Sec. 641A. [42 U.S.C. 9836A]
(1) CONTENT OF STANDARDS- The Secretary shall modify, as necessary, program performance standards by regulation applicable to Head Start agencies and programs under this subchapter, including--
(A) performance standards with respect to services required to be provided, including health, parental involvement, nutritional, and social services, transition activities described in section 642A, and other services;
(B) scientifically based and developmentally appropriate education performance standards related to school readiness that are based on the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework to ensure that the children participating in the program, at a minimum, develop and demonstrate--
(i) language knowledge and skills, including oral language and listening comprehension;
(ii) literacy knowledge and skills, including phonological awareness, print awareness and skills, and alphabetic knowledge;
(iii) mathematics knowledge and skills;
(iv) science knowledge and skills;
(v) cognitive abilities related to academic achievement and child development;
(vi) approaches to learning related to child development and early learning;
(vii) social and emotional development related to early learning, school success, and social problem solving;
(viii) abilities in creative arts;
(ix) physical development; and
(x) in the case of limited English proficient children, progress toward acquisition of the English language while making meaningful progress in attaining the knowledge, skills, abilities, and development described in clauses (i) through (ix), including progress made through the use of culturally and linguistically appropriate instructional services;
(C) administrative and financial management standards;
(D) standards relating to the condition and location of facilities (including indoor air quality assessment standards, where appropriate) for such agencies, and programs, including regulations that require that the facilities used by Head Start agencies (including Early Head Start agencies and any delegate agencies) for regularly scheduled center-based and combination program option classroom activities--
(i) shall meet or exceed State and local requirements concerning licensing for such facilities; and
(ii) shall be accessible by State and local authorities for purposes of monitoring and ensuring compliance, unless State or local laws prohibit such access; and
(E) such other standards as the Secretary finds to be appropriate.
(2) CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING STANDARDS- In developing any modifications to standards required under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall--
(A) consult with experts in the fields of child development, early childhood education, child health care, family services (including linguistically and culturally appropriate services to non-English speaking children and their families), administration, and financial management, and with persons with experience in the operation of Head Start programs;
(B) take into consideration--
(i) past experience with use of the standards in effect under this subchapter on the date of enactment of the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007;
(ii) changes over the period since October 27, 1998, in the circumstances and problems typically facing children and families served by Head Start agencies;
(iii) recommendations from the study on Developmental Outcomes and Assessments for Young Children by the National Academy of Sciences, consistent with section 649(j);
(iv) developments concerning research-based practices with respect to early childhood education and development, children with disabilities, homeless children, children in foster care, and family services, and best practices with respect to program administration and financial management;
(v) projected needs of an expanding Head Start program;
(vi) guidelines and standards that promote child health services and physical development, including participation in outdoor activity that supports children's motor development and overall health and nutrition;
(vii) changes in the characteristics of the population of children who are eligible to participate in Head Start programs, including country of origin, language background, and family structure of such children, and changes in the population and number of such children who are in foster care or are homeless children;
(viii) mechanisms to ensure that children participating in Head Start programs make a successful transition to the schools that the children will be attending;
(ix) the need for Head Start agencies to maintain regular communications with parents, including conducting periodic meetings to discuss the progress of individual children in Head Start programs; and
(x) the unique challenges faced by individual programs, including those programs that are seasonal or short term and those programs that serve rural populations;
(C)(i) review and revise as necessary the standards in effect under this subsection; and
(ii) ensure that any such revisions in the standards will not result in the elimination of or any reduction in quality, scope, or types of health, educational, parental involvement, nutritional, social, or other services required to be provided under such standards as in effect on the date of enactment of the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007; and
(D) consult with Indian tribes, including Alaska Natives, experts in Indian, including Alaska Native, early childhood education and development, linguists, and the National Indian Head Start Directors Association on the review and promulgation of standards under paragraph (1) (including standards for language acquisition and school readiness).
