Supervision and Transitions: ACF-IM-HS-15-05



TO: Head Start and Early Head Start Grantees and Delegate Agencies

SUBJECT: Supervision and Transitions

The Office of Head Start (OHS) asks all Head Start and Early Head Start program leaders to remind staff to prioritize children’s safety by providing continuous supervision. Governing bodies, Tribal Councils, Policy Councils, directors, and managers must create a culture of safety within their programs. Everyone shares responsibility for keeping children safe. Grantee staff must ensure that “no child will be left alone or unsupervised while under their care” (45 CFR1304.52 (i)(1)(iii)).

OHS has received reports about children being left unsupervised inside and outside of Head Start programs, as well as on playgrounds and buses. These incidents are a grave concern for programs, OHS, and the families who entrust their children to Head Start care. Leaving children unsupervised increases the risk of serious injuries and emotional distress. Children who leave the Head Start facility alone may be exposed to further danger.

At the regional level, OHS responds to these incidents by contacting the grantee to gather information regarding the context, circumstances, and follow-up actions, including whether the incident has been reported to the appropriate licensing entity. Regional Offices also request copies of relevant documentation, such as communication with the family of the child or children involved, licensing reports and investigations where applicable, written procedures and related training records, and actions taken by the program in response to the incident.

On the local level, OHS recommends that each grantee’s governing body (the Tribal Council in Region XI) and Policy Council work with program management to develop and communicate an agency-wide child supervision plan. The plan should build a culture of safety by ensuring that each person understands his or her role in keeping all enrolled children safe, and that child-to-staff ratios are maintained at all times.

Active supervision is a set of strategies for supervising infants, toddlers, and preschool children in the following areas: grantee, delegate, and partner classrooms; field trips and socializations; family child care homes; and on playgrounds and school buses. Grantees should include action steps to implement each active supervision strategy in their child supervision plans. These six strategies work together to create an effective approach to child supervision.

  • Set up the environment to supervise children at all times. This may include developing and posting a daily classroom schedule for children, teachers, substitutes, and volunteers to follow that helps to keep the day predictable. The height and arrangement of classroom furniture and outdoor equipment should be considered to allow effective monitoring and supervision of children at all times.
  • Position staff to see and reach children at all times. Plans can include staffing charts that identify the teacher responsible for each area or activity and his or her duties during transitions before and after an activity.
  • Scan the environment, including assigned areas of the classroom or outdoor area, and count the children. Staff need to communicate with each other so everyone knows where each child is and what each one is doing. This is especially important in play areas and on the playground when children are constantly moving.
  • Listen closely to children and the environment to identify signs of potential danger immediately. Listen to and talk with team members, especially when a staff person or a child has to leave the area, so that staff knows where other staff are located.
  • Anticipate children’s behavior to give children any needed additional support, especially at the start of the school year and during transitions. Children who wander off or lag behind are more likely to be left unsupervised.
  • Engage and redirect when children are unable to solve problems on their own. Offer different levels of assistance according to each individual child’s needs.

Transitions are often the most challenging times to supervise children. To prevent children from being left unsupervised, program plans should include specific strategies for managing transitions throughout the day, such as when children arrive, leave, or move from one location to another within a center. Some examples may include:

  • Develop specific plans for regular routines, such as drop-off and pick-up times, including staff assignments (who will monitor the door, etc.).
  • Ensure teachers, teachers’ aides, and volunteers know when transitions will take place and are in position to provide constant supervision.
  • Discuss how the team will adjust to maintain appropriate adult-to-child ratios at all times, including when a teacher needs to leave the room.
  • Ensure parents understand their responsibilities during drop-off and pick-up of their child, and be alert to and communicate potential child wanderings as needed.
  • Limit the amount of time children are waiting in line to transition.
  • Reaffirm to children what adults expect during transitions.
  • Include plans for irregular times, such as when a center closes early due to weather or an outside door is open to allow the delivery of supplies.

Programs should report incidents of unsupervised children to the Regional Office of Head Start within three days of the incident, including, where applicable, any reports made or information shared with child welfare agencies, state licensing bodies, and parents. Regional Offices will provide technical assistance, as appropriate.

