Obama’s New Rules for Head Start

Image Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

Continuing to cultivate the image of a president-in-action, President Obama will  today announce new rules for “lower performing” recipients of federal Head Start grants for early childhood development.

The administration will for the first time require service providers it deems deficient to “recompete” for taxpayer dollars instead of receiving them automatically, a senior official said. The step is aimed at improving accountability and quality of the Head Start program, which is run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The new rules will apply to an estimated one-third of the 1,600 Head Start and Early Head Start programs nationwide, which will undergo agency evaluations based on classroom visits and financial reviews, an administration official said. Programs that have lost their state or local licenses to operate and those that show  fiscal or management problems will also be required to reapply for federal funding under the changes announced today.

The administration says all Head Start programs will automatically undergo evaluation every five years to remain eligible for continued funding.

Obama will visit the Yeadon Regional Head Start Center outside Philadelphia to formally announce the new policy, which he will tout as part of his campaign to take action taken without congressional approval. Administration officials say the move comes after congressional Republicans failed to approve reforms for  Head Start  and proposed cutting its overall funding.

Head Start serves nearly 1 million infants, toddlers and preschoolers across the country in mostly low-income communities, according to HHS.

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