(3) STANDARDS RELATING TO OBLIGATIONS TO DELEGATE AGENCIES- In developing any modifications to standards under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall describe the obligations of a Head Start agency to a delegate agency to which the Head Start agency has delegated responsibility for providing services under this subchapter.
(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary, in consultation with representatives of Head Start agencies and with experts in the fields of early childhood education and development, family services, and program management, shall use the study on Developmental Outcomes and Assessments for Young Children by the National Academy of Sciences and other relevant research to inform, revise, and provide guidance to Head Start agencies for utilizing, scientifically based measures that support, as appropriate--
(A) classroom instructional practices;
(B) identification of children with special needs;
(C) program evaluation; and
(D) administrative and financial management practices.
(2) CHARACTERISTICS OF MEASURES- The measures under this subsection shall--
(A) be developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate for the population served;
(B) be reviewed periodically, based on advances in the science of early childhood development;
(C) be consistent with relevant, nationally recognized professional and technical standards related to the assessment of young children;
(D) be valid and reliable in the language in which they are administered;
(E) be administered by staff with appropriate training for such administration;
(F) provide for appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities and children who are limited English proficient;
(G) be high-quality research-based measures that have been demonstrated to assist with the purposes for which they were devised; and
(H) be adaptable, as appropriate, for use in the self-assessment of Head Start agencies, including in the evaluation of administrative and financial management practices.
(3) USE OF MEASURES; LIMITATIONS ON USE-
(A) USE- The measures shall be designed, as appropriate, for the purpose of--
(i) helping to develop the skills, knowledge, abilities, and development described in subsection (a)(1)(B) of children participating in Head Start programs, with an emphasis on measuring skills that scientifically valid research has demonstrated are related to children's school readiness and later success in school;
(ii) improving classroom practices, including reviewing children's strengths and weaknesses and individualizing instruction to better meet the needs of the children involved;
(iii) identifying the special needs of children; and
(iv) improving overall program performance in order to help programs identify problem areas that may require additional training and technical assistance resources.
(B) LIMITATIONS- Such measures shall not be used to exclude children from Head Start programs.
(A) IN GENERAL- The Secretary, through regulation, shall ensure the confidentiality of any personally identifiable data, information, and records collected or maintained under this subchapter by the Secretary and any Head Start agency. Such regulations shall provide the policies, protections, and rights equivalent to those provided to a parent, student, or educational agency or institution under section 444 of the General Education Provisions Act (20 U.S.C. 1232g).
(B) PROHIBITION ON NATIONWIDE DATABASE- Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to authorize the development of a nationwide database of personally identifiable data, information, or records on children resulting from the use of measures under this subsection.
(5) SPECIAL RULE-
(A) PROHIBITION- The use of assessment items and data on any assessment authorized under this subchapter by any agent of the Federal Government is prohibited for the purposes of--
(i) ranking, comparing, or otherwise evaluating individual children for purposes other than research, training, or technical assistance; and
(ii) providing rewards or sanctions for individual children or teachers.
(B) RESULTS- The Secretary shall not use the results of a single assessment as the sole method for assessing program effectiveness or making agency funding determinations at the national, regional, or local level under this subchapter.
(c) Monitoring of Local Agencies and Programs-
(1) IN GENERAL- To determine whether Head Start agencies meet standards described in subsection (a)(1) established under this subchapter with respect to program, administrative, financial management, and other requirements, and in order to help the programs identify areas for improvement and areas of strength as part of their ongoing self-assessment process, the Secretary shall conduct the following reviews of Head Start agencies, including the Head Start programs operated by such agencies:
(A) A full review, including the use of a risk-based assessment approach, of each such agency at least once during each 3-year period.
(B) A review of each newly designated Head Start agency immediately after the completion of the first year such agency carries out a Head Start program.
(C) Follow up reviews, including--
(i) return visits to Head Start agencies with 1 or more findings of deficiencies, not later than 6 months after the Secretary provides notification of such findings, or not later than 12 months after such notification if the Secretary determines that additional time is necessary for an agency to address such a deficiency prior to the review; and
(ii) a review of Head Start agencies with significant areas of noncompliance.
