Collaborating with other organizations and agencies is an essential part of ensuring the success of the Higher Horizons Head Start and Early Head Start program. Community partners assist Higher Horizons with building the capacity for families to be self-sufficient by providing a comprehensive range of resources for families. Throughout the years, Higher Horizons has established community partnerships with over 50 public and private service providers. Higher Horizons’ partners have provided families with free health and dental screenings, health information, opportunities involving recruitment activities, Medicaid information and mental health services.
If it were not for the additional support from a variety of community partners, Higher Horizons acknowledges that the organization would not be able to offer such an extensive array of services. At Higher Horizons, we are always interested in exploring the possibility of new collaborations and partnerships and we are thankful for the gracious support of our existing community partners.
The following are some examples of key community partners that Higher Horizons has collaborated with:
- Culmore Resource Center provides culturally appropriate, prevention-oriented programs that promote child protection and build on the strength of families.
- Fairfax County’s Community Services Board works to support the community by providing mental health resources and mental health services to infants, toddlers and their families.
- Infant and Toddler Connection of Virginia provides Early Head Start services to eligible families currently receiving early intervention services and families on the Infant and Toddler waitlist and facilitates the referral process for Early Head Start children.
- Local Colleges and Universities. Higher Horizons has solid partnerships with local colleges and universities and offer intern placements for social work interns, teaching interns, nursing interns, and special project interns. A key feature of the existing collaboration with George Mason University is their internship assignments from the Unified Transformative Early Education Model (UTEEM) program. The UTEEM program leads to a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction degree and triple teacher licensure. It prepares professionals to work with culturally, linguistically diverse young children and their families in schools and diverse community settings. Several interns who graduated from the program are currently employed at Higher Horizons and current summer 2009 interns have expressed interest in permanent employment. Higher Horizons has intern partnerships with NOVA, George Mason University School of Social Work and George Washington University.
- Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts – “Baby Steps” program, provides access to professionals who provide strategies for staff on innovative techniques for enhancing their interactions with infants and toddlers.
- The Junior League of Northern Virginia(Kids in the Kitchen Program) is a childhood obesity and nutrition initiative from the Association of Junior Leagues International, is designed to help our communities address the urgent issues surrounding childhood obesity and poor nutrition. Programming runs throughout the school year and culminates in the Kids in the Kitchen spring Fair.
Higher Horizons staff work in collaboration with the Human Services System in Fairfax County’s Region 2 which is driven by the needs of clients and the community, rather than based on agency organization. Region 2 is located in the central part of Fairfax County and includes the following communities:
- City of Falls Church
- Bailey’s Crossroads
- Seven Corners
- Pimmit Hills
- North Springfield
- Lake Barcroft
- a portion of Dunn Loring
This geographic region has the lowest total aggregate population yet embraces the highest percentage of multi-cultural residents.
The Human Services Regions in Fairfax County provides an integrated community-based service delivery system to respond to and anticipate the unique needs of individuals and families within a specific geographic area. The four human services regions were created based mainly on our county’s geographic areas, in addition to the following criteria:
- current human services caseload distribution
- total population distribution
- postal zip codes
- areas served by community-based organizations
- natural boundaries and communities
- school enrollment areas
- magisterial districts
- minority populations
- population income
Higher Horizons partners with the Cross Agency Team in Region 2 which convenes a meeting of nonprofits, faith-based organizations, businesses, schools, county staff, and public safety. The meeting is an opportunity to share information between programs and discuss issues related to the integrated delivery of human services. We meet on the second Monday of each month and work together with the following objectives:
- Increase and maintain awareness of resources in our region
- Foster enhanced service integration
- Increase civic engagement and partnership development
- Create innovative approaches to service delivery
Staff at Higher Horizons work closely with the Community Leaders Collaborative ,comprised of nonprofit, educational, and health care leaders who work with diverse immigrant and refugee communities in Region 2. This group meets quarterly to gather new data about changes in the populations and communities we serve, learn from each other, and identify opportunities to support each others work.