Our Mission

The Minnesota Head Start Association mission is to advocate for low-income families and inspire high standards of service for young children by providing innovative leadership and programs to help children, families, and communities reach their full potential.

Our Vision

Our vision is to support local programs as they support families to meet their goals for their children’s future.

Supporting Local Programs

Minnesota’s Head Start programs rely on the Association to gather information about gaps and trends in local service delivery, focusing on families with young children. Identifying common concerns for local programs and families affords the Association opportunities to help grantees develop statewide strategies to improve Head Start programs and policies.

Grantees also rely on the Association to communicate trends, issues, information on local program response and outcomes, and challenges to the broader community including regional, state and national audiences. In this way, the Association is also an advocate for low-income children and families and the Head Start programs that serve them.

MHSA’s Position Statements:
  1. MHSA proactively promotes the continuous quality improvement of each Minnesota Head Start program, while paying attention to each program’s unique setting and culture. 
  2. MHSA has credibility and influence as an advocacy organization that amplifies the voices of parents, and serves as an expert resource on child development, early learning and comprehensive approaches to family well-being. 
  3. MHSA builds inclusive communities free from discrimination. 
  4. MHSA operates a professional development system that yields high quality staff equipped to work in a two-generation program. 
  5. MHSA is a national model for continuous quality improvement through its statewide analysis of early childhood / family learning data. 
  6. MHSA thrives on a diverse and sustainable financial base. 
  7. MHSA devotes time and resources to build and maintain strong relationships with partner organizations that can aggressively address issues of low-income families with young children. 
A United Voice

MHSA is also funded through membership dues from grantee agencies. The Association’s organizational chart illustrates the relationship between member agencies and the Association’s membership structure and governance.

Board of Directors governs the Association and its twenty members represent each affiliate member group (directors, staff, parents and friends). The Association employs a full-time executive director and membership and training coordinator contracts some technical and support functions.

Our Activities

Most activities of MHSA are carried out by a many volunteers from the various affiliates who serve on standing committees and ad hoc advisory boards assembled at the discretion of the Board. MHSA works in close partnership with the Minnesota Community Action Partnership, advocating jointly on behalf of families with young children in Minnesota.

The Association’s Executive Director represents the Head Start community on statewide early childhood consortiums and health planning initiatives. The Association works closely with the State Head Start Collaboration Director in the Minnesota Department of Education and the various state agencies whose responsibilities it is to address the challenges of improving services for low-income families.

 Some of the consortiums
MHSA partners with:

  • Prenatal to 3 Coalition
  • Target Home Visiting Coalition
  • MN Child Care Coalition
  • Voices and Choices for Children
  • Think Small
  • Close the Gap by 5
Comprehensive Services

A cornerstone of Head Start is its comprehensive services approach to schoolreadiness for low-income children. Head Start provides work toward achieving School Readiness Goals in several areas:

Social-Emotional Development

Increasing children’s abilities and skills in regulating their emotions, building relationships, participating in a group, and conflict resolution.

Language and Literacy

Development of abilities and skills in speaking to express their thoughts and needs, listening and understanding, phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, reading, book enjoyment and writing.


Development of skills and abilities in number concepts, shapes and spatial awareness, measurement and patterns.

English Language Learning

Head Start promotes the growth of a child’s primary language, as well as acquisition of English language skills.

Family Services

To help parents reach self sufficiency so poverty presents less of a barrier to a child’s ability to reach his or her full potential.

Physical Development and Health

Development of abilities and skills in gross and fine motor, personal care and healthy behaviors.

Cognition and Approaches to Learning

Development of abilities and skills in how children approach learning, remembering concepts and experiences, using classification skills and symbols.

Science and Technology

Development of abilities and skills in scientific inquiry, knowledge of living things / earth’s environment, and using tools to perform tasks.

Health Services

To ensure health is not a barrier to school readiness, including immunizations, oral health, mental health, and physical health including developmental screenings.

Parent Engagement

Head Start is a “two-generational” approach.  We promote child AND family development, with parent engagement as our cornerstone.  Head Start maintains a philosophy that the parent/guardian is the primary educator of their child and that parents/guardians feel supported to reach their full potential. 

Community Partnerships

Head Start programs build and maintain strong community partners throughout the State of Minnesota to realize positive outcomes for children and families. MN Head Start programs partner with:

  • School-based programs
  • Health
  • Dental
  • Nutrition
  • Mental health providers
  • Family services
  • Social services
  • Housing services
  • Educational institutions and job trainers
  • Neighborhood and cultural organizations
  • Community experts in program evaluation and planning

And other child care services to provide full-day and/or full-year programming.

Performance Standards

In 1975 the federal government released the Head Start Program Performance Standards, and program monitoring began in earnest. The Performance Standards are detailed regulations for all areas of Head Start program operations. These Standards are written as a set of outcomes that each program must achieve, however, each program has to freedom to determine how they will reach these outcomes based on their community resources and needs.

Programs undergo a rigorous in-depth monitoring on a routine and scheduled basis.  If any concerns are identified, programs must go through a process to identify how they will make corrections and program improvement.   

Early Head Start

Pregnant women, infants and toddlers in Minnesota Head Start programs receive care and stimulation appropriate to their age and developmental level, with the overall goal being the cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development of each child.

Interested in supporting our cause?