(D) Other reviews, including unannounced site inspections of Head Start centers, as appropriate.
(2) CONDUCT OF REVIEWS- The Secretary shall ensure that reviews described in subparagraphs (A) through (C) of paragraph (1)--
(A) are conducted by review teams that--
(i) include individuals who are knowledgeable about Head Start programs and, to the maximum extent practicable, individuals who are knowledgeable about--
(I) other early childhood education and development programs, personnel management, financial accountability, and systems development and monitoring; and
(II) the diverse (including linguistic and cultural) needs of eligible children (including children with disabilities, homeless children, children in foster care, and limited English proficient children) and their families;
(ii) include, to the maximum extent practicable, current or former employees of the Department of Health and Human Services who are knowledgeable about Head Start programs; and
(iii) shall receive periodic training to ensure quality and consistency across reviews;
(B) include as part of the reviews, a review and assessment of program strengths and areas in need of improvement;
(C) include as part of the reviews, a review and assessment of whether programs have adequately addressed population and community needs (including those of limited English proficient children and children of migrant or seasonal farmworker families);
(D) include as part of the reviews, an assessment of the extent to which the programs address the communitywide strategic planning and needs assessment described in section 640(g)(1)(C);
(E) include information on the innovative and effective efforts of the Head Start agencies to collaborate with the entities providing early childhood and development services or programs in the community and any barriers to such collaboration that the agencies encounter;
(F) include as part of the reviews, a valid and reliable research-based observational instrument, implemented by qualified individuals with demonstrated reliability, that assesses classroom quality, including assessing multiple dimensions of teacher-child interactions that are linked to positive child development and later achievement;
(G) are conducted in a manner that evaluates program performance, quality, and overall operations with consistency and objectivity, are based on a transparent and reliable system of review, and are conducted in a manner that includes periodic interrater reliability checks, to ensure quality and consistency, across and within regions, of the reviews and of noncompliance and deficiency determinations;
(H) in the case of reviews of Early Head Start agencies and programs, are conducted by a review team that includes individuals who are knowledgeable about the development of infants and toddlers;
(I) include as part of the reviews a protocol for fiscal management that shall be used to assess compliance with program requirements for--
(i) using Federal funds appropriately;
(ii) using Federal funds specifically to purchase property (consistent with section 644(f)) and to compensate personnel;
(iii) securing and using qualified financial officer support; and
(iv) reporting financial information and implementing appropriate internal controls to safeguard Federal funds;
(J) include as part of the reviews of the programs, a review and assessment of whether the programs are in conformity with the eligibility requirements under section 645(a)(1), including regulations promulgated under such section and whether the programs have met the requirements for the outreach and enrollment policies and procedures, and selection criteria, in such section, for the participation of children in programs assisted under this subchapter;
(K) include as part of the reviews, a review and assessment of whether agencies have adequately addressed the needs of children with disabilities, including whether the agencies involved have met the 10 percent minimum enrollment requirement specified in section 640(d) and whether the agencies have made sufficient efforts to collaborate with State and 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
(L) include as part of the reviews, a review and assessment of child outcomes and performance as they relate to agency-determined school readiness goals described in subsection (g)(2), consistent with subsection (b)(5).
(3) STANDARDS RELATING TO OBLIGATIONS TO DELEGATE AGENCIES- In conducting a review described in paragraph (1)(A) of a Head Start agency, the Secretary shall determine whether the agency complies with the obligations described in subsection (a)(3). The Secretary shall consider such compliance in determining whether to renew financial assistance to the Head Start agency under this subchapter.
(4) USE OF REVIEW FINDINGS- The findings of a review described in paragraph (1) of a Head Start agency shall, at a minimum--
(A) be presented to the agency in a timely, transparent, and uniform manner that conveys information of program strengths and weaknesses and assists with program improvement; and
(B) be used by the agency to inform the development and implementation of its plan for training and technical assistance.
