On June 16th, Secretary of Health and Human Services—and Head Start alumna!—Sylvia Mathews Burwell visited a Head Start program in Chicago to announce the release of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Head Start Program Performance Standards. She articulated the intent of the prosed rule by saying, "These proposed standards provide the building blocks for the success of future generations of Head Start kids. As a Head Start kid myself, I know firsthand the power Head Start has to instill a lifelong love of learning. By reducing the unnecessary bureaucratic burdens and applying the latest research and best practices in our Head Start programs, we will help more children onto the path of success.”
The revised standards were called for in the 2007 reauthorization of the Head Start Act and have been underway for several years. NHSA's Standards Working Group made recommendations earlier in the process and the NPRM was released in June. The response was so intense that the 60-day deadline was extended by 30 days.
NHSA worked quickly to review the NPRM for the Head Start Program Performance Standards and write comments to represent what is best for children and families, what is feasible for programs to implement, and the resources programs need to continue to be leaders in early childhood care and education. While the revised standards were designed for flexibility and based on firm research, the rapid expansion of full-day services and numerous other changes required careful consideration and response by the entire Head Start and Early Head Start field. After three months of webinars and calls and many drafts, the final comments were submitted September 17, 2015. NHSA's comments included sign-ons from 1,200 Head Start practitioners and advocates, including every national, regional, and state Head Start Association representing all Head Start and Early Head Start grantees - serving more than one million children and their families. Read NHSA's comments here or check out a four page summary of the key issues we think need to be addressed.