New Head Start Rule Aims to Increase Quality

Nov 16, 2011

By Stephanie Schmit

Last week President Obama, along with the Office of Head Start, announced a new rule that amends the current Head Start Program Regulations and aims to improve the quality of Head Start programs all across the country. The change, announced at a Head Start Center in Yeadon, Penn., makes programs accountable for the quality of their services and makes funding competitive.

The new rule establishes a system of designation renewal for Head Start and Early Head Start grantees that will evaluate them on the following seven conditions:

  • One or more deficiencies under section 641A(c)(1)(A), (C), or (D) of the Act.
  • Failure to establish school readiness
  • Failure to meet minimum thresholds on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS): Pre-K domains
  • Revocation of a license to operate a center or program
  • Suspension from the program
  • Debarment from receiving Federal or State funds or disqualified from the Child and Adult Care Food Program
  • One or more material weaknesses or at risk for failing to function as a going concern

Under the rule, if a grantee has a deficiency in any of the aforementioned categories, they will be considered for re-competition where providers in the community can compete for the Head Start funds. The first grantees eligible for re-competition will be notified in January 2012. For the grantees that will be notified in January, evaluation is retrospective to 2009 and only five of the seven conditions will be considered. Grantees are not yet expected to meet the school readiness or CLASS thresholds.

The establishment of a designation renewal system for Head Start was required by the 2007 reauthorization of Head Start and is one way the Office of Head Start is seeking to improve and maintain the quality of this critically important preschool program for our countries' poor children and their families.

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