Health Service

Health Service Certification

On-Demand • Online • 40 PD Hours

This certification provides health service staff the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of the essential skills that support children’s health and wellbeing in a developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate manner.

Head Start programs partner with parents to provide high-quality health, oral health, mental health, and nutrition services that support each child’s growth and school readiness. NHSA’s Health Service Certification is designed to test Health staff’s skills in competency areas that align with Head Start’s mission and the expectations of the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS).

To earn this certification, candidates will be required to complete a portfolio demonstrating their understanding of twelve essential competencies. For a full list, download the syllabus. For each competency, candidates will be asked to provide written responses that detail the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to fulfill health services objectives in Head Start. To see one example of an activity you will find within a competency, please download the syllabus.

The portfolio will take approximately 40 hours to assemble and is a great asset to the candidate’s transcript. Upon completion, the portfolio will be scored by an NHSA-assigned reviewer (noted below) to evaluate the candidate’s knowledge and skills related to the HSPPS for health service. The review process can take up to two months.

Candidates who successfully earn the credential will be recognized at NHSA’s National Head Start Conference. To make this experience meaningful to the whole program, NHSA recommends that programs assign a mentor to help guide candidates through the process. View our Mentor’s Guide to Supporting Certification Candidates to learn more. Please note supervisors will be required to sign off on the final portfolio.

Start Date:


Course Level:



  • Health Services Essentials is highly recommended before taking this certification program. Head Start Basics is also suggested. It provides a good overview of how to interact with the HSPPS and a module on health services.
  • While no specific experience is required, a minimum of 6 months in your position is strongly recommended. The certification does not include instruction.

Target Audience: 

Support Services

Meeting Times: 

Coaching is provided on weekly basis through live Q&A sessions with an assigned reviewer

Completion Timeline/Duration: 

Four months for portfolio completion and two months for review and final grade

Head Start Alignment:

This course supports programs in meeting the 1302 Subpart D—Health Program Services of the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) in which programs must “provide high-quality health, oral health, mental health, and nutrition services that are developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and that will support each child’s growth and school readiness.”

Registration Rates

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Download the Syllabus 


Online, Self-Paced Content
Live Coaching from Facilitator
Access to a National Cohort of Peers

40 Hours of Course Material

4 Months of Access to Course

Video Content
Discussion Forums
Digital Badge
Certificate of Completion with PD Hours
24/7 Access to Transcript


Jackie Rivera

Jackie Rivera

Jackie has been a Health Administrator at a Head Start in central Missouri for over 10 years and is a Certified Community Action Professional. Before becoming a nurse, Jackie spent 10 years as an early childhood education teacher. Jackie oversees health and safety at her agency and is project manager for the agency's Childhood Obesity and Diabetes Prevention Project and Women and Infant Relief Program. Jackie is a Licensed Practical Nurse, Child Development Associate, and Lactation Counselor. Jackie is certified to train in many topics, such as Compassion Fatigue, CPR/First Aid Motivational Interviewing, I Am Moving, I Am Learning, Family Wellness, Infant Massage, Mind in The Making, and Experiential Facilitation. Jackie has had the honor of being named for a National Child Plus Community Service Award and received MOCAN Healthcare Profession Award.

Course Author



With nearly 50 years of experience, research, and advocacy work, The Academy Team at NHSA has used the highest standards to create this course to support the professional growth and development of Head Start and Early Head Start staff and leadership across the country.

What learners are saying...

"If you want to learn more about the agency that you work for, then you should take advantage of the Health Service Certification. You will learn more about the reasonings for policy and procedures." - Afrikina Dotson, Tri-County Community Action, Inc

"There's a lot of information to learn. It's a great refresher course or if you're just making yourself familiar with Head Start." - Jeanette Waidner, Norwescap

"I learned a lot from this experience. Only being the Health, Family Nutrition, and Mental Health specialist for six months made this course more challenging for me, but it encouraged me to research and learn how LKLP Head Start applies certain things and why we have certain things in place. I was able to gain knowledge to better perform my job. I can say I know more about the standards now than I ever have since working with Head Start for the last 13 years. Seeing it from a specialist position is much different than seeing it from a teacher's perspective." - Tia Russell, LKLP Community Action Council

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