The Head Start State Collaboration Office (HSSCO) is a federal-state partnership funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Head Start as the state point of contact for Head Start and collaboration to assist in building early childhood systems and access to comprehensive services for all low income children. The Illinois HSSCO:

  • Encourages widespread collaboration between Head Start and other appropriate programs, services and initiatives.
  • Augments Head Start's capacity to be a partner in State initiatives on behalf of children and families; and
  • Facilitates Head Start's involvement in state policies, plans, processes, and decisions affecting the Head Start target population.

The HSSCO accomplishes these purposes by working with Head Start, state, federal and community stakeholders in the eight federal priority areas of child care, education, health, welfare, community services, disabilities, homeless services, and family literacy. The HSSCO provides education about Head Start, supplies resources and information to support state and local partnerships, and facilitates the development of statewide agreements.


Child Care Collaboration Program. The DHS Child Care Collaboration Program was rolled out statewide in the fall of 2003. Its purpose is to facilitate collaboration between child care and other early childhood programs. Providers that collaborate with child care/Pre-School for All (PFA), child care/Head Start or all three services offered at one location applied to the HSSCO. The intent of the DHS Child Care Collaboration Program is to foster integrated services for children and families by bridging some of the differences between Head Start/State Pre-K and child care policy and regulation. Providers are approved in this program by demonstrating the quality their collaboration model contributes to their programming through an application process to DHS.

Governor's OECD; Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge (RTT/ELC). In 2013, IL received RTT/ELC funding to move its early childhood system work forward. The HSSCO is deeply embedded in that work through: the Early Learning Council and Committees; ExceleRate IL (QRIS); the Head Start Data Project (led by the Illinois Head Start Association (IHSA); and other quality projects.

IL Early Childhood Collaboration Webs Site. The HSSCO maintains the IL Early Childhood Collaboration Web Site (www.ilearlychildhoodcollab.org) as part of its work with the Child Care Advisory Counsel. Following the CCDF reauthorization, HSSCO participated on the Planning and Implementation Committee (PIC) Task Force which was formed to support DHS with writing the state plan.

Child Welfare/Head Start Statewide Joint Agreement. Begun as a collaboration among DCFS, IHSA, ACF, and the HSSCO, this agreement delineates areas of collaboration at both the state and local levels to ensure DCFS children are served in Early/Head Start. The HSSCO Director facilitates the development, signing and distribution processes of the Agreement and works with the DCFS School Readiness Team Administrator to facilitate quarterly regional cross training meetings, provide state level leadership and support to the local groups, and ensure implementation of the electronic file transfer from DCFS to local grantees. The current intergovernmental agreement is effective through FY19.

Memorandum of Agreement for Services to Children with Disabilities. Mandated by Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the HSSCO facilitated the writing, revising and signing processes of this Agreement originally with a statewide Work Group that included DHS (Child Care, Early Intervention, MSHS, and HSSCO), IHSA, ISBE (early childhood block grants and special education), and ACF. It has been revised every year or two electronically by all partners and as of 2014, was at the Region 5 Office of Head Start for review/edits prior to re-signing. HSSCO attempted to engage in a new review process however, this effort has been put on hold until the piloting of localized MOUs to meet the requirements in the QRIS has been completed.

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