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Your guide to Head Start terms and acronyms.

Accreditation. A process that validates and acknowledges quality early childhood programs. It involves the early childhood program in a self-study to systematically evaluate their processes, activities and achievements and identify areas in need of improvement, in comparison with professional standards. 


ACF. Administration for Children and Families.  The branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that administers Head Start and other programs concerned with children and families.


ADA.  Americans with Disabilities Act.  The ADA, Public Law 101-336, was signed on July 26, 1990 to provide comprehensive civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, public accommodations, state and local government services, and telecommunications.  This landmark civil rights legislation extends the requirements to Section 504 to all programs and provides a national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.


Ad Hoc Committee.  A committee established for a specific amount of time to accomplish a specific task. 


Advisory Committee.  Any group which serves an advisory rather than a policy-making or decision-making role.


Age eligibility. A child must be at least three years old by the date used to determine eligibility for public school in the community for Head Start. Early Head Start serves infants and toddlers up to age three.


AIAN.  American Indian-Alaska Native.  This program branch provides American Indian and Alaska Native children and families nationally with comprehensive health, educational, nutritional,socialization and other developmental services promoting school readiness.


Assessment.  The ongoing process of observation and recording initiated by teachers that provides information about children's development (social, emotional, cognitive, fine and gross motor abilities, speech and language), identifying children's specific strengths and needs. The results of classroom assessment provide the basis for individualizing the curriculum for children. 


Audit. A process that determines whether the agency's financial operations manage itself in compliance with laws and regulations regarding expenditures of funds, accurately produce financial statements representing the agency's financial position, and establish and implement internal procedures for managing and reporting on expenditure of funds. 


By-laws. The common rules agreed upon by an organization under which it operates. By-laws are used by Head Start policy groups, such as the Policy Council and Governing Body. 


CCDBG.  Child Care and Development Block Grant.  A federal child care act passed by Congress in 1990 authorizing ACF to fund states to provide child care services and activities to improve the availability and quality of child care.


CACFP. Child and Adult Care Food Program.  CACFP partially reimburses the program for nutritious meals served to children in attendance in the program.  Also see USDA definition. 


CAP.  Community Action Program.  An organization either public or private which is funded by the Community Services Block Grant to administer and coordinate on a community wide basis, a variety of anti-poverty programs which often includes Head Start.


CDA.  Child Development Associate.  An early childhood educator who has demonstrated skills in working with young children and their families by successfully completing a formal credentialing process.


COLA.  Cost of Living Allotment.  This money is requested annually.


CB.  Center-Based.  A Head Start program option that serves the child in a center four/five days per week.  Center-Based requires class size of 17 to 20 four-year olds with some 3 year olds also enrolled per class, class operations of 3.5 to 6 hours per day with 4 hours being optimal, a minimum of 128 days of classroom operations for programs serving children 4 days per week, and a minimum of 160 days of operation for children enrolled 5 days per week.  All center-based programs must have a minimum of 32 weeks of class operation over an eight or nine month period.


Child Outcomes Framework.  The 1998 reauthorization of Head Start by Congress required programs to demonstrate that children make progress on specific learning outcomes. To ensure that practices reflect the most current research about child development the Office of Head Start (formerly Head Start Bureau) developed the Child Outcomes Framework. The Framework incorporates the legislatively mandated outcomes as long-term goals referred to as mains, which includes eight unique domains. 


Combination Option.  A Head Start program model that provides children and families with an experience that they would receive in both a center-based and home-based option by providing a minimum of 32-96 days per program year (2-3 days per week) of classroom center-based experiences for children and eight-24 home visits per year (1-2 visits per month).


Community Assessment.  A profile of the community or communities in which the Head Start and Early Head Start program operates. This profile includes data on the characteristics of the communities' population, resources, assets and needs. The CA provides essential data for ongoing program design and planning (45 CFR 1305.3(c-e)). 


Comprehensive Early Childhood Development Program.  This term is often associated with a Head Start program as it provides a wide variety of services to children beyond the educational component of preschool.  In a Head Start program this includes health services, social services, nutritional services, services to children with disabilities as well as educational services and a strong emphasis on parent involvement.


DAP.  Developmentally Appropriate Practice.  A concept of classroom practices which reflect knowledge of typical development for the ages being served and an understanding of the unique personality, learning style, and family background of each child.  Defined by NAEYC in their book Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Child hood Programs, these practices are consistent with Head Start Performance Standards.


Deficiency.  A systemic or substantial material failure of an agency in an area of performance.


Delegate Agency.  An agency to which responsibility is delegated by the Head Start grantee for the operation of a total, or a significant portion, of the Head Start/Early Head Start program. 


Early Head Start.  Established by the Head Start Act as amended May, 1994, this new program serves families with children pre-birth to three years old within the framework of Head Start.


Federal Program Monitoring Report. The findings reported from the onsite Head Start program monitoring conducted by a federally led monitoring team every three years. The process for federal review is the OHS Monitoring Protocol. The monitoring report should be received by the program reviewed within a reasonable time frame after the federal review. If any program deficiencies are identified, programs must respond promptly with a program quality improvement plan (QIP). 


Federally Funded.   A term typically used when referring to a program that receives their operating funds through acts of the Congress.


Federal Register.  The federal publication that informs the public about proposed and final regulations, funding availability, program announcements, and other policies issued by OMB, HHS, ACF, and other federal agencies. It can be searched electronically at Final regulations published are included in the annual revisions to the Code of Federal Regulations.FY. Fiscal Year.  The 12-month period for which funds are allocated. The funding year is October 1 to September 30 for federal agencies. State and local FYs will vary.