Programs are busy, active places. Head Start grantees that develop and use child supervision plans include roles for everyone to create a culture of safety where children can learn and grow.

Please contact your Office of Head Start Regional Office for more information on child safety, active supervision, and transitions.

/ Blanca E. Enriquez /

Blanca E. Enriquez
Office of Head Start

Source: Office of Head Start

Available at:

Available in Spanish at:ñol/2015/resour_ime_005e_091815.html

Four Important Things Research Tells Us About the Transition to School 


The transition to school is a rite of passage in the lives of children and their families. For children, it means meeting new teachers and friends, adapting to a different and often larger hustling and bustling environment, and adjusting to new rules and expectations. For families, the transition to school can bring about a variety of emotions.

At Harvard Family Research Project we define transition as a process—not just a one-time event—that begins during children’s preschool years and continues into and through 3rd grade. Keep in mind that transition is also a time when children begin to take part in an increasing number of learning settings, both in and out of school. In this commentary (PDF), we highlight four important things that research tells us about the transition to school, including that:

  • Transition is a matter of equity
  • A smooth transition to school makes a difference for children’s outcomes
  • Families play an important role in the transition to school
  • Relationships among families, early childhood programs, schools, and communities are the foundation of effective transition practice

A number of research articles, many using data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–99 (ECLS-K), have informed our thinking about the transition to school. We have provided the references in this commentary (PDF) in alphabetical order as a helpful resource.

Source: HFRP – Harvard Family Research Project

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Comprometiendo a las familias en la transición al kínder

August 2014

Vea cómo un programa de Head Start en Laguna, NM prepara a los niños y las familias para la transición al kindergarten. Las asociaciones sólidas entre las familias, los programas y las escuelas conducen a un mayor éxito para los niños. Descubra estrategias específicas que apoyan a los niños y las familias durante esta importante transición.

Source: National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement and the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center

Available at:

Moving Right Along: Planning Transitions to Prevent Challenging Behavior

Monday, May 19, 2014
1 – 1:45 p.m. EDT

The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL) hosts the Front Porch Series Broadcast Calls on the fourth Monday of each month. These calls are your opportunity to hear from national experts on current research and findings in early childhood education.

Join us for Moving Right Along: Planning Transitions to Prevent Challenging Behavior, May 19, 2014 at 1 p.m. EDT. Dr. Michaelene Ostrosky will moderate the call. Doctors Kathleen Artman Meeker and Kiersten Kinder will present. Dr. Artman Meeker is an assistant professor at the University of Washington. She has served as a K-3 special education teacher, pre-service supervisor, teacher coach, and researcher. In addition, she works with NCQTL.

Dr. Kinder is the site director at the Susan Gray School of Peabody College, an inclusive child care center that serves as the lab school for the Early Childhood Special Education Program at Vanderbilt University. She has taught in inclusive preschool and pre-K programs, and coached teachers to implement the Pyramid Model. Dr. Kinder has participated in research on coaching, preventing challenging behaviors, and embedded instruction. She also develops trainings for NCQTL.

For many teachers, transitions are the hardest parts of the day. Researchers estimate that young children spend up to 30 percent of their day transitioning: arrival, departure, getting ready for meals, and moving between areas or activities. Children’s challenging behavior may be related to how staff members plan, schedule, and implement transitions. Predictable, structured routines are critical for helping children feel secure, and for helping teachers maximize learning.

Topics for the webinar include:

  • Why transitions can be challenging for children and adults
  • Ideas for using transitions to teach
  • Strategies to help all children participate successfully in well-planned routines

Who Should Listen?

This broadcast call will benefit an array of audience members, including: Head Start, Early Head Start, Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, and American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start program staff, parents, directors, managers, and administrators; T/TA managers; T/TA providers; federal and Regional Office staff; and State Collaboration Offices.

Participating in the Broadcast Call

The broadcast call will be accessible only via computer. Select this link to register for the broadcast call and to review system requirements for participation:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing additional instructions on how to join the broadcast. Space is limited to 1,000 participants. This presentation will be archived in the Front Porch Series section of the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC).

Stay Connected with #NCQTL

During and after the presentation, we encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences regarding the Front Porch Series Broadcast Call on Twitter! Include #NCQTL in your tweets to participate in the chat. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can still follow the conversation at


You may send your questions to or call (toll-free) 1-877-731-0764.

via National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning Event.

