Sec. 641 Designation of Head Start Agencies

Sec. 641. [42 U.S.C. 9836]

(a) AUTHORITY TO DESIGNATE.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary is authorized to designate as a Head Start agency any local public or private nonprofit agency,   including community-based and faith-based organizations, or for-profit agency, within a community, pursuant to the requirements of this section.

(2) INTERIM POLICY.—Notwithstanding paragraph (1), until such time as the Secretary develops and implements the system for designation renewal under this section, the  Secretary is authorized to designate as a Head Start agency, any local public or private nonprofit agency, including community-based and faith-based organizations, or for-profit agency, within a community, in the manner and process utilized by the Secretary prior to the enactment of the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007.

(b) APPLICATION FOR DESIGNATION RENEWAL.—To be considered for designation renewal, an entity shall submit an application to the Secretary, at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may require.

(c) SYSTEM FOR DESIGNATION RENEWAL.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall develop a system for designation renewal that integrates the recommendations of the expert panel convened under paragraph (2) to determine if a Head Start agency is delivering a high-quality and comprehensive Head Start program that meets the educational, health, nutritional, and social needs of the children and families it serves, and meets program and financial management requirements and standards described in section 641A(a)(1), based on—

(A) annual budget and fiscal management data;

(B) program reviews conducted under section 641A(c);

(C) annual audits required under section 647;

(D) classroom quality as measured under section 641A(c)(2)(F); and

(E) Program Information Reports.

(2) EXPERT PANEL.—Not later than 3 months after the date of enactment of the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, the Secretary shall convene an expert panel of 7 members to make recommendations to the Secretary on the   development of a transparent, reliable, and valid system for designation renewal.

(3) COMPOSITION OF EXPERT PANEL.—The Secretary, in convening such panel, shall appoint the following:

(A)(i) One member, who has demonstrated competency, as evidenced by training, expertise, and experience, in early childhood program accreditation.

(ii) One member, who has demonstrated competency (as so evidenced) in research on early childhood development.

(iii) One member, who has demonstrated competency (as so evidenced) in governance and finance of nonprofit organizations.

(iv) One member, who has demonstrated competency (as so evidenced) in delivery of services to populations of children with special needs and their families.

(v) One member, who has demonstrated competency (as so evidenced) in assessment and evaluation of programs serving young children.

(B) An employee from the Office of Head Start.

(C) An executive director of a Head Start agency.

(4) EXPERT PANEL REPORT.—Within 9 months after being convened by the Secretary, the expert panel shall issue a report to the Secretary that provides recommendations on a proposed system for designation renewal that takes into account the criteria in subparagraphs (A) through (E) of paragraph (1) to evaluate whether a Head Start agency is fulfilling its mission to deliver a high-quality and comprehensive Head Start program, including adequately meeting its governance, legal, and financial management requirements.

(5) PUBLIC COMMENT AND CONSIDERATION.—Not later than 3 months after receiving the report described in paragraph (4), the Secretary shall publish a notice describing a proposed system for designation renewal in the Federal Register, including a proposal for the transition to such system, providing at least 90 days for public comment. The Secretary shall review and consider public comments prior to finalizing the system for designation renewal described in this subsection.

(6) DESIGNATION RENEWAL SYSTEM.—Not later than 12 months after publishing a notice describing the proposed system under paragraph (5), the Secretary shall implement the system for designation renewal and use that system to determine—

(A) whether a Head Start grantee is successfully delivering a high-quality and comprehensive Head Start program; and

(B) whether the grantee has any unresolved deficiencies found during the last triennial review under section 641A(c).

(7) IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DESIGNATION RENEWAL SYSTEM.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—A grantee who is determined under such system—

(i) to be delivering a high-quality and comprehensive Head Start program shall be designated (consistent with section 643) as a Head Start agency for the period of 5 years described in section 638;

(ii) to not be delivering a high-quality and comprehensive Head Start program shall be subject to an open competition as described in subsection (d); and

(iii) in the case of an Indian Head Start agency, to not be delivering a high-quality and comprehensive Head Start program shall (notwithstanding clause (ii)) be subject to the requirements of subparagraph (B).

(B) TRIBAL GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION AND REEVALUATION.—

On making a determination described in subparagraph (A)(iii), the Secretary shall engage in government-to-government  consultation with the appropriate tribal government or governments for the purpose of establishing a plan to improve the quality of Head Start programs operated by the Indian Head Start agency. Such plan shall be established and implemented within 6 months after the Secretary’s determination. Not more than 6 months after the implementation of that plan, the Secretary shall reevaluate the performance of the Indian Head Start agency. If the Indian Head Start agency is still not delivering a high-quality and comprehensive Head Start program, the Secretary shall conduct an open competition as described in subsection (d), subject to the limitations described in subsection (e).

