Program of Excellence: Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start

Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) Head Start/Early Head Start has been a National Head Start Association Program of Excellence for more than two decades. Their broad reach and innovative partnerships provide Florida families with the highest quality services.

One of Hillsborough County’s Head Start partnerships is with Metropolitan Ministries, an organization supporting individuals experiencing homelessness. “This is a great partnership,” says LaVonne Malphus-Nelson, Manager of Family and Community Engagement and Program Governance Administration for Hillsborough County Head Start/Early Head Start Department.

“The families enrolled in theHead Start and/or Early Head Start program reside at Metropolitan Ministries and our center is housed in their facility. As partners, we work together with the families on reaching self-sufficiency. This is accomplished by providing the families with training on parenting classes, budgeting, GED classes, counseling services, employment assistance, etc. With this partnership and collaboration, we are working together in meeting the families’ needs all in one location, no matter how serious their needs are.”

To ensure continuity of care, families who move into permanent housing from Metropolitan Ministries can remain at the Head Start program at Metropolitan Ministries or transfer to one of Hillsborough County BOCC’s other locations so their children can continue receiving services.

“Additionally, Metropolitan Ministries staff provide trauma-informed care to our Head Start parents and our staff,” says LaVonne. “The Head Start parents and staff are provided this training to better assist them in working with this specific population.”

Another partnership that enables Hillsborough Head Start programs to meet families’ holistic needs is with the County’s Social Services Department. “The Head Start program is under the auspice of the Board of County Commissioners. With this, we can connect families to other services that are under this government entity,” LaVonne says. “If parents are interested in obtaining their GED or getting a CDL or entering another trade, the Social Services Department can assist these families with enrolling and paying for their classes. In addition, the Social Services Department is able to assist families with paying rent/mortgage or utility bills, which has been especially important during the pandemic.”

These partnerships exemplify Head Start’s commitment to supporting the whole child and the whole family, which designate Hillsborough BOCC a Program of Excellence.

Lucy Truschel

Lucy Truschel is NHSA's former manager of communications.

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