(d) Evaluations and Corrective Action for Delegate Agencies-
(1) PROCEDURES- Each Head Start agency shall establish, subject to paragraph (4), procedures relating to its delegate agencies, including--
(A) procedures for evaluating delegate agencies;
(B) procedures for defunding delegate agencies; and
(C) procedures for a delegate agency to appeal a defunding decision.
(2) EVALUATION- Each Head Start agency--
(A) shall evaluate its delegate agencies using the procedures established under this subsection; and
(B) shall inform the delegate agencies of the deficiencies identified through the evaluation that are required to be corrected.
(3) REMEDIES TO ENSURE CORRECTIVE ACTIONS- In the event that the Head Start agency identifies a deficiency for a delegate agency through the evaluation, the Head Start agency shall take action, which may include--
(A) initiating procedures to terminate the designation of the agency unless the agency corrects the deficiency;
(B) conducting monthly monitoring visits to such delegate agency until all deficiencies are corrected or the Head Start agency decides to defund such delegate agency; and
(C) releasing funds to such delegate agency--
(i) only as reimbursements except that, upon receiving a request from the delegate agency accompanied by assurances satisfactory to the Head Start agency that the funds will be appropriately safeguarded, the Head Start agency shall provide to the delegate agency a working capital advance in an amount sufficient to cover the estimated expenses involved during an agreed upon disbursing cycle; and
(ii) only if there is continuity of services.
(4) TERMINATION- The Head Start agency may not terminate a delegate agency's contract or reduce a delegate agency's service area without showing cause or demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of such a decision.
(5) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the powers, duties, or functions of the Secretary with respect to Head Start agencies or delegate agencies that receive financial assistance under this subchapter.
(e) Corrective Action for Head Start Agencies-
(1) DETERMINATION- If the Secretary determines, on the basis of a review pursuant to subsection (c), that a Head Start agency designated pursuant to this subchapter fails to meet the standards described in subsection (a)(1) or fails to address the communitywide strategic planning and needs assessment, the Secretary shall--
(A) inform the agency of the deficiencies that shall be corrected and identify the assistance to be provided consistent with paragraph (3);
(B) with respect to each identified deficiency, require the agency--
(i) to correct the deficiency immediately, if the Secretary finds that the deficiency threatens the health or safety of staff or program participants or poses a threat to the integrity of Federal funds;
(ii) to correct the deficiency not later than 90 days after the identification of the deficiency if the Secretary finds, in the discretion of the Secretary, that such a 90-day period is reasonable, in light of the nature and magnitude of the deficiency; or
(iii) in the discretion of the Secretary (taking into consideration the seriousness of the deficiency and the time reasonably required to correct the deficiency), to comply with the requirements of paragraph (2) concerning a quality improvement plan; and
(C) initiate proceedings to terminate the designation of the agency unless the agency corrects the deficiency.
(2) QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PLAN-
(A) AGENCY AND PROGRAM RESPONSIBILITIES- To retain a designation as a Head Start agency under this subchapter, or in the case of a Head Start program to continue to receive funds from such agency, a Head Start agency that is the subject of a determination described in paragraph (1), or a Head Start program that is determined to have a deficiency under subsection (d)(2) (excluding an agency required to correct a deficiency immediately or during a 90-day period under clause (i) or (ii) of paragraph (1)(B)) shall--
(i) develop in a timely manner, a quality improvement plan that shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary, or in the case of a program, the sponsoring agency, and that shall specify--
(I) the deficiencies to be corrected;
(II) the actions to be taken to correct such deficiencies; and
(III) the timetable for accomplishment of the corrective actions specified; and
(ii) correct each deficiency identified, not later than the date for correction of such deficiency specified in such plan (which shall not be later than 1 year after the date the agency or Head Start program that is determined to have a deficiency received notice of the determination and of the specific deficiency to be corrected).
