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 Specialist, Head Start Mental Health - Washington, District of Columbia, United States

Job information
Posted by: DC Public Schools (DCPS) 
Hiring entity type: Educational Svcs. 
Work authorization: Not Specified for United States
Position type: Direct Hire, Full-Time 
Compensation: ******
Benefits: See below
Relocation: Not specified 
Position functions: Health - Social Work/Public Health
Travel: Unspecified 
Accept candidates: from anywhere 
Languages: English - Fluent
Minimum education: See below 
Minimum years experience: See below 
Resumes accepted in: English
Cover letter: No cover letter requested
Job code: a0x4U00000HQkkaQAD / Latpro-3839454 
Date posted: Nov-09-2021
State, Zip: District of Columbia, 20027


Job Title: Specialist, Head Start Mental Health

Office: Office of Elementary Schools

Date Posted: 11/9/2021

Salary Range: 1-5 / $82,007 - $92,534

NTE Date: 6/30/2023

The Government of the District of Columbia values the safety of our employees, our residents, and our visitors. In support of these values, if you are selected for this job, effective September 19, 2021 you must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, except when you choose to opt out of being vaccinated and instead agree to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. If you are invited to join our team, you must submit proof that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by uploading a copy of your vaccination card to your candidate dashboard, or you must select on your candidate dashboard that you are opting out of being vaccinated. If you opt out, you will be required to upload weekly a negative COVID-19 test to maintain employment with the Government of the District of Columbia. You will not be extended an offer of employment until you comply with the requirement to upload your vaccination card or opt out of being vaccinated.Position Overview

The Office of Social Emotional Academic Development works with the Chancellor to ensure coherence in the educational experience for our students, families, and schools. Our goal is to initiate change and lead DC Public Schools into the highest performing school district in the nation. We are currently in the process of creating our next strategic plan. After engaging with over 3,000 internal and external stakeholders to help shape the future of DCPS, our draft strategic priorities include:

  • Promote Equity: Define, understand, and promote equity to close achievement gaps and interrupt institutional bias.
  • Empower Our People: Recruit, develop, and retain a talented, caring, and diverse team.
  • Educate the Whole Child: Provide rigorous, joyful and inclusive academic and social emotional experiences for all students.
  • Ensure Excellent Schools: Increase the number of high quality schools across the district by defining blended autonomies for schools and creating opportunities for innovation.
  • Engage Families: Deepen partnerships with families and community.

The Office of Elementary Schools is responsible for effective management, operation and achievement of the elementary schools and provides leadership to principals, administrators, and teachers to ensure academic excellence for all students.

The Early Childhood Education Division (ECED), within OES, works to support the provision of high-quality early education services that prepare children for kindergarten entry and later school success. Approximately 6,000 children ages three to five attend early childhood classrooms in 78 elementary schools across the district, including several schools that offer Head Start programming.

The Specialist, Head Start Mental Health conducts regular observations of PK students in Head Start classrooms, supports teachers with interventions and social emotional supports for children, and provides clinical interventions (group, individual, family) for Head Start children and families. 

The Specialist, Head Start Mental Health will report to the Manager, Head Start Mental Health.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

The below statements are intended to describe the general nature and scope of work being performed by this position. This is not a complete listing of all responsibilities, duties, and/or skills required. Other duties may be assigned.

  • Provides specialized early childhood mental health and behavioral support, including individual and group counseling, psycho-education, and crisis intervention to children and their families in Head Start schools.

  • Implements a therapeutic program for families at home and/or in the community to expand upon school supports, including evidenced-based therapy for and with parents, child behavioral support coaching, and specialized case management for families with extreme and/or chronic family support needs.

  • Builds relationships with Family Service managers and specialists and school-based leadership and staff to collaborate, develop, and implement plans for family services.

  • Demonstrates evidence-based approaches and performs other professional responsibilities, such participating in meetings with Family Services staff to develop and implement strength-based approaches for children and families in Head Start schools.

  • Develops and leads evidence-based training to internal and external partners around early childhood mental health, child development, and parent-child relationships.

  • Ensures and provides consultation to stakeholders to ensure compliance and understanding of Head Start mental health-related regulations.

  • Serves as a consultant to school-based staff on early childhood mental health and behavioral support issues, including trauma-informed and emotionally responsive educational practices.

  • Communicates with other agencies involved with children in Head Start classrooms following FERPA and confidentiality guidelines; and makes appropriate referrals for community resources. 

  • Serves on mental health committees and other appropriate committees within DCPS and across the DC community.

  • Participates in routine school visits to observe DCPS Head Start children for behavioral and/or mental health concerns.

  • Participates in the annual program self-evaluation; and contributes to the development of DCPS Head Start procedures, program proposals, and Community Assessment. 

  • Attends and participates in DCPS training, continuing education, and career and professional development opportunities; and reads and reviews regulations and other resources to keep abreast of current issues and trends related to early childhood mental health services. 

  • Completes and maintains all legally-required documentation associated with Head Start and mental health services.


  • Bachelor's degree and three to five years of related work experience.
  • Master's degree preferred.
  • DC Government, Department of Health Professional License, which must be renewed every two years by obtaining the required continuing education units: 1) Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) or 2) Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
  • Previous experience as a social worker or counselor in urban settings and/or school.
  • Knowledge of trauma-informed practices and deep understanding of the impact of chronic stress on child and family development.
  • Understanding of institutional racism and impacts on underserved families in Washington DC.
  • Experience working with low-income and culturally and linguistically diverse families.
  • Advanced computer skills, including Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Internet, and email.
  • Commitment to developing and maintaining relationships with a wide variety of school-based and central office stakeholders.
  • Excellent organizational skills, strategic planning skills, and oral and written communication skills.

DCPS Values

  • STUDENTS FIRST: We recognize students as whole children and put their needs first in everything we do.
  • COURAGE: We have the audacity to learn from our successes and failures, to try new things, and to lead the nation as a proof point of PK-12 success.
  • EQUITY: We work proactively to eliminate opportunity gaps by interrupting institutional bias and investing in effective strategies to ensure every student succeeds.
  • EXCELLENCE: We work with integrity and hold ourselves accountable for exemplary outcomes, service, and interactions.
  • TEAMWORK: We recognize that our greatest asset is our collective vision and ability to work collaboratively and authentically.
  • JOY: We enjoy our collective work and will enthusiastically celebrate our success and each other.


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