February 10, 2015
Final Rule on Head Start Eligibility was published in the Federal Register. It codifies statutory eligibility requirements revised in the Improving Head Start Act of 2007 and strengthens procedures programs use to determine eligibility.
This final rule amends two sections of Head Start eligibility regulations within the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS), Section 1305. First, the rule incorporates changes to eligibility in the most recent Head Start reauthorization. It also improves program integrity by strengthening required procedures to ensure only eligible children receive Head Start services.
The rule provides clear instructions on how to determine if families are either income or categorically eligible for Head Start services. It describes the types of documents programs may accept from families to prove their eligibility, as well as how to verify those documents. Further, it requires programs to maintain those documents in records for a specific period of time. The rule also instructs programs to train staff on these eligibility requirements and on the legal consequences for committing fraud. It also requires programs to take action against staff that intentionally enroll ineligible children.