C - Education and Early Childhood Development

OHS – PC – C – 001

Can the Pledge of Allegiance be part of the daily classroom routine?

Recitation of the pledge is neither forbidden nor required by Head Start law or regulations and is a local program decision.

Informal Guidance

July 11, 2006

OHS – PC – C – 002

Must a Head Start child in the child’s second year of Head Start be re-screened for developmental concerns?

No. A child must receive the initial screening for developmental, sensory and behavioral concerns “within 45 days of the child’s entry into the program” (45 CFR 1304.20.b.1). Thereafter, the Head Start program must conduct ongoing assessments of each child's development throughout the child’s enrollment (See 45 CFR 1304.21(c)(2) and 45 CFR 1304.3(a)(1). The program must demonstrate that it conducts on-going assessments of each child’s development, including those returning for a second or third program year in Head Start.

For such developmental domains of language, cognition, and mental health/behavioral, a program’s ongoing assessment tools should be designed to help staff decide whether a child’s development remains “on-track” or should be referred for a professional evaluation. To accomplish this, a program’s ongoing assessment procedures may include use of standardized screening measures. Given this ongoing assessment, grantees and delegates would not be required to repeat the “initial screenings” administered to children upon entry to the program.

For sensory domains such as vision and hearing, screening procedures should be re-administered on the periodicity schedule required by State EPSDT schedule, or more frequently if recommended by the Health Services Advisory Committee.


45 CFR 1304.20(b)(1); 45 CFR 1304.20(d); 45 CFR 1304.21(c)(2) ; 45 CFR 1304.3(a)(1)

May 1, 2007

OHS – PC – C – 003

Is there a Head Start requirement that the person conducting screening for children’s language development be a certified speech and language pathologist?

No. Screening procedures can usually be conducted by persons who are trained to administer a specific screening instrument and are experienced working with young children. The training needed to successfully administer a standardized screening instrument will be described in the instrument’s administration manual.

The purpose of screening is to identify any children who may require a closer look at their development through formal evaluation. Formal evaluations, however, must be conducted by certified or licensed professionals; speech and language pathologists would likely evaluate a child whose screening results indicated language concerns.

Informal Guidance

May 01, 2007

OHS – PC – C – 004

Is there a policy on the length of time that teachers in a center-based program should spend on a home visit? Similarly, is there a policy on the length of time of a socialization activity in a home-based program?

There are no mandated time requirements for either of the two activities noted above.

However, when teachers schedule the two required home visits to each enrolled child’s family, they should allow sufficient time to learn about the child's family and allow adequate time for parents to ask questions about the program and inquire about their child's participation. While it seems reasonable that most home visits conducted by teachers could be done in sixty - ninety minutes, teachers need to be responsive and flexible to families' needs during the time of the visit.

When scheduling the required socialization activities for children enrolled in home-based programs (at least two such activities per month must be provided) programs are encouraged to schedule these for a period of approximately 3 ½ hours. This will afford the grantee ample time to plan and implement meaningful activities for both the parents and children.

Programs are encouraged to discuss their plans to meet these requirements with their Policy Council (Committee).

Informal Guidance

May 23, 2007

OHS – PC – C – 005

When does the 45 day requirement for completing screenings begin?

In accordance with 45 CFR 1304.20(b), Head Start programs, in collaboration with parents, are required to begin completing screenings within 45 days of the child’s entry into the program. Entry into the program is defined as the first day the child enters the Head Start classroom., or begins to participate in a home based or family child care program.


45 CFR 1304.20(b)

July 13, 2007

OHS – PC – C – 006

What is the Office of Head Start's stance on having the children go outside everyday, even in weather that is really cold or hot?

The Head Start Program Performance Standard (1304.21(a)(5)(i)) requires that grantees provide "sufficient time, indoor and outdoor space, equipment, materials and adult guidance... [to] support the development of gross motor skills". There is not sufficient space in most classrooms for the types of equipment, materials and experiences that children need in the area of gross motor development and, therefore, most programs will need to take their children outdoors regularly. The decision about how frequently and for how long children play outside and the decision about whether on certain days children should stay indoors is one local programs need to make. Grantees are encouraged to establish policies on extreme heat and cold thresholds and on such health risks as lightning or poor air quality. Grantees should consider that some children; i.e. an asthmatic child, may have different needs in terms of, for example, air quality than other children in the program and individual children’s needs should be appropriately addressed.

Informal Guidance

August 8, 2007

OHS – PC – C – 007

Can time-out be used in a Head Start classroom? If so, are there recommendations about its appropriate use?

Time-out procedures can be effective and appropriate for use in a Head Start classroom. The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) has produced for the Office of Head Start and the Child Care Bureau a "What Works Brief" specifically addressing this topic. As described in that brief, there are benefits of, and limits to, the use of the time out procedure:

"Time-out is only effective when used in the context of a comprehensive approach to behavior support that is designed to teach, nurture, and encourage positive social behaviors. Time-out should be used only by well-trained teachers and caregivers when less intrusive discipline procedures have been tried and deemed unsuccessful and only in combination with positive procedures designed to teach new skills and prevent challenging behaviors from occurring."


"Although time-out has been demonstrated to be effective in some situations, it should not be overused and should be reserved for high-intensity behaviors such as aggression toward peers and adults and destructive behavior. Because of a lack of evidence to support its use with very young children as well as the research on the social-emotional development of very young children, the use of time-out with infants and young toddlers is not recommended."

Programs utilizing time-out procedures are reminded that children can never be left unsupervised.

The complete "What Works Brief: The Role of Time-Out in a Comprehensive Approach for Addressing Challenging Behaviors of Preschool Children" can be found here:

In English: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/csefel/briefs/wwb14.html

In Spanish: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/csefel/briefs/wwb14-sp.html

Informal Guidance

August 8, 2007

OHS – PC – C – 008

Are Head Start programs required to provide field trips to the children?

No. However, field trips can often be valuable activities when they are linked to the curriculum. When field trips are provided, they should be designed and implemented to address educational and socialization objectives for Head Start children.

Informal Guidance

July 15, 2008

This is a Historical Document.