WASHINGTON, DC – The National Head Start Association commented today on the announcement that the Department of Health and Human Services is waiving the extended duration requirement on center-based Head Start programs.
“The Head Start community sought funding to meet the mandate for longer service hours, because additional time and exposure to high-quality Head Start programs and staff leads to better outcomes for vulnerable children and families,” NHSA Executive Director Yasmina Vinci said. “But without additional resources and a looming deadline, waiving this unfunded mandate is the best outcome in order to avoid having to cut up to 41,000 children from Head Start programs. NHSA will continue educating Congress and the Administration on Head Start's need for increased funding to meet today's operating challenges, continue to implement Performance Standards, and increase quality.”
The extended duration requirement was included in the 2016 Head Start Program Performance Standards. NHSA pushed for the rule to also include flexibility for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive the requirement if additional funding was not made available. Given the significant cost to programs in extending duration, without new funding programs would be faced with potentially having to reduce the number of children served in order to provide more hours.