May 2023 | The Monthly Newsletter of the Florida Head Start Association 

Letter from the Executive Director  

Head Start is something to celebrate. For more than 58 years, our nation's most vulnerable children and families have relied on a program offering a solid foundation of early learning that promotes language and literacy development, early math and science concepts, and positive attitudes toward education that they may otherwise not have access to. In addition, Head Start prides itself on its health services and support through medical, dental, hearing, vision, and behavioral screenings.  Family strengthening is also a significant component of Head Start's rich heritage involving parents in all aspects of the decision-making process within the policy council and aiding families in challenging times.  

As Project Head Start has evolved into more than a summer program, we should focus on the children and families uplifted by this program and continue offering life-changing opportunities to the children and families we serve.  On Thursday, May 18, I hope you will join us and the nation as we celebrate Head Start's birthday. Let's flood social media with Head Start birthday celebrations by using #HappyBdayHeadStart or #HeadStartBirthday and tag us in your social media posts. Use @FLHSA on Facebook and @FlaHeadStart on Twitter & Instagram. The Office of Head Start and NHSA have created some excellent social media toolkits to join the celebration. You can check them out below.  

FHSA emailed an invitation on Tuesday, April 25, to all Grantee Recipients in Florida for us to begin the work on the 2023 Wage & Benefits Survey. We partner with the Florida Head Start Collaboration Office to provide a comprehensive study for you to design compensation policies and practices that are fair and equitable and enable you to attract and retain qualified personnel. Your participation is vital to this project, and I hope you can participate. If you did not receive it, contact [email protected] as soon as possible.  

The FHSA professional development committee seeks members' input on professional development and training needs you and your staff desire. We want to continue to bring quality training that is valuable and needed. Deadline to complete the survey is Friday, May 19, 2023. Click here to get started.  

FHSA annual awards program has opened nominations for our 2023-2024 awards cycle. Learn more about his program below.  

Friday, May 5, is Florida's last day of its 2023 legislative session. Many bills were heard at the State Capitol this year; however, very few related to early childcare education. We will provide an update after session and advise what passed and what didn't and how FHSA will move forward for the 2024 session. You can view the updates on the legislative bills we are monitoring below.  

In Fellowship, 

Wanda Minick
Executive Director 

 Office of Head Start Updates

OHS Invites you to Join the Party & Celebrate 58 Years of Head Start

Join the Office of Head Start (OHS) in commemorating the many years of service to the community using the OHS Birthday Celebration Social Media Toolkit. This toolkit contains graphics and posts for all your social media accounts. Please help us promote our Head Start birthday celebration among parents and families and providers of early care, education, and family services!

Head Start Vaccine and Testing Announcement 

HHS announced that it intends to remove the regulatory requirement for vaccines in Head Start programs for Head Start staff, contractors, and volunteers, as well as the weekly testing requirement for individuals granted an exemption from the vaccine requirement. The interim final rule’s vaccine and testing requirements are not currently in effect as the result of a recent district court decision. Click here to read more.  

The Office of Head Start National Head Start Fellowship Program 

Join the Office of Head Start (OHS) for their National Head Start Fellowship Program webcast Thursday, May 25, at 1:00 p.m. ET. 
The Head Start National Fellowship Program was established in statute in 1995 in the Head Start Act with the stated purpose of providing opportunities for professionals in the field of early childhood to expand their knowledge and experience through exposure to activities, ideas for resources, and new approaches in the field of child development and family services. 
Past Head Start fellows have made significant contributions to the Head Start programming, such as contributing to monitoring program design,  creating and leading training at national conferences and, participating in professional leadership & development, team building, contributing to ACF Head Start research, and even authors of Head Start regulations. 
Learn about the eligibility requirements and the application process. All interested applicants are encouraged to attend this informational webinar.


Nominations Now Open: FHSA Annual Awards

Know exceptional individuals and programs that deserve recognition for their accomplishments and dedication to
Florida's Head Start Community?  

Consider nominating them for an FHSA Award. There are 14 State and Regional Awards and 4 National Awards.  

All 2024 applications must reflect services contributed during the current program/school year as of June 2023.  

Deadline is Friday, June 15, 2023

Hear from Staff of the Year Maria O'Donnell about what this recognition meant to her. 


What's Happening Around the State

FHSA would like to congratulate the Early Childhood Policy WORKS Advocacy Fellowship (ECPWAF) inaugural class, especially FHSA Board of Director Brigette Davis. These graduates participated in a year-long series of in-person and virtual workshops to develop their advocacy skills. The graduates enjoyed a ceremony during Children's Week in March of 2023. 

The 19 Advocacy Fellows included a diverse cadre of teachers, parents, directors, and early childhood stakeholders. They became equipped and empowered to serve as change agents in local, state, and national conversations around early childhood issues and the early learning workforce. 

FHSA looks forward to seeing these advocates in action. Well done! 