(8) TRANSPARENCY, RELIABILITY, AND VALIDITY.—The Secretary shall ensure the system for designation renewal is fair, consistent, and transparent and is applied in a manner that renews designations, in a timely manner, grantees as Head Start agencies for periods of 5 years if such grantees are delivering high-quality and comprehensive Head Start programs. The Secretary shall periodically evaluate whether the criteria of the system are being applied in a manner that is transparent, reliable, and valid.

(9) TRANSITION.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Each Head Start agency shall be reviewed under the system for designation renewal described in paragraph (6), not later than 3 years after the implementation of such system.

(B) LIMITATION.—A Head Start agency shall not be subject to the requirements of the system for designation renewal prior to 18 months after the date of enactment of the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007.

(C) SCHEDULE.—The Secretary shall establish and implement a schedule for reviewing each Head Start agency under the system for designation renewal described in paragraph (6), consistent with subparagraphs (A) and (B).

(10) REPORTS TO CONGRESS.—The Secretary shall—

(A) make available to the Committee on Education and Labor of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate the report described in paragraph (4);

(B) concurrently with publishing a notice in the Federal Register as described in paragraph (5), provide a report to the Committee on Education and Labor of the House of  Representatives and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate that provides a detailed description of the proposed system described in paragraph (5), including a clear rationale for any differences between the proposed system and the recommendations of the expert panel, if any such differences exist; and

(C) prior to implementing the system for designation renewal, provide a report to the Committee on Education and Labor of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate—

(i) summarizing the public comment on the proposed system and the Secretary’s response to such comment; and 

(ii) describing the final system for designation renewal and the plans for implementation of such system.

(d) DESIGNATION WHEN NO ENTITY IS RENEWED.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—If no entity in a community is determined to be successfully delivering a high-quality and comprehensive Head Start program, as specified in subsection (c), the Secretary shall, after conducting an open competition, designate for a 5-year period a Head Start agency from among qualified applicants in such community.

(2) CONSIDERATIONS FOR DESIGNATION.—In selecting from among qualified applicants for designation as a Head Start agency, the Secretary shall consider the effectiveness of each such applicant to provide Head Start services, based on—

(A) any past performance of such applicant in providing services comparable to Head Start services, including how effectively such applicant provided such comparable services;

(B) the plan of such applicant to provide comprehensive health, educational, nutritional, social, and other services needed to aid participating children in attaining their full potential, and to prepare children to succeed in school;

(C) the plan of such applicant to attract and retain qualified staff capable of delivering, including implementing, a high-quality and comprehensive program, including the ability to carry out a research based curriculum aligned with the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework and, as appropriate, State early learning standards;

(D) the ability of such applicant to maintain child-to-teacher ratios and family service worker caseloads that reflect best practices and are tied to high-quality service delivery;

(E) the capacity of such applicant to serve eligible children with—

(i) curricula that are based on scientifically valid research, that are developmentally appropriate, and that promote the school readiness of children participating in the program involved; and

(ii) teaching practices that are based, as appropriate, on scientifically valid research, that are developmentally appropriate, and that promote the school readiness of children participating in the program involved;

(F) the plan of such applicant to meet standards described in section 641A(a)(1), with particular attention to the standards described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of such section;

(G) the proposed budget of the applicant and plan of such applicant to maintain strong fiscal controls and cost effective fiscal management;

(H) the plan of such applicant to coordinate and collaborate with other public or private entities providing early childhood education and development programs and services for young children in the community involved, including—

(i) programs implementing grant agreements under the Early Reading First and Even Start programs under subparts 2 and 3 of part B of title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6371 et seq., 6381 et seq.);

(ii) other preschool programs under title I of that Act (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.);

(iii) programs under section 619 and part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1419, 1431 et seq.);

(iv) State pre kindergarten programs;

(v) child care programs;

(vi) the educational programs that the children in the Head Start program involved will enter at the age of compulsory school attendance; and

(vii) local entities, such as a public or school library, for—

(I) conducting reading readiness programs;

(II) developing innovative programs to excite children about the world of books, including providing fresh books in the Head Start classroom;

(III) assisting in literacy training for Head Start teachers; or

(IV) supporting parents and other caregivers in literacy efforts;

(I) the plan of such applicant to coordinate the Head  Start program that the applicant proposes to carry out, with public and private entities that are willing to commit resources to assist the Head Start program in meeting its program needs;

