Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Obama will mandate Head Start competition

Administration officials told USA TODAY Obama is acting on his own because Republicans in Congress are obstructing on education policy, including efforts to reduce Head Start funding. They are billing it as part of Obama's "We Can't Wait" campaign to enact policies by executive action. In this case, the rulemaking process was begun more than a year ago by the Department of Health and Human Services under terms of a 2007 law. Most Republicans supported that legislation; it passed the Senate unanimously and the House by a vote of 381-36.

The new rule is designed "to promote accountability and improve the quality of Head Start programs," said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

Nationally, there are nearly 1,600 Head Start and Early Head Start programs providing early learning services to nearly 1 million low-income children. Under the new plan, Health and Human Services will review the performance of all Head Start grantees, using benchmarks to determine if recipients are eligible for funding. Those include classroom management, family involvement, health, safety and nutrition standards, financial management and previous license suspensions.

The administration estimates that one-third of Head Start grantees will be required to compete for funds under the new plan; some will be notified as early as next month.


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