Applause, Applause, Applause to FHSA members of Episcopal Children's Services for being awarded $50K to support essential services in their community through the CareSource grant. 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., April 27, 2023 - Episcopal Children's Services (ECS) has been chosen as the winner of the Northeast Florida Grant Challenge competition, sponsored by CareSource, a nationally recognized nonprofit health plan enterprise. The award of $50,000 will help support the essential Head Start, Early Head Start, and School Readiness programming that is greatly needed in the 14 counties the agency serves. 

"We are thrilled to receive this grant from the CareSource Foundation," stated Connie Stophel, Episcopal Children's Services Chief Executive Officer. "As a result, we will be able to better serve the children of this community who deserve the opportunity to reach their fullest potential." Click here to read the press release in its entirety. 

FHSA would like to recognize the upcoming retirement of Ms. Connie Stophel as Chief Executive Officer of Episcopal Children’s Services (ECS). Ms. Stophel has been leading ECS as CEO since 2003; however, her career with the agency spans over 30 years. Her commitment to excellence, superb leadership, and dedication to innovation are only exceeded by her passion for creating opportunities for the children the agency serves to reach their full potential in life. Click here to read press release. 


Celebrate 58 Years of Success!

Head Start will turn 58 on Thursday, May 18, and NHSA wants the whole Head Start nationwide to join in the celebration.   

Check out NHSA social media tool kit that provides sample social messages you can use. Remember to include photos of your program or use one of their Birthday graphics. Be sure to use #HappyBirthdayHeadStart. We'd love to see it trending on social media.  

NHSA will commemorate this special day by hosting Celebrate with the Zoo for Head Start’s Birthday. This event starts at 2:00 p.m. ET. You can read all the details here. 

Debt Limit Legislation Would Cause Irreparable Damage to Head Start

April 24, 2023 

Washington, D.C. — Last week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) unveiled legislation designed to reduce federal spending while extending the federal debt limit. The debt limit proposal includes a decade-long series of austere spending caps that would apply to discretionary funds, which would likely mean steep funding cuts to programs like Head Start and Early Head Start. Click here to read NHSA press release.

NHSA Applauds White House Executive Order; Looks to Congress to Move Country Forward

April 18, 2023

Washington, D.C. — NHSA applauds President Biden for signing an executive order this afternoon directing federal agencies to marshal all possible resources available to improve access to high-quality, affordable early learning and child care, while increasing pay for those who provide it. Click here to read NHSA press release. 

NHSA breaks down President Biden's Executive Order which has more than 50 executive actions to expand access to affordable, high-quality care and support care workers and family caregivers. Click here to read the NHSA summary. the Monthly Newsletter! With this email, you'll receive all of the top updates from FHSA, as well as new features. To login to your account make sure you've got your username and password handy! 

Three Things Heightening Head Start Awareness

Upcoming Events


8-11- NHSA Annual Conference 

8-11- CLASS Observer Reliability Training 

8- The Conversation Guide for Professionals on Substance Use, Children, and Families: Virtual Training 

10- The State of Our Children's Health  

16 - Education Manager Series: Responding to Persistent Challenging Behavior as a Leader

FHSA Professional Development Committee 

17- FHSA Free Music Class  

17 - Coaching Corner Series: The ABCs of Addressing Persistent Challenging Behavior 

18 - Celebrate with the Zoo for Head Start’s Birthday

22- Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Hours

23- Inclusion Series: Partnering with Families to Support Inclusion: Part 1 

23-25- Virtual Health and Mental Health Leaders Institute 

23-25- Beyond Budgets & Buildings: Fiscal and Facilities Institute 

25- Office of Head Start (OHS) Webcast: The National Head Start Fellowship Program 

25- 2023 Florida Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Solution Summit  

25- FHSA Lunch and Learn with FAIMH  

29- FHSA Office closed in observance of Memorial Day 

29- The Conversation Guide for Professionals on Substance Use, Children and Families: Virtual Training 


Member Information 

Change of address, email or any information? You will need to login to your profile in our organization.

Important Links

FHSA Lunch & Learn

Join Us for our Last FREE Music Class

FHSA Free Music Classes 2023 Schedule
FHSA Member Benefit Discounted Pricing
Teachstone CDA Class On Demand
Teachstone CDA Class Facilitated

FHSA has partnered with Teachstone to deliver FHSA members access to their on-demand and/or facilitated CDA with CLASS® program with discounted membership pricing now through September 30, 2023.


Legislative Bills FHSA is Monitoring

Each bill is an active link for you to click on to learn more. 


Click the link below to see what legislation NHSA is tracking. 



Join your State Association:  FHSA provides members with access to tools, resources, and collaborative relationships empowering your agency's management team, staff, and parents. FHSA offers Individual and Corporate memberships too!

Support your State Association: Help FHSA ensure Florida programs are supported through professional opportunities, research efforts, and legislation so they can continue to provide high-quality services to Florida's most at-risk children and families. 

 Florida Head Start Association
111 N. Gadsden Street, Suite 200
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 694-6477
[email protected]