(B) SECRETARIAL RESPONSIBILITY- Not later than 30 days after receiving from a Head Start agency a proposed quality improvement plan pursuant to subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall either approve such proposed plan or specify the reasons why the proposed plan cannot be approved.
(C) AGENCY RESPONSIBILITY- Not later than 30 days after receiving from a Head Start program a proposed quality improvement plan pursuant to subparagraph (A), the Head Start agency involved shall either approve such proposed plan or specify the reasons why the proposed plan cannot be approved.
(3) TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE- The Secretary shall provide training and technical assistance to Head Start agencies and programs with respect to the development or implementation of such quality improvement plans to the extent the Secretary finds such provision to be feasible and appropriate given available funding and other statutory responsibilities.
(f) Summaries of Monitoring Outcomes-
(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 120 days after the end of each fiscal year, the Secretary shall publish a summary report on the findings of reviews conducted under subsection (c) and on the outcomes of quality improvement plans implemented under subsection (e), during such fiscal year.
(2) REPORT AVAILABILITY- Such report shall be made widely available to--
(A) parents with children receiving assistance under this subchapter--
(i) in an understandable and uniform format; and
(ii) to the extent practicable, in a language that the parents understand; and
(B) the public through means such as--
(i) distribution through public agencies; and
(ii) posting such information on the Internet.
(3) REPORT INFORMATION- Such report shall contain detailed data--
(A) on compliance with specific standards and measures; and
(B) sufficient to allow Head Start agencies to use such data to improve the quality of their programs.
(1) IN GENERAL- Not less frequently than once each program year, with the consultation and participation of policy councils and, as applicable, policy committees and, as appropriate, other community members, each Head Start agency, and each delegate agency, that receives financial assistance under this subchapter shall conduct a comprehensive self-assessment of its effectiveness and progress in meeting program goals and objectives and in implementing and complying with standards described in subsection (a)(1).
(2) GOALS, REPORTS, AND IMPROVEMENT PLANS-
(A) GOALS- An agency conducting a self-assessment shall establish agency-determined program goals for improving the school readiness of children participating in a program under this subchapter, including school readiness goals that are aligned with the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework, State early learning standards as appropriate, and requirements and expectations of the schools the children will be attending.
(B) IMPROVEMENT PLAN- The agency shall develop, and submit to the Secretary a report containing, an improvement plan approved by the governing body of the agency to strengthen any areas identified in the self-assessment as weaknesses or in need of improvement.
(3) ONGOING MONITORING- Each Head Start agency (including each Early Head Start agency) and each delegate agency shall establish and implement procedures for the ongoing monitoring of their respective programs, to ensure that the operations of the programs work toward meeting program goals and objectives and standards described in subsection (a)(1).
(h) Reduction of Grants and Redistribution of Funds in Cases of Underenrollment-
(1) DEFINITIONS- In this subsection:
(A) ACTUAL ENROLLMENT- The term actual enrollment' means, with respect to the program of a Head Start agency, the actual number of children enrolled in such program and reported by the agency (as required in paragraph (2)) in a given month.
(B) BASE GRANT- The term base grant' has the meaning given the term in section 640(a)(7).
(C) FUNDED ENROLLMENT- The term funded enrollment' means, with respect to the program of a Head Start agency in a fiscal year, the number of children that the agency is funded to serve through a grant for the program during such fiscal year, as indicated in the grant agreement.
(2) ENROLLMENT REPORTING REQUIREMENT- Each entity carrying out a Head Start program shall report on a monthly basis to the Secretary and the relevant Head Start agency—
(A) the actual enrollment in such program; and
(B) if such actual enrollment is less than the funded enrollment, any apparent reason for such enrollment shortfall.
