Head Start and K-12 education. Comprehensive early childhood education like Head Start programs can prepare children for kindergarten, but children’s continued success requires the support of teachers and leaders in their next school environment.

“Head Start programs and the elementary schools our children will go to should work together to sustain the gains children have made. I believe the folks who show up daily to run Head Start programs can directly impact how children are prepared for life beyond Head Start—most typically, public school kindergarten,” said Dr. Deborah Bergeron, director of OHS.

Dr. Bergeron, informed by her work as a former public school principal, identified improved collaboration between Head Start programs and their receiving elementary schools as a critical pathway to better child outcomes.

“My hope is by raising awareness around this essential standard, sharing Head Start success stories, and following up with support that will enhance programming, together we can ensure our most vulnerable children arrive in kindergarten presenting exemplary school readiness skills and receive the support they need in kindergarten to continue to be successful,” added Dr. Bergeron.

Twelve school system teams will work with colleagues from their local Head Start programs to establish an action plan to implement in the 2019 -2020 school year. The teams will be from school districts in Woonsocket R.I., Allentown Pa., Hillsborough Fla., Bemidji Minn., Eastern Upper Peninsula Mich., Gallia Ohio, New Braunfels and Canutillo Texas, Garden City Kan., Los Angeles County Calif., West Valley Wash., and Anchorage, Alaska.

The outcomes of these collaborations will also inform national policy, technical implementation, and professional development. The teams will reconvene in the spring of 2020 to report on their efforts.

Quick Facts

  • Comprehensive early childhood education like Head Start programs can prepare children for kindergarten, but children’s continued success requires the support of teachers and leaders in their next school environment.
  • Twelve school system teams will work with colleagues from their local Head Start programs to establish an action plan to implement in the 2019-2020 school year.
  • The teams will be from school districts in Woonsocket RI, Allentown PA., Hillsborough FL, Bemidji MN, Eastern Upper Peninsula MI, Gallia OH, New Braunfels & Canutillo TX, Garden City KS, Los Angeles County CA, West Valley WA, Anchorage, AL
  • The teams will reconvene in the spring of 2020 to report on their efforts.

Quotes

“Head Start programs and the elementary schools our children will go to should work together to sustain the gains children have made. I believe the folks who show up daily to run Head Start programs can directly impact how children are prepared for life beyond Head Start—most typically, public school kindergarten."
Dr. Deborah Bergeron, director of OHS.
“My hope is by raising awareness around this essential standard, sharing Head Start success stories, and following up with support that will enhance programming, together we can ensure our most vulnerable children arrive in kindergarten presenting exemplary school readiness skills and receive the support they need in kindergarten to continue to be successful."
Dr. Deborah Bergeron, director of OHS.
Last Reviewed: June 25, 2019
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