Early Childhood Research & Practice

Spring 2013

We are pleased to welcome you to the Spring 2013 issue of Early Childhood Research & Practice. ECRP is now in its 15th year as an open-access, peer-reviewed, multilingual internet-only journal with a continually growing international readership. ECRP receives more than 1,700,000 user visits annually from the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, South America, China, and many other places around the world.

The current issue includes five articles on a range of topics related to early care, education, and intervention. A special section on parents’ perspectives may be of interest to advocates of emphasizing the voices of parents in early childhood research; three small studies from the U.S. are featured in that section. For the first time, ECRP also offers reviews of recently-published books.

Are you an educator who is interested in the Project Approach? Our multi-media 2-disc teacher resource titled Projects to Go includes the popular DVD “Rearview Mirror: Reflections on a Preschool Car Project” and a CD-ROM of selected ECRP articles (most in both English and Spanish) related to the Project Approach. See for more information.

Topics addressed in this issue include:

  • recent literature related to young children’s school readiness in literacy and mathematics
  • parent-child interactions during family cooking activities
  • reactions of adult and adolescent mothers of children receiving early intervention services to specific aspects of those services
  • perspectives of parents with young children on the autism spectrum regarding their families’ experiences with early intervention services
  • mothers’ and fathers’ observations of their children’s transitions from a child-centered preschool into traditional kindergartens

We hope that you find these articles useful.

ECRP is an open-access journal. We do not take subscriptions and fees from authors are not accepted. We cannot accept advertising. Thus, we are completely dependent on contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporate donors. So we urge you to help support ECRP with a tax-deductible donation. Any amount can make a difference. In fact, if each of our readers donated just $5, we could sustain the journal indefinitely!

Donations to ECRP are managed by the University of Illinois Foundation (UIF). For instructions, go to

We also invite you to like us on Facebook.

Thank you,
Lilian G. Katz, editor
Jean A. Mendoza, associate editor
Susan Fowler, associate editor

Source: Early Childhood Research & Practice

Available at:

Starting Child Care It’s a Transition for Parents Too!


As I talked with a mother, Dawn, about the past year with her infant daughter in my care, she shared how hard it was to start coming to the program: “I really didn’t know you yet, and I worried that you might not take good care of Lucy. Worse, I was afraid that she might forget me.” Then Dawn con- fessed, with some embarrassment, “Sometimes, when I smelled your scent on her clothes, I felt like she was cheating on me.”

Source: Young Children/National Association for the Education of Young Children

Available at:

Movin’ on Supportive Transitions for Infants and Toddlers


It is the end of the day in the Sunflower room. Miss Lisa sings the good-bye song to each 2-year- old as his or her family member arrives. Miss Paula is at the door helping children gather projects and personal items to take home. After the good-bye song, each child has a slightly different routine for leaving. Some children want a hug, some say good-bye to the fish, and others simply wave and leave.

During their time with this group, Lisa and Paula have created end- of-the-day routines with each child. With August approaching, they want to make the larger end-of-the- program-year transition out of their room feel as individualized and supportive as the children’s daily good-byes have become.

Source: Young Children/National Association for the Education of Young Children

Available at:

Helping Babies Make Transitions


Keisha is in turmoil. Last week she was the assistant teacher of young 3s. unexpectedly, she is now a teacher in an infant classroom, caring for four babies ranging in age from 6 weeks to 12 months. Keisha knows she has the skills and abilities to work with babies, but she does not know the children or their routines. She is scared. She is not sleeping; her stomach has been upset. if only there had been time to follow the center’s transition plan, maybe she would not be so anxious. at least she can talk to her family, the director, and other staff about her feelings.
But the infants in Keisha’s classroom are coping with a transition too. unlike Keisha, they can’t use words to explain their feelings of uncertainty, frustration, loss, and fear.
“Transitions are about change, a passage from one experience, stage, or activ- ity to another” (Early Head Start National Resource Center 2004, 2). Keisha is  going from one position to another. She is able to voice her feelings of concern  and associate them to her physical ailments.

Source: Young Children/National Association for the Education of Young Children

Available at: