Head Start Policy and Regulations

Background Checks – Extension of Compliance Date and Questions

U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services

Administration for Children and Families

1. Log Number: ACF-PI-HS-16-05
2. Issuance Date: 12/08/2016
3. Originating Office: Office of Head Start
4. Key Words: Background Check; Head Start Program Performance Standards; HSPPS; Compliance table

Program Instruction

To: All Head Start and Early Head Start Grantees, including Delegate Agencies

Subject: Background Checks – Extension of Compliance Date and Questions


This Program Instruction (PI) notifies programs they have until September 30, 2017 to comply with all background checks requirements at §1302.90(b) in the Head Start Program Performance Standards final rule. This new effective date aligns with background check requirement deadlines for systems in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014, 20 U.S.C. § 1431 et seq., 20. It also will afford programs more time to implement systems in accordance with these requirements.

We received feedback from Head Start and child care communities, as well as from states, that programs could not comply with background check requirements in §1302.90(b)(1) by November 7, 2016. Head Start programs, like child care programs, primarily rely on states to conduct and to process the types of comprehensive background checks we require in §1302.90(b)(1). Currently, states do not have procedures in place to accommodate these comprehensive background checks. However, by September 30, 2017, Congress requires states that receive CCDBG funding to implement the same set of comprehensive background checks for all child care teachers and staff. By then, we anticipate most states will have such systems in place, unless they are granted a one-year extension under the CCDBG Act. The Federal Register notice announcing this change with the full rationale can be found at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/06/2016-29183/head-start-program.

Until September 30, 2017, however, we require programs to continue to adhere to the criminal record check requirements in Section 648A of the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, Public Law 110-134. It requires a state, tribal, or federal criminal record check:

  • That covers all jurisdictions where the grantee provides Head Start services to children;
  • A state, tribal, or federal criminal record check as required by the law in the jurisdiction where the grantee provides Head Start services; or
  • A criminal record check as otherwise required by federal law.

We have received many other questions about the background check provisions. Attached is a series of frequently asked questions and answers that programs can use as they design their systems to meet the new requirements by September 2017.

If you have questions regarding this PI, please contact your Regional Office.

Thank you for the work you do on behalf of children and families.

/ Blanca Enriquez, Ph.D. /

Blanca Enriquez, Ph.D.
Office of Head Start

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See PDF Version of Program Instruction:

Historical Document