Schedule at a Glance

Subject to change


Sunday, September 22nd - Pre-Institute Sessions

9:00 AM - 4:30 PM Data-Informed Decision-Making: Practical Tips, Tricks, and Tools You Can Start Using Today

$250 for members, $300 for non-members

Head Start programs are expected to consistently meet high standards and provide high-quality services, so it is especially important to understand how Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) methods can help to best serve children and families in your program. CQI presents an opportunity for real growth but these processes can also be a significant change for many programs.

This workshop will introduce senior leadership and management staff to the world of quality improvement science, with a strong emphasis on real-world tools and practices you can use to re-calibrate your use of data in decision-making. Attendees will get hands-on practice with important CQI frameworks and tools to bring back to use in Head Start programs. Individuals are welcome, but for best results we recommend coming with a team of 3-4 people from your program.

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Hot Topics in Head Start: Stay Current Stay in Compliance

Presenter: Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP

$300 as Institute Add-On, $500 for this session alone

It can be challenging to keep everything straight between the Head Start Program Performance Standards, state regulations, and federal law requirements under the Uniform Guidance. In the era of the Designation Renewal System (DRS), getting it wrong can have huge negative consequences.

In this one-day workshop, FTLF attorneys will describe the laws that apply to Head Start programs, explain where the rules come from, what they mean on a practical level, how to meet the standards for compliance and how to solve problematic concerns your program may face. In each area, we will provide specific examples to ensure that you know how to spot an issue and be able to apply what you learn in a real-world setting. This training will cover the key topics every Head Start leader needs to understand, highlighting the challenges you face every day.

Monday, September 23rd

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM Institute Orientation

Is this your first Leadership Institute? Even if it's your 15th, are you curious how the week's agenda came together? This orientation session will walk through the week, explore why each session was selected and speaker invited, and offer some tips for making your Institute as successful as possible!

10:30 - 11:30 AM General Opening Session & Keynote

The Institute will formally get under way with a welcome from NHSA leadership and a keynote address from Eric Motley, prominent Head Start alum and an executive vice president at the Aspec Institute.

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM Over the Hill and Farces Away: Hill Prep 2019

What are the secrets to successful visits with members of Congress and their staff? Have you ever wondered how other people's visits go? What's the best possible outcome and the silliest snafoo? Come hear the real stories--the good and the bad--of visits past. Then, get the inside scoop on our plan to ensure that Congress hears Head Start's needs loud and clear.

12:30 - 2:00 PM Lunch
2:00 PM – 3:15 PM Breakout Sessions

  • 1A: Data and Leadership: A Perfect MatchIt’s not just tech experts and data whizzes who can successfully use data in Head Start. Program leaders have taken to using data dashboards in their programs to support their management skills. Come hear from two fellow Executive Directors about how they have revolutionized their own management and leadership skills in the last year by using different data tools and how you can do the same.
  • 1B: Diving Deep: The Federal Budget and its Impact on Head StartEvery year, Congress goes through the process of updating and approving funding for all discretionary programs - including Head Start. While different every year, this appropriations process follows a somewhat predictable path - one that Head Start has followed successfully for the past decade! This advanced session will take a deep dive into the federal budgeting process and how it impacts Head Start.
  • 1C: Building Economic Stability and Self-Sufficiency for Families in Head StartFor nearly fifty-five years, the Head Start mission has been rooted in breaking the cycle of poverty by serving the most vulnerable children and families in communities across the country through collaborative relationships with parents that support a family's growth and long-term success. Research documents many intergenerational benefits of Head Start that range from higher educational attainment, better health, and the interruption of the cycle of poverty, keeping Head Start as a leader in supporting and empowering families in their pursuit of self-sufficiency and economic stability. Join this session to hear from experts about Head Start's impact on family growth and economic stability and how we can continue this success.
3:30 – 4:30 PM Building a Network of Champions: How to Use the New Digital Head Start Language Playbook

Want to communicate more powerfully about the impact of Head Start? NHSA is pleased to launch our digital Head Start Language Playbook - a new online tool filled with words that work, words that don’t, and the reasons why. This hands-on session, featuring the team that designed the digital playbook, will guide you through how to use this resource to help you form new partnerships, advocate more impactfully with lawmakers, and explain to your community about the power of the Head Start Advantage.

4:30 – 5:30 PM Head Start Town Hall

The first day of the Institute will conclude with the NHSA's 7th annual Town Hall. This town hall session will be your chance to ask Yasmina, NHSA's Executive Director, and Tommy, NHSA's Senior Director for Government Affairs, those burning questions you have on your mind - be it strategy, policy thoughts, or anything else!

5:30 - 7:00 PM Opening Networking Reception

Tuesday, September 24th

8:30 - 9:45 AM Words From the Wise: Head Start in Today's Political Climate

A crowd-pleaser every year, Day 2 will open with a candid panel made up of NHSA's three lobbyists. They will share their read of the political tea leaves, what's on the agenda for Congress in the months ahead, what Head Start needs to do to turn every threat into an opportunity, and how we can make the most of all those opportunities!

