Explore the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) around oral health. The HSPPS are the foundation of Head Start’s mission to deliver comprehensive, high-quality individualized services to support school readiness for children from low-income families. After a major revision, new standards were announced on Sept. 1, 2016. The summary below shows where oral health appears.
(a) A program must provide high-quality health, oral health, mental health, and nutrition services that are developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and that will support each child’s growth and school readiness.
(a) Source of health care.
(1) A program, within 30 calendar days after the child first attends the program or, for the home-based program option, receives a home visit, must consult with parents to determine whether each child has ongoing sources of continuous, accessible health care – provided by a health care professional that maintains the child’s ongoing health record and is not primarily a source of emergency or urgent care – and health insurance coverage.
(2) If the child does not have such a source of ongoing care and health insurance coverage or access to care through the Indian Health Service, the program must assist families in accessing a source of care and health insurance that will meet these criteria, as quickly as possible.
(b) Ensuring up-to-date child health status.
(1) Within 90 calendar days after the child first attends the program or, for the home-based program option, receives a home visit, with the exceptions noted in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, a program must:
(i) Obtain determinations from health care and oral health care professionals as to whether or not the child is up-to-date on a schedule of age appropriate preventive and primary medical and oral health care, based on: the well-child visits and dental periodicity schedules as prescribed by the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program of the Medicaid agency of the state in which they operate, immunization recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and any additional recommendations from the local Health Services Advisory Committee that are based on prevalent community health problems;
(ii) Assist parents with making arrangements to bring the child up-to-date as quickly as possible; and, if necessary, directly facilitate provision of health services to bring the child up-to-date with parent consent as described in §1302.41(b)(1).
(c) Ongoing care.
(1) A program must help parents continue to follow recommended schedules of well-child and oral health care.
(2) A program must implement periodic observations or other appropriate strategies for program staff and parents to identify any new or recurring developmental, medical, oral, or mental health concerns.
(3) A program must facilitate and monitor necessary oral health preventive care, treatment and follow-up, including topical fluoride treatments. In communities where there is a lack of adequate fluoride available through the water supply and for every child with moderate to severe tooth decay, a program must also facilitate fluoride supplements, and other necessary preventive measures, and further oral health treatment as recommended by the oral health professional.
(d) Extended follow-up care.
(1) A program must facilitate further diagnostic testing, evaluation, treatment, and follow-up plan, as appropriate, by a licensed or certified professional for each child with a health problem or developmental delay, such as elevated lead levels or abnormal hearing or vision results that may affect child’s development, learning, or behavior.
(2) A program must develop a system to track referrals and services provided and monitor the implementation of a follow-up plan to meet any treatment needs associated with a health, oral health, social and emotional, or developmental problem.
(3) A program must assist parents, as needed, in obtaining any prescribed medications, aids or equipment for medical and oral health conditions.
(e) Use of funds.
(2) A program may use program funds for professional medical and oral health services when no other source of funding is available. When program funds are used for such services, grantee and delegate agencies must have written documentation of their efforts to access other available sources of funding.
A program must promote effective oral health hygiene by ensuring all children with teeth are assisted by appropriate staff, or volunteers, if available, in brushing their teeth with toothpaste containing fluoride once daily
(a) Nutrition service requirements.
(2) Specifically, a program must:
(iii) Serve three- to five-year-olds meals and snacks that conform to USDA requirements in 7 CFR parts 210, 220, and 226, and are high in nutrients and low in fat, sugar, and salt;
(v) Ensure bottle-fed infants are never laid down to sleep with a bottle;
(ix) Make safe drinking water available to children during the program day.
(a) Parent collaboration. Programs must collaborate with parents to promote children’s health and well-being by providing medical, oral, nutrition and mental health education support services that are understandable to individuals, including individuals with low health literacy.
(1) Such collaboration must include opportunities for parents to:
(i) Learn about preventive medical and oral health care, emergency first aid, environmental hazards, and health and safety practices for the home including health and developmental consequences of tobacco products use and exposure to lead, and safe sleep;
(ii) Discuss their child’s nutritional status with staff, including the importance of physical activity, healthy eating, and the negative health consequences of sugar-sweetened beverages, and how to select and prepare nutritious foods that meet the family’s nutrition and food budget needs;
(2) A program must provide ongoing support to assist parents’ navigation through health systems to meet the general health and specifically identified needs of their children and must assist parents:
(i) In understanding how to access health insurance for themselves and their families, including information about private and public health insurance and designated enrollment periods;
(ii) In understanding the results of diagnostic and treatment procedures as well as plans for ongoing care; and,
(iii) In familiarizing their children with services they will receive while enrolled in the program and to enroll and participate in a system of ongoing family health care.
(b) A program must develop and implement a system of management, including ongoing training, oversight, correction and continuous improvement in accordance with §1302.102, that includes policies and practices to ensure all facilities, equipment and materials, background checks, safety training, safety and hygiene practices and administrative safety procedures are adequate to ensure child safety. This system must ensure:
(1) Facilities. All facilities where children are served, including areas for learning, playing, sleeping, toileting, and eating are, at a minimum:
(vi) Equipped with safety supplies that are readily accessible to staff, including, at a minimum, fully-equipped and up-to-date first aid kits and appropriate fire safety supplies;
(6) Hygiene practices. All staff systematically and routinely implement hygiene practices that at a minimum ensure:
(iii) Exposure to blood and body fluids are handled consistent with standards of the Occupational Safety Health Administration.
Community partnerships and coordination with other early childhood and education programs, 45 CFR § 1302.53
(a) Community partnerships.
(1) A program must establish ongoing collaborative relationships and partnerships with community organizations such as establishing joint agreements, procedures, or contracts and arranging for onsite delivery of services as appropriate, to facilitate access to community services that are responsive to children’s and families’ needs and family partnership goals, and community needs and resources, as determined by the community assessment.
(2) A program must establish necessary collaborative relationships and partnerships, with community organizations that may include:
(i) Health care providers, including child and adult mental health professionals, Medicaid managed care networks, dentists, other health professionals, nutritional service providers, providers of prenatal and postnatal support, and substance abuse treatment providers;
(c) A program must facilitate the ability of all enrolled pregnant women to access comprehensive services through referrals that, at a minimum, include nutritional counseling, food assistance, oral health care, mental health services, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and emergency shelter or transitional housing in cases of domestic violence.
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Audience: Teachers and Caregivers
Last Updated: April 26, 2023