Review of 24 Head Start Grantees’ Compliance With Health and Safety Requirements


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, P.L. No.111-5 (Recovery Act), signed into law on February 17, 2009, included measures to modernize our Nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.

Title VI of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 established Head Start as a Federal discretionary grant program. The major program objectives include promoting school readiness and enhancing the social and cognitive development of low-income children by providing health, educational, nutritional, and social services. In 1994, the Head Start program was expanded to establish Early Head Start, which serves children from birth to 3 years of age. We refer collectively to both programs as “Head Start.” Within the Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Head Start, administers Head Start. In fiscal year (FY) 2009, Congress appropriated $7.1 billion to fund Head Start’s regular operations. The Recovery Act provided an additional $2.1 billion for Head Start during FYs 2009 and 2010. These funds were intended for activities such as expanding enrollment, funding cost-of-living wage increases for grantees, upgrading centers and classrooms, and bolstering training and technical assistance.

Pursuant to Federal Head Start regulations (45 CFR § 1304.53(a)(7)), Head Start grantees must provide for the maintenance, repair, safety, and security of all Head Start facilities. These regulations also specify that facilities used by Head Start grantees for regularly scheduled, center-based activities must comply with State and local licensing requirements. If State and local licensing standards are less stringent than the Head Start regulations or if no State licensing standards are applicable, grantees must ensure that their facilities comply with the “Head Start Program Performance Standards” related to health and safety (45 CFR § 1306.30(c)).

From May 2009 through October 2010, we conducted site visits and assessed health and safety compliance at 24 Head Start grantees that managed 175 facilities in 8 States.

Source: Office of Inspector General, Administration for Children and Families

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