(3) SECRETARIAL REVIEW AND PLAN- The Secretary shall—
(A) on a semiannual basis, determine which Head Start agencies are operating with an actual enrollment that is less than the funded enrollment based on not less than 4 consecutive months of data;
(B) for each such Head Start agency operating a program with an actual enrollment that is less than its funded enrollment, as determined under subparagraph (A), develop, in collaboration with such agency, a plan and timetable for reducing or eliminating underenrollment taking into consideration--
(i) the quality and extent of the outreach, recruitment, and communitywide strategic planning and needs assessment conducted by such agency;
(ii) changing demographics, mobility of populations, and the identification of new underserved low-income populations;
(iii) facilities-related issues that may impact enrollment;
(iv) the ability to provide full-working-day programs, where needed, through funds made available under this subchapter or through collaboration with entities carrying out other early childhood education and development programs, or programs with other funding sources (where available);
(v) the availability and use by families of other early childhood education and development options in the community served; and
(vi) agency management procedures that may impact enrollment; and
(C) provide timely and ongoing technical assistance to each agency described in subparagraph (B) for the purpose of assisting the Head Start agency to implement the plan described in such subparagraph.
(4) IMPLEMENTATION- Upon receipt of the technical assistance described in paragraph (3)(C), a Head Start agency shall immediately implement the plan described in paragraph (3)(B). The Secretary shall, where determined appropriate, continue to provide technical assistance to such agency.
(5) SECRETARIAL REVIEW AND ADJUSTMENT FOR CHRONIC UNDERENROLLMENT-
(A) IN GENERAL- If, after receiving technical assistance and developing and implementing the plan as described in paragraphs (3) and (4) for 12 months, a Head Start agency is operating a program with an actual enrollment that is less than 97 percent of its funded enrollment, the Secretary may--
(i) designate such agency as chronically underenrolled; and
(ii) recapture, withhold, or reduce the base grant for the program by a percentage equal to the percentage difference between funded enrollment and actual enrollment for the program for the most recent year for which the agency is determined to be underenrolled under paragraph (3)(A).
(B) WAIVER OR LIMITATION OF REDUCTIONS- The Secretary may, as appropriate, waive or reduce the percentage recapturing, withholding, or reduction otherwise required by subparagraph (A), if, after the implementation of the plan described in paragraph (3)(B), the Secretary finds that--
(i) the causes of the enrollment shortfall, or a portion of the shortfall, are related to the agency's serving significant numbers of highly mobile children, or are other significant causes as determined by the Secretary;
(ii) the shortfall can reasonably be expected to be temporary; or
(iii) the number of slots allotted to the agency is small enough that underenrollment does not create a significant shortfall.
(6) REDISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS-
(A) IN GENERAL- Funds held by the Secretary as a result of recapturing, withholding, or reducing a base grant in a fiscal year shall be redistributed by the end of the following fiscal year as follows:
(i) INDIAN HEAD START PROGRAMS- If such funds are derived from an Indian Head Start program, then such funds shall be redistributed to increase enrollment by the end of the following fiscal year in 1 or more Indian Head Start programs.
(ii) MIGRANT AND SEASONAL HEAD START PROGRAMS- If such funds are derived from a migrant or seasonal Head Start program, then such funds shall be redistributed to increase enrollment by the end of the following fiscal year in 1 or more programs of the type from which such funds are derived.
(iii) EARLY HEAD START PROGRAMS- If such funds are derived from an Early Head Start program in a State, then such funds shall be redistributed to increase enrollment by the end of the following fiscal year in 1 or more Early Head Start programs in that State. If such funds are derived from an Indian Early Head Start program, then such funds shall be redistributed to increase enrollment by the end of the following fiscal year in 1 or more Indian Early Head Start programs.
(iv) OTHER HEAD START PROGRAMS- If such funds are derived from a Head Start program in a State (excluding programs described in clauses (i) through (iii)), then such funds shall be redistributed to increase enrollment by the end of the following fiscal year in 1 or more Head Start programs (excluding programs described in clauses (i) through (iii)) that are carried out in such State.
(B) ADJUSTMENT TO FUNDED ENROLLMENT- The Secretary shall adjust as necessary the requirements relating to funded enrollment indicated in the grant agreement of a Head Start agency receiving redistributed funds under this paragraph.