Grantee.  A public or private agency which receives funds directly from ACF to operate a Head Start program.  Tri-County CAP is Tri-County Head Start’s grantee.


HB.  Home-Based.  A program model that focuses on parents as educators and includes a minimum of 32 weekly home visits per year lasting for a minimum of 1.5 hours per visit by an assigned Home Visitor and a minimum of two monthly Socialization Day experiences (16) per year for both children and families.


Head Start Program Performance Standards.  These Federal Head Start regulations sets forth agency programmatic functions, activities, and facilities required and necessary to meet the objectives and goals of the Head Start and/or Early Head Start program as they relate to children and their families.


HSSCO. Head Start-State Collaboration Offices.  ACF grants awarded to each state in the country for the purpose of collaborating and forging collaborative Head Start-state relationships to benefit children and their families. 

IEP.  Individual Education Plan.  An individualized plan for providing services to children with special needs.

IDA.  Individuals with a Disability Act, P.L. 102-119.  This act extends the rights, definitions, and requirements of P.L. 94-142 and its amendments, P.L. 99-457 to include preschool children.  States and jurisdictions have put a in place policies to ensure that all eligible children with disabilities, ages three to five, will receive, free appropriate, public education under IDEA.


IHCP.  Individual Health Care Plan.  An individual plan developed for a child with special health care needs that outline specific health requirements for appropriate staff knowledge.


IM. Information Memorandum.  A document by which the federal government provides grantees with general information other than a proposed regulation or policy.


In-Kind.  A contribution of property, supplies, or services which benefit Head Start and which are contributed by non-federal third parties without charge to the program.  May be included in the non-federal match requirement.


Interagency Agreements.  Agreements signed between agencies at the national, state, or local level to promote additional services to Head Start.  LEA.  Local Education Agency.  The public education (school) entity or its designee for the city, town, or county, etc.


Monitoring (On- Site Program Review).  A federal on-site monitoring conducted by a regional team of consultants led by a regional ACF program specialist that determines Head Start program compliance with Head Start federal policies and standard.  This review provides a key perspective on a program’s management and organizational capacities.


NAEYC.  National Association for the Education of Young Children.  A membership-supported organization committed to fostering the growth and development of children from birth through age 8 which provides its members with services and resources to work with young children.


NEHSA.  New England Head Start Association. Region I’s Head Start advocacy group representing New England programs. An elected director and parent from each New England state comprise the board of NEHSA. 


NHSA.  National Head Start Association.  A membership-supported organization comprised of Head Start staff, parents, directors, and friends that advocates for Head Start programs, offers a system of networking, and provides statistical and technical assistance to programs.


Non-Federal Share. Resources which the grantee is required to generate, cash or in-kind which benefit Head Start/Early Head Start and which are contributed by non-federal sources without charge to the program. Twenty percent of the Head Start grant award must be a non-federal match.


Office of Head Start/Head Start Bureau.  Division of the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that administers the Head Start program.  The Bureau develops and enforces regulations based on the Head Start Act and related legislation.

PC.  Policy Council.  A federally mandated policy making body that is elected at the grantee level.  At least 51% of the members must be parents of Head Start children currently enrolled in the grantee Head Start program.  It may also include representatives of the community.


Performance Standards.  These federal Head Start regulations, the Program Performance Standards for Operation of Head Start Programs by Grantees and Delegate Agencies, set forth agency programmatic functions, activities, and facilities required and necessary to meet the objectives and goals of the Head Start program as they relate to children and their families.


PIR.  Program Information Report.  The triplicate form that provides quantitative information on key characteristics of each Head Start program to ACF; in the spring of each year every Head Start grantee is required to complete and submit a PIR to their regional and national office.


Program Specialist.  Federal staff of the regional office of the Administration for Children and Families who provide help and assistance to the local Head Start program. 


QUIP.  Quality Improvement Plan.  The document developed by the grantee to respond to the non-compliance issues identified by the federal program on-site review.


Region I.  With its office located in Boston, this regional governing body oversees Health and Human Service agencies within the Administration for Children and Families in all six New England states.


Self-Assessment.  The process whereby the staff and parents assess the local Head Start program in relation to the Head Start Performance Standards and other federal requirements. 


SNAP.  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  As of October 1, 2008 this is the new name for the federal food stamp program.  SNAP helps low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health. You apply for benefits by completing a State application form. Benefits are provided on an electronic card that is used like an ATM card and accepted at most grocery stores.


T/TA.  Training and Technical Assistance.  An event or activity designed to improve or enhance the skills and development of program staff constitutes training.  Technical assistance is a problem-solving event that utilizes the services of an experienced consultant.


TANF.  Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.  The federal workfare program that replaced AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) in assisting families in reaching self-dependence by providing temporary financial assistance and job training and counseling. 


Title XX.  A federal to state child care subsidy available to families whose incomes are at such a level that they qualify. 


USDA.  United States Department of Agriculture.  A state program known as the Child Care Food Program, is funded by USDA and provides financial reimbursement and/or commodities for providing breakfast, lunch, and snacks which meet federal nutritional requirements to income eligible children.


WIC.  Women Infants and Children.  A federal nutrition program aimed at providing supplemental food vouchers to low income pregnant women and their children.


Wraparound care.  This term refers to a child care option that provides for childcare for an extended amount of time before and after the typical Head Start day. 

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