Head Start Collaboration

Head Start Collaboration - children hugging each other -copyright-iStockphoto.com/comptine © iStockphoto.com/comptine

Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS) helps agencies in the U.S. strengthen their capacity to serve refugee and immigrant children, youth and families. To improve access to Head Start services for newly arrived refugee children and families, BRYCS has teamed with the Office of Head Start (OHS) National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness (NCCLR), a national training and technical assistance center, run by Bank Street College of Education and the Education Development Center. BRYCS and the NCCLR are promoting collaboration between local refugee resettlement and Head Start programs. Read about this collaboration in the BRYCS Brief “Giving Young Refugee Children a Head Start.”

Virtually all refugee parents with children up to age 5 will meet the income-based eligibility requirements for Head Start services when they first arrive in the U.S. Linking newly resettled refugees with local Head Start programs can provide many benefits for both the Head Start program and for refugee families. Advantages in collaboration reported by refugee resettlement agencies include:

  • Ready access to center-based early childhood development services, enabling refugee parents to go to work more quickly after arrival in the U.S.;
  • Comprehensive assessments and services for the whole family, including education, nutrition, and health/mental health care; and
  • Head Start’s active engagement of refugee families as partners in their children's early learning and development.

Young children have a greater chance of achieving academic success when they have access to the early childhood education and development services provided by Head Start programs. Since Head Start emphasizes responsiveness to the growing culturally and linguistically diverse communities across the country, the benefits of a partnership between refugee resettlement and Head Start agencies are clear.

BRYCS and the NCCLR have developed a broad range of materials and providing technical assistance geared towards refugees, refugee service providers, and Head Start programs. Resources include a new illustrated parenting handbook, “Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development,” and a “collaboration toolkit” with tools and resources to support resettlement and Head Start agencies working together. 

Refugee Resettlement-Head Start Collaboration Toolkit

Raising Young Children in a New Country: Supporting Early Learning and Healthy Development This handbook provides families with information on six themes: family well-being, health and safety, healthy brain development, early learning and school readiness, guidance and discipline, and family engagement in early care and education. Programs serving refugee families, newly arrived immigrant families, and others may use this resource with parents to help ease their transition to a new country. (Available in in Arabic & Spanish).  

Highlighted Resources on Early Childhood

In addition, BRYCS has compiled the following "Highlighted Resource Lists" on early childhood development and learning topics relevant to programs serving refugees:

  1. Child Development and Health
  2. Early Learning and Pre-Literacy Activities
  3. Books for Refugee/Immigrant Children 0-5 Years
  4. School Transition
  5. Giving Young Refugee Children a Head Start

BRYCS Publications:

To see any of the BRYCS-authored resources on early childhood, visit the early childhood section of the publications page

Head Start has served low-income children, ages 3 to 5, since 1965, with the goal of literally giving them a“head start” in school by providing early and comprehensive services, including education, nutrition, and dental, health and mental health care. Early Head Start, established in 1995, serves pregnant women and children up to 3 years of age, so that all low-income children prenatal through 5 years of age are covered during these critical developmental years. In addition to serving children, Head Start considers family engagement a priority. Parents are involved in a variety of roles: in their children’s learning, as volunteers and program staff, and as advisors in program policy. Head Start also supports parents in pursuing their own educational, literacy, and employment goals.  For more information and resources on Head Start, visit the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center. For Head Start service providers who are interested in learning about refugees and refugee resettlement, visit BRYCS’ About Refugees.