Nancy Topping-Tailby



A licensed social worker and early childhood mental health clinician, Nancy Topping-Tailby is a dedicated child health and safety advocate with more than 30 years of experience supporting Head Start programs, community health initiatives, and behavioral health services.

A supporter of numerous health initiatives, including those dedicated to improving healthy outcomes for new mothers and infants, Topping-Tailby has also led foundation-supported efforts to improve the availability and delivery of primary preventive oral health care. She brings a deep appreciation for the importance of comprehensive health and education services in supporting children’s school readiness. 

Before joining EDC, Topping-Tailby was executive director of the Massachusetts Head Start Association and program director of an Early Head Start and Head Start program in Southeastern Massachusetts. She is a founding member of the Massachusetts Association for Infant Mental Health (MassAIMH–Zero-to-Six) and a member of the National Association of Social Workers. 

Topping-Tailby holds an MSW from Smith College.

“Children’s social and emotional development is important for them to have rich, productive lives. Since its inception, Head Start has emphasized comprehensive services to help children get ready for school, rather than just a narrow academic focus.”

Selected Publications

Callanan, D., Sacheti, A., & Topping-Tailby, N. (2011). Happy, healthy teeth! A guide to children’s dental health. Martinsville, IN: Fideli Publishing.

Selected Resources


This online guide provides Head Start and Early Head Start home visitors with effective strategies to assess, promote, and model good hygiene during regular meetings with families.


This tool helps Head Start programs better understand the link between their school readiness goals and their health service plans.


To promote optimal development, each Head Start program plans, implements, and evaluates actions that provide safe environments for children to be active and competent learners.

Resource libraries

Drawing on a decade of research, EDC analyzed the impact of partnerships among early childhood education programs on the accessibility and quality of services for young children—particularly childr