The Office of Head Start (OHS) Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) system supports program staff in delivering quality services to children and families. The TTA system consists of three levels: national, regional, and grantee. While each level has distinct and unique functions, they are designed to complement each other. Structured, intentional, high-quality TTA supports the school readiness of children and their families.
The Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) OHS and Office of Child Care (OCC) collaborate to effectively provide TTA across early care and education programs. This joint TTA system supports early childhood education (ECE) programs and educators in delivering quality services to children and their families across the country.
Leading the delivery of TTA at the national level are four centers:
- National Center on Program Management and Fiscal Operations (NCPMFO) Visit disclaimer page
- National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning (NCECDTL) Visit disclaimer page
- National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (NCPFCE) Visit disclaimer page
- National Center on Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety (NCHBHS) Visit disclaimer page
The National Centers function as a team to provide 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 variety of real-world settings to grantees, ECE partners, and TTA specialists
- Providing training at regional and national meetings and institutes
- Supporting the development of the regional TTA specialists
- Communicating with local programs through email, toll-free numbers, and other forms of technology
Regional TTA network
The 12 OHS Regional Offices work with four categories of regional TTA specialists: early childhood, grantee, health, and systems. Most TTA specialists, at the direction of a Regional Office, provide on-site TTA to individual grantees, to clusters of grantees with similar interests, and at state and regional events.
Early childhood specialists include infant/toddler and preschool specialists. Their work 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 early childhood specialist.
Grantee specialists are deployed by Regional Offices to work with specific grantees. The first priority is grantees with findings identified through federal monitoring reviews. However, they may also be assigned to work with grantees based on Program Information Reports (PIR), audit findings, or other data reviewed by OHS. As determined by the Regional Office, and time and resources permitting, grantee specialists may also conduct training sessions or provide TA for individual grantees or groups of grantees that do not have an identified concern but 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 NCHBHS. In that capacity, the health specialist helps disseminate evidence-based materials and resources to Regional Office staff, TTA specialists, and local grantees. At the direction of the Regional Office, the health specialist also provides TTA to individual grantees or groups of grantees.
The systems specialist works closely with other designated OCC TTA staff, as well as with Head Start State Collaboration directors and others. 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 work directly with grantees or with groups of grantees.
Local Grantee T/TA
Local grantees receive at least 50% of all Head Start TTA dollars. Grantees use these funds in accordance with their training plans to address needs that are specific to their local program. Examples include expanding teachers' qualifications, working with families after a community disaster, improving management systems and learning environments and helping parents support their child's literacy skills at home.
As grantees plan, they are encouraged to review services that are available at no cost from the National Centers, regional TTA specialists, and other experts in their state and local communities. That way, a grantee's TTA dollars go further to leverage and supplement existing TTA services.