New Technical Assistance Resources from ACF
The Administration on Children and Families (ACF) administers Head Start, child care, home visiting and other programs designed to help children reach their full potential. Their key priority is to strengthen coordination between Head Start, child care and other early childhood services, recognizing that families have common needs and that programs often face similar issues and challenges.
To achieve these goals, ACF announced in October that they were launching a new cross-sector Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) System. The new Early Childhood T/TA system brings together funding, knowledge, and skills from the Office of Child Care (OCC), the Office of Head Start (OHS) and their health partners in the Department of Health and Human Services – the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Operating on national and regional levels, the federal early childhood training and technical assistance (T/TA) system will support high quality services for children and families. All entities will:
- Target services for children birth to age 5, and their families, with supports for expectant families and school-age children.
- Promote the provision of comprehensive services and school readiness with strategies that are age, developmentally, culturally and linguistically appropriate.
- Provide high-quality, evidenced-based, practical resources and approaches that build capacity and create sustainable early childhood practices at the regional, state, and local levels.
- Provide timely and relevant guidance, training, materials and professional development activities to account for different stakeholder needs and levels of readiness.
- Emphasize use of data for continuous quality improvement, coordination, and integration across the broader early childhood sector.
- Build upon previous evaluations and lessons learned from the Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care T/TA.
- Include evaluation of the quality of the assistance provided and the degree to which early care and education programs, staff, children and family’s needs are met.
The National Centers
ACF is awarding grants for six new national centers to build the capacity for excellence in early childhood services regardless of setting or funding stream. Training and technical assistance will be available to everyone who works in child care and Head Start, from state child care agency staff to Head Start program directors to providers caring for children in their homes. The national centers are:
- National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning (funded by OHS, and OCC).
- National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness (funded by OHS, OCC, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).
- National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance (funded by OCC, OHS, and MCHB).
- National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (funded by OHS and OCC).
- National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment (funded by OCC).
- National Center on Program Management, Fiscal, and Operations (funded by OHS).
The work of the National Centers will reach ACF grantees through enhanced networks of early childhood specialists that can work directly with States, Tribes, and Early Head Start and Head Start programs. ACF has also improved their existing networks by adding dedicated health specialists in Head Start and new infant and toddler specialists to help state child care agencies reach their youngest children.
The National Centers will work together to ensure a consistently high level of practice in areas that cut across all centers, such as culturally and linguistically responsive services; data use and continuous improvement; and supports for children with disabilities and their families. To support social, emotional, and behavioral health, the new National Centers will also partner with SAMHSA and HRSA on the National Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation.
For more information, please visit the HHS early childhood development technical assistance page.