10:00 - 11:00 AM Breakout Sessions:

  • 2A: Undeniable: Head Start's Impact on Children and FamiliesResearch shows the positive impact that Head Start has on children and families both immediately and in the long term, an effect we have come to call the Head Start Advantage. Hear from respected researchers and leave with resources to help you talk about Head Start's positive outcomes with your elected officials, local partners, and broader community.
  • 2B: Preparing a Resilient Program for Unexpected Natural DisastersIn recent years, our nation has had to endure quite a few devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters that have threatened the well-being of children and families. Head Start’s unique comprehensive services can help to provide support and care for those impacted while also building resilience strategies and coping mechanism to help children and families bounce back. Join this session to hear from programs who will share their experiences with extreme weather disasters and their suggestions for how your program can prepare to withstand and respond to the unexpected.
  • 2C: Engaging in the 2020 Census: Counting Young KidsIt is estimated that the 2020 Census could miscount up to 4 million young children overall, especially in 'hard to count' areas like many of our communities! As controversy swirls around the upcoming 2020 Census, it is critical that people are receiving accurate information about what to expect. In other words, it is more essential than ever for Head Start to be engaged with Census 2020 to ensure that every child is counted. Join us for an engaging panel discussion of the efforts to count all kids in 2020, including new insights and helpful resources.
11:15 AM - 12:30 PM Breakout Sessions:

  • 3A: Immigration's Impact on Head Start: No End in SightImmigration policy has been a hot topic in D.C. and across the country for several decades now, with no indication that the partisan discussion will let up anytime soon. Unfortunately, Head Start programs and families are being impacted by the fear, confusion, and misinformation of our nation's complicated immigration system - limiting parent engagement and hurting attendance rates. This session will discuss the challenges looming as the 2020 presidential race adds more fuel to the immigration fire and explore what some programs have done to successfully address these issues in their communities.
  • 3B: What is Quality Trauma-Informed Care?Across Head Start, there is an increasing need for, and understanding of, trauma-informed care. Whether trauma stems from community violence, parental addiction, or relocation due to storms, Head Start staff need to have at least a basic understanding of trauma-informed care. But what is quality trauma-informed care? And how can we best prepare our staff? Join experts to discuss this question and more.
  • 3C: The Future of State ECE Systems: A Discussion on Preschool Development GrantsPassed as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act legislation, the first round of Preschool Development Grants (PDGs) were awarded to virtually every state in 2018. Now that the first year is moving closer to completion, what lessons do states have from their planning grant year? And what's in store for next year as the renewal grant Funding Opportunity Announcements come out this fall?
12:30 - 2:00 PM Lunch
2:00 - 3:15 PM Breakout Sessions:

  • 4A: Building the Head Start Workforce one Parent at a TimeHead Start programs across the nation are taking Parent Engagement to the next level. As programs struggle to bring skilled and passionate staff into their classrooms and centers, many parents are stepping up to fill the void. Join this session to hear from programs who are partnering with parents to support their educational and career advancement to build the Head Start and ECE workforce.
  • 4B: Childhood Trauma: Existing Policy and New Opportunities for Head StartAs our country faces increasing challenges stemming from violence and addiction, how can Head Start adapt to ensure children are able to reach their fullest potential? What opportunities will help us get there? Join this discussion to hear about the federal policymaking and grantmaking landscape that stands to impact Head Start's work around trauma.
  • 4C: When Every Move Matters: Crisis Communications Tips for Head Start ProgramsJoin experts in crisis communications to explore how to navigate real-world public affairs emergencies. Learn what steps you can take to minimize any damage to Head Start's reputation and restore public confidence in your program.
3:30 – 5:30 PM Closing Keynote: How to Communicate When the Facts Don't Matter

How do you change someone's mind—or at least advance the conversation—when everyone is entrenched in their own points of view? Communication expert Lee Carter has spent nearly 20 years advising and helping the world's most well-known companies do just that. In this talk she will share some of the counterintuitive secrets to breaking through. Filled with deeply researched insights into how we make up—and change—our minds, as well as colorful real-world examples and actionable recommendations, this keynote will help you hone your message and craft your narrative in order to be heard and get results.

Wednesday, September 25th - Hill Day

9:30 - 10:30 AM Rally on the Hill
10:30 AM - 4:00 PM Hill Visits with members of Congress

Thursday, September 26th

8:30 - 9:45 AM Achieving Full Enrollment: Practical Strategies for Reaching the Most Vulnerable

Whether located in rural, urban, or suburban America, Head Start programs everywhere have come up with unique strategies for reaching, enrolling, and supporting children and families who are often hard to reach in their communities. From foster care, immigrant families, those experiencing homelessness, and those impacted by addiction, programs have developed innovative ways to reach the most vulnerable. Our final day together will begin with a critical discussion of strategies from programs who have tapped overlooked resources and partnerships to reach more children and families in need and, and why achieving full enrollment is so essential to the success of Head Start.

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM Updates from the Office of Head Start

As we do every year, we'll wrap up the 2019 Fall Leadership Institute by spending the morning with the Office of Head Start (OHS). Join OHS Director Dr. Deborah Bergeron and her senior leadership team for updates on key OHS priorities, answers to your pressing questions, and a discussion to help you understand the administration's vision for the future of Head Start.

12:00 PM Closing Comments