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(J) the plan of such applicant—

(i) to facilitate the involvement of parents (including grandparents and kinship caregivers, as appropriate) of children participating in the proposed Head Start program, in activities (at home and, if practicable, at the location of the Head Start program) designed to help such parents become full partners in the education of their children;

(ii) to afford such parents the opportunity to participate in the development and overall conduct of the program at the local level, including transportation assistance, as appropriate;

(iii) to offer (directly or through referral to local entities, such as entities carrying out Even Start programs under subpart 3 of part B of title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6381 et seq.), public and school libraries, and entities carrying out family support programs) to such parents—

(I) family literacy services; and

(II) parenting skills training;

(iv) to offer to parents of participating children substance abuse counseling (either directly or through referral to local entities), if needed, including information on the effect of drug exposure on infants and fetal alcohol syndrome;

(v) at the option of such applicant, to offer (directly or through referral to local entities) to such parents—

(I) training in basic child development (including cognitive, social, and emotional development);

(II) assistance in developing literacy and communication skills;

(III) opportunities to share experiences with other parents (including parent-mentor relationships);

(IV) regular in-home visitation;

(V) health services, including information on maternal depression; or

(VI) any other activity designed to help such parents become full partners in the education of their children;

(vi) to provide, with respect to each participating family, a family needs assessment that includes consultation with such parents (including foster parents, grandparents, and kinship caregivers, where applicable), in a manner and language that such parents can understand, to the extent practicable, about the benefits of parent involvement and about the activities described in this subparagraph in which such parents may choose to become involved (taking into consideration their specific family needs, work schedules, and other responsibilities); and

(vii) to extend outreach to fathers (including father figures), in appropriate cases, in order to strengthen the role of those fathers in families, in the education of young children, and in the Head Start program, by working directly with the fathers through activities such as—

(I) in appropriate cases, including the fathers in home visits and providing opportunities for direct father-child interactions; and

(II) targeting increased male participation in the conduct of the program;

(K) the plan of such applicant to meet the needs of limited English proficient children and their families, including procedures to identify such children, plans to provide trained personnel, and plans to provide services to assist the children in making progress toward the acquisition of the English language, while making meaningful progress in attaining the knowledge, skills, abilities, and development described in section 641A(a)(1)(B);

(L) the plan of such applicant to meet the diverse needs of the population served;

(M) the plan of such applicant who chooses to assist younger siblings of children who will participate in the Head Start program to obtain health services from other sources;

(N) the plan of such applicant to meet the needs of children with disabilities, including procedures to identify such children, procedures for referral of such children for evaluation to State or local agencies providing services under section 619 or part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1419, 1431 et seq.), and plans for collaboration with those State or local agencies;

(O) the plan of such applicant to meet the needs of homeless children, including transportation needs, and the needs of children in foster care; and

(P) other factors related to the requirements of this subchapter.

(3) PRIORITY.—In selecting from among qualified applicants for designation as a Head Start agency, the Secretary shall give priority to applicants that have demonstrated capacity in providing effective, comprehensive, and well-coordinated early childhood education and development services and programs to children and their families.

(e) PROHIBITION AGAINST NON-INDIAN HEAD START AGENCY RECEIVING A GRANT FOR AN INDIAN HEAD START PROGRAM.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except as provided in paragraph (2), under no condition may a non-Indian Head Start agency receive a grant to carry out an Indian Head Start program.

(2) EXCEPTION.—In a community in which there is no Indian Head Start agency available for designation to carry out an Indian Head Start program, a non-Indian Head Start agency may receive a grant to carry out an Indian Head Start program but only until such time as an Indian Head Start agency in such community becomes available and is designated pursuant to this section.

(f) INTERIM PROVIDER.—If no agency in a community is designated under subsection (d), and there is no qualified applicant in the community, the Secretary shall designate a qualified agency to carry out the Head Start program in the community on an interim basis until a qualified applicant from the community is designated under subsection (d).

(g) PARENT AND COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION.—The Secretary shall require that the practice of significantly involving parents and community residents in the area affected by the program involved, in the selection of Head Start agencies, be continued.

(h) COMMUNITY.—For purposes of this subchapter, a  community may be a city, county, or multicity or multicounty unit within a State, an Indian reservation (including Indians in any off-reservation area designated by an appropriate tribal government in consultation with the Secretary), or a   neighborhood or other area (irrespective of boundaries or political subdivisions) that provides a suitable organizational base and possesses the commonality of interest needed to operate a Head Start program.