Head Start Policy and Regulations

1302.90 Personnel policies.

(a) Establishing personnel policies and procedures. A program must establish written personnel policies and procedures that are approved by the governing body and policy council or policy committee and that are available to all staff.

(b) Background checks and selection procedures. (1) Before a person is hired, directly or through contract, including transportation staff and contractors, a program must conduct an interview, verify references, conduct a sex offender registry check and obtain one of the following:

(i) State or tribal criminal history records, including fingerprint checks; or,

(ii) Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history records, including fingerprint checks.

(2) A program has 90 days after an employee is hired to complete the background check process by obtaining:

(i) Whichever check listed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section was not obtained prior to the date of hire; and,

(ii) Child abuse and neglect state registry check, if available.

(3) A program must review the information found in each employment application and complete background check to assess the relevancy of any issue uncovered by the complete background check including any arrest, pending criminal charge, or conviction and must use Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) disqualification factors described in 42 U.S.C. 9858f(c)(1)(D) and 42 U.S.C. 9858f(h)(1) or tribal disqualifications factors to determine whether the prospective employee can be hired or the current employee must be terminated.

(4) A program must ensure a newly hired employee, consultant, or contractor does not have unsupervised access to children until the complete background check process described in paragraphs (b)(1) through (3) of this section is complete.

(5) A program must conduct the complete background check for each employee, consultant, or contractor at least once every five years which must include each of the four checks listed in paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section, and review and make employment decisions based on the information as described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, unless the program can demonstrate to the responsible HHS official that it has a more stringent system in place that will ensure child safety.

(6) A program must consider current and former program parents for employment vacancies for which such parents apply and are qualified.

(c) Standards of conduct. (1) A program must ensure all staff, consultants, contractors, and volunteers abide by the program’s standards of conduct that:

(i) Ensure staff, consultants, contractors, and volunteers implement positive strategies to support children’s well-being and prevent and address challenging behavior;

(ii) Ensure staff, consultants, contractors, and volunteers do not maltreat or endanger the health or safety of children, including, at a minimum, that staff must not:

(A) Use corporal punishment;

(B) Use isolation to discipline a child;

(C) Bind or tie a child to restrict movement or tape a child’s mouth;

(D) Use or withhold food as a punishment or reward;

(E) Use toilet learning/training methods that punish, demean, or humiliate a child;

(F) Use any form of emotional abuse, including public or private humiliation, rejecting, terrorizing, extended ignoring, or corrupting a child;

(G) Physically abuse a child;

(H) Use any form of verbal abuse, including profane, sarcastic language, threats, or derogatory remarks about the child or child’s family; or,

(I) Use physical activity or outdoor time as a punishment or reward;

(iii) Ensure staff, consultants, contractors, and volunteers respect and promote the unique identity of each child and family and do not stereotype on any basis, including gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or family composition;

(iv) Require staff, consultants, contractors, and volunteers to comply with program confidentiality policies concerning personally identifiable information about children, families, and other staff members in accordance with subpart C of part 1303 of this chapter and applicable federal, state, local, and tribal laws; and,

(v) Ensure no child is left alone or unsupervised by staff, consultants, contractors, or volunteers while under their care.

(2) Personnel policies and procedures must include appropriate penalties for staff, consultants, and volunteers who violate the standards of conduct.

(d) Communication with dual language learners and their families. (1) A program must ensure staff and program consultants or contractors are familiar with the ethnic backgrounds and heritages of families in the program and are able to serve and effectively communicate, either directly or through interpretation and translation, with children who are dual language learners and to the extent feasible, with families with limited English proficiency.

(2) If a majority of children in a class or home-based program speak the same language, at least one class staff member or home visitor must speak such language.