Here at HSC, we have two critical functions: advocacy and professional development. And our goal in everything we do is to meet your most pressing needs and make your life that much easier. To that end, this summer we teamed up with the Region 9 Head Start Association to conduct a survey on professional development needs. Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey! Your input is impactful and appreciated. We know you are asked to answer a lot of surveys and are grateful you chose to help map our future professional development offerings.

Key Conclusions

Our team dove into the survey results and gleaned several insights that will guide our upcoming offerings. The key conclusions we reached are below. You can view the full summary here.

Staffing Challenges Dominate Training Needs

Unsurprisingly, topics related to staffing shortages were dominant throughout the survey results. When asked the open-ended question “what are the three biggest professional development challenges in your agency right now,” the top responses were staffing shortages, staff, and staffing. This struggle is also reflected in the high priority placed on training related to staffing shortages, leadership development, staffing and culture, and staff wellness.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Heavily Influenced Professional Development Needs

We know that Head Start programs have not been immune to the massive upheaval caused by the pandemic. To identify exactly how training needs have changed over time, we compared current responses to the results of a similar survey conducted in 2018. Many of the most significant changes seem to have been driven by the pandemic, including increased demand for topics related to child development, mental health and wellness, and family law / custody issues.

Demand for Certain Topics Shifts Over Time

While many shifts in interest seem to be driven by the pandemic, the cause of others is not as clear. Demand for two related topics significantly decreased from 2018 to 2023: program monitoring, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement; and data collection and analysis.

Interactive Learning is Paramount

While we understand that interest in virtual learning remains (especially for understaffed and rural programs), the survey results indicated a strong preference for in-person, interactive learning.

Next Steps

Our team is using the data you provided to map future events and webinars. Proposals submitted for our events are evaluated with priority needs in mind. Where there are gaps in proposals (high-need topics for which no proposals were submitted) we are actively seeking speakers. We are also working with our Proud Partners to offer FREE monthly webinars on a variety of topics that meet identified needs. Your time and effort in responding to the survey will make our events and webinars an even more valuable experience for your team – thank you for helping map the road ahead!

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