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States and territories have increasingly worked to strengthen their early care and education (ECE) systems to more efficiently and effectively serve young children. It can still be challenging, however, to coordinate ECE systems’ multifaceted funding streams, services, standards, and regulations. State and federal ECE systems provide a variety of direct services, including ECE in centers and family child care homes; state-funded pre-kindergarten; early intervention and early childhood special education; and Head Start, Early Head Start, Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, and Tribal Head Start. This report focuses on one of these direct services, Head Start/Early Head Start, and its relationship to state and territory ECE systems.
The intent of the report is to provide a concise synthesis of existing data on the connection between Head Start and other parts of the early care and education (ECE) system. The report summarizes a variety of ways in which Head Start and state or territory ECE systems engage in coordination including: governance, enrollment, spending, quality improvement, state pre-K, child care subsidy policies, and integrated data systems. The report also addresses ways in which future research could help the field better understand these connections between Head Start and state or territory ECE systems.
Key Findings and Highlights
- The relationship between Head Start and other facets of ECE systems varies widely across states and territories. Analysis indicates that the ways in which Head Start connects with other ECE programs or policies varies by state or territory and that different forms of collaboration or coordination are more prevalent in some states and territories than others. Head Start participation in QRIS and coordination with CCDF are two of the most common forms of collaboration in states and territories: Head Start programs participate in QRIS in 93 percent of states and territories that report data to the Quality Compendium. Half of states or territories have formal partnerships between state pre-K and Head Start. In some states and territories, state funds are reported as part of non-federal share matches to support Head Start grantees.
- Collaboration is a long-term effort. As noted earlier in the report, there is increased interest in strengthening alignment, coordination, and collaboration across the various components of the ECE system, including Head Start. Collaboration across agencies, services, and funding streams is complex and will take time. Future PIR and other data can inform collaboration efforts among Head Start and the various aspects of state and territory ECE systems.
- Further research is needed to understand how and why Head Start is connected with state and territory ECE systems. This report provides an important initial picture of the connections between Head Start and other facets of state and territory ECE systems. However, the report does not explain why certain policies or practices are in place or how Head Start and other facets of the ECE system connect or coordinate with one another. Similarly, we are not able to draw conclusions from these data about how well Head Start is integrated into state and territory ECE systems. Because available data used in this report tell part, but not all, of the story, further research into these areas would benefit states and territories as well as federal agencies.
The report synthesized data from publicly available reports and datasets that address Head Start and state/territory ECE connections.
Maxwell, K., Warner-Richter, M., Partika, A., Franchett, A., & Kane, M. (2019). The Connection between Head Start and State or Territory Early Care and Education Systems: A Scan of Existing Data. OPRE Report # 2019. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- early childhood integrated data systems
- Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships
- Early Learning and Development Standards
- Head Start Collaboration Office
- Head Start Program Performance Standards
- Kindergarten Entrance Assessment
- local education agencies
- Head Start Program Information Report
- quality rating and improvement system
- Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems