Head Start Connects: Individualizing and Connecting Families to Comprehensive Family Support Services, 2018 - 2023

Project Overview

Project Overview

Since its origins, Head Start has emphasized delivering comprehensive services that align with children and families’ diverse strengths and needs. A strength of Head Start’s approach has been its dual focus on offering comprehensive services that support both children and their families to improve child development in the long-term: coupling early care and education, nutrition, health, and social supports for children with parenting, self-sufficiency, health/mental health, and leadership services for parents. However, despite significant knowledge of which services Head Start programs offer to families, little is known about how programs coordinate the provision of these services.

The Head Start Connects project aims to generate knowledge about the processes through which Head Start programs coordinate the provision of family support services that are responsive to families’ specific needs. Coordination encompasses many processes, including:

  • assessing the needs of communities and families
  • establishing partnerships with service providers
  • building in-house capacity for service provision
  • linking families to appropriate services and providers based on identified needs
  • tracking service uptake
  • continually assessing the responsiveness of the provided services
  • reassessing outstanding service needs

Under this contract, MDRC and its partners - the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago (NORC) and MEF Associates – will conduct a literature review, develop of a theory of change model, consult with experts, and design and possibly execute a small set of case studies and a large-scale descriptive study on the processes related to coordinating and tailoring family support services in Head Start.

The points of contact are Amanda Coleman (Amanda.Coleman@acf.hhs.gov) and Sarah Blankenship (Sarah.Blankenship@acf.hhs.gov).