Community Assessment

Recruitment, Selection Criteria, and Enrollment Priorities

a toddler girl holding a baby doll

According to the HSPPS, each year, programs must establish selection criteria based on community assessment data that affect how participant selection is prioritized. Factors to be considered when establishing selection criteria include (45 CFR §1302.14(a)(1)):

  • Community needs identified in the community assessment
  • Family income
  • Whether the child is experiencing homelessness or is in foster care
  • The child's age
  • Child's eligibility for special education, early intervention services, or related services, as determined under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. 1400, et seq.)
  • Other relevant family or child risk factors

The community assessment is designed, in part, to identify which children and their families are most in need of Head Start services. As a result, your program may need to revise its recruitment and selection criteria to better reach these populations. Likewise, changes in enrollment may require relocating existing centers or redesigning program options.

As population shifts or changes in population needs begin to emerge within communities, the Head Start program should reflect that change in its recruitment and selection priorities. There are several factors identified in the HSPPS regarding the establishment of recruitment and selection criteria based on the community assessment. A program must take into consideration any significant changes including increased availability of publicly funded pre-kindergarten (including how it meets the needs of the parents and children served, and whether it is offered for a full school day), rates of family and child homelessness, and community demographics and resources. A program must also consider whether the characteristics of the community allow it to include children from diverse economic backgrounds who would be supported by other funding sources, ncluding private pay, in addition to the program's eligible funded enrollment (45 CFR §1302.11(b)(3)).

If the community assessment finds need, the HSPPS do allow for a program to reserve one or more enrollment slots when a vacancy occurs for pregnant women and children experiencing homelessness and children in foster care (45 CFR §1302.15(c)). It is understood that children in these situations could benefit greatly from the comprehensive services offered by Head Start.