ANAHEIM, CA, April 24 – The Head Start “Workforce Catalyst” concluded today with individual commitments from Head Start practitioners and their partners to implement the ideas they developed at the summit to strengthen the workforce of the nation’s largest early childhood development program. The National Head Start Association (NHSA) convened the two-day Workforce Catalyst as a pre-summit leading into the 45th Annual National Head Start Conference in Anaheim, California, which begins Wednesday.
“The challenges facing Head Start’s workforce are daunting, but focused efforts like the Workforce Catalyst are going to move the needle,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “As a Head Start community, we must continue chipping away at the challenges we can solve, without getting bogged down by the systemic issues that we are concurrently working to address.”
Vinci continued, “We are going to make an impact for Head Start’s children, families, and staff, and our work over the past few days is just the beginning. An idea that was hatched at our last pop-up event—using technology like smart speakers in classrooms to reduce paperwork—was developed and socialized today at the Workforce Catalyst, and now it will be taken back to Head Start programs throughout the country. That sharing of ideas and rapid idea-to-action problem-solving is what NHSA events are all about, and we are committed to continuing them as long as they continue to benefit the vulnerable children and families we serve.”
The Catalyst is part of a series of pop-up events designed to bring experts from the worlds of early childhood development, business, and philanthropy together to elevate Head Start’s future.
Participants in the Workforce Catalyst—a hybrid of a conference and design thinking workshop—sourced solutions to common challenges in four key areas: talent recruitment, mission fit, talent development, and employee experience.
The Catalyst began with discussion-inspiring presentations from workforce experts at innovative companies like Disney, Google, and Porter Novelli. Participants then chose specific challenges to tackle and then worked in teams to develop new ideas for immediate, concrete changes Head Start programs could make to strengthen their workforce.
At the conclusion of the Workforce Catalyst today, participants made individual commitment to take the ideas they developed back to their programs, and continue the conversation with their staff. NHSA pledged to facilitate both implementation and the next round of discussions on supporting the Head Start workforce at the Managers and Directors Academy, an annual professional development training in July.