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Title 45 Part 1302

Title 45 → Subtitle B → Chapter XIII → Subchapter B → Part 1302

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR

Title 45 Part 1302

e-CFR data is current as of December 6, 2018

Title 45Subtitle BChapter XIIISubchapter B → Part 1302


Title 45: Public Welfare


PART 1302—PROGRAM OPERATIONS


Contents
§1302.1   Overview.

§1302.1   Overview.

This part implements these statutory requirements in Sections 641A, 645, 645A, and 648A of the Act by describing all of the program performance standards that are required to operate Head Start, Early Head Start, American Indian and Alaska Native and Migrant or Seasonal Head Start programs. The part covers the full range of operations from enrolling eligible children and providing program services to those children and their families, to managing programs to ensure staff are qualified and supported to effectively provide services. This part also focuses on using data through ongoing program improvement to ensure high-quality service. As required in the Act, these provisions do not narrow the scope or quality of services covered in previous regulations. Instead, these regulations raise the quality standard to reflect science and best practices, and streamline and simplify requirements so programs can better understand what is required for quality services.

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Subpart A—Eligibility, Recruitment, Selection, Enrollment, and Attendance

§1302.10   Purpose.

This subpart describes requirements of grantees for determining community strengths, needs and resources as well as recruitment areas. It contains requirements and procedures for the eligibility determination, recruitment, selection, enrollment and attendance of children and explains the policy concerning the charging of fees.

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§1302.11   Determining community strengths, needs, and resources.

(a) Service area. (1) A program must propose a service area in the grant application and define the area by county or sub-county area, such as a municipality, town or census tract or jurisdiction of a federally recognized Indian reservation.

(i) A tribal program may propose a service area that includes areas where members of Indian tribes or those eligible for such membership reside, including but not limited to Indian reservation land, areas designated as near-reservation by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) provided that the service area is approved by the tribe's governing council, Alaska Native Villages, Alaska Native Regional Corporations with land-based authorities, Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Areas, and Tribal Designated Statistical Areas where federally recognized Indian tribes do not have a federally established reservation.

(ii) If the tribe's service area includes any area specified in paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this section, and that area is also served by another program, the tribe may serve children from families who are members of or eligible to be members of such tribe and who reside in such areas as well as children from families who are not members of the tribe, but who reside within the tribe's established service area.

(2) If a program decides to change the service area after ACF has approved its grant application, the program must submit to ACF a new service area proposal for approval.

(b) Community wide strategic planning and needs assessment (community assessment). (1) To design a program that meets community needs, and builds on strengths and resources, a program must conduct a community assessment at least once over the five-year grant period. The community assessment must use data that describes community strengths, needs, and resources and include, at a minimum:

(i) The number of eligible infants, toddlers, preschool age children, and expectant mothers, including their geographic location, race, ethnicity, and languages they speak, including:

(A) Children experiencing homelessness in collaboration with, to the extent possible, McKinney-Vento Local Education Agency Liaisons (42 U.S.C. 11432 (6)(A));

(B) Children in foster care; and

(C) Children with disabilities, including types of disabilities and relevant services and resources provided to these children by community agencies;

(ii) The education, health, nutrition and social service needs of eligible children and their families, including prevalent social or economic factors that impact their well-being;

(iii) Typical work, school, and training schedules of parents with eligible children;

(iv) Other child development, child care centers, and family child care programs that serve eligible children, including home visiting, publicly funded state and local preschools, and the approximate number of eligible children served;

(v) Resources that are available in the community to address the needs of eligible children and their families; and,

(vi) Strengths of the community.

(2) A program must annually review and update the community assessment to reflect any significant changes including increased availability of publicly-funded pre-kindergarten- (including an assessment of how the pre-kindergarten available in the community meets the needs of the parents and children served by the program, and whether it is offered for a full school day), rates of family and child homelessness, and significant shifts in community demographics and resources.

(3) A program must consider whether the characteristics of the community allow it to include children from diverse economic backgrounds that would be supported by other funding sources, including private pay, in addition to the program's eligible funded enrollment. A program must not enroll children from diverse economic backgrounds if it would result in a program serving less than its eligible funded enrollment.

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§1302.12   Determining, verifying, and documenting eligibility.

(a) Process overview. (1) Program staff must:

(i) Conduct an in-person interview with each family, unless paragraph (a)(2) of this section applies;

(ii) Verify information as required in paragraphs (h) and (i) of this section; and,

(iii) Create an eligibility determination record for enrolled participants according to paragraph (k) of this section.

(2) Program staff may interview the family over the telephone if an in-person interview is not possible or convenient for the family.

(3) If a program has an alternate method to reasonably determine eligibility based on its community assessment, geographic and administrative data, or from other reliable data sources, it may petition the responsible HHS official to waive requirements in paragraphs (a)(1)(i) and (ii) of this section.

(b) Age requirements. (1) For Early Head Start, except when the child is transitioning to Head Start, a child must be an infant or a toddler younger than three years old.

(2) For Head Start, a child must:

(i) Be at least three years old or, turn three years old by the date used to determine eligibility for public school in the community in which the Head Start program is located; and,

(ii) Be no older than the age required to attend school.

(3) For Migrant or Seasonal Head Start, a child must be younger than compulsory school age by the date used to determine public school eligibility for the community in which the program is located.

(c) Eligibility requirements. (1) A pregnant woman or a child is eligible if:

(i) The family's income is equal to or below the poverty line; or,

(ii) The family is eligible for or, in the absence of child care, would be potentially eligible for public assistance; including TANF child-only payments; or,

(iii) The child is homeless, as defined in part 1305; or,

(iv) The child is in foster care.

(2) If the family does not meet a criterion under paragraph (c)(1) of this section, a program may enroll a child who would benefit from services, provided that these participants only make up to 10 percent of a program's enrollment in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section.

(d) Additional allowances for programs. (1) A program may enroll an additional 35 percent of participants whose families do not meet a criterion described in paragraph (c) of this section and whose incomes are below 130 percent of the poverty line, if the program:

(i) Establishes and implements outreach, and enrollment policies and procedures to ensure it is meeting the needs of eligible pregnant women, children, and children with disabilities, before serving pregnant women or children who do not meet the criteria in paragraph (c) of this section; and,

(ii) Establishes criteria that ensure pregnant women and children eligible under the criteria listed in paragraph (c) of this section are served first.

(2) If a program chooses to enroll participants who do not meet a criterion in paragraph (c) of this section, and whose family incomes are between 100 and 130 percent of the poverty line, it must be able to report to the Head Start regional program office:

(i) How it is meeting the needs of low-income families or families potentially eligible for public assistance, homeless children, and children in foster care, and include local demographic data on these populations;

(ii) Outreach and enrollment policies and procedures that ensure it is meeting the needs of eligible children or pregnant women, before serving over-income children or pregnant women;

(iii) Efforts, including outreach, to be fully enrolled with eligible pregnant women or children;

(iv) Policies, procedures, and selection criteria it uses to serve eligible children;

(v) Its current enrollment and its enrollment for the previous year;

(vi) The number of pregnant women and children served, disaggregated by the eligibility criteria in paragraphs (c) and (d)(1) of this section; and,

(vii) The eligibility criteria category of each child on the program's waiting list.

(e) Additional allowances for Indian tribes. (1) Notwithstanding paragraph (c)(2) of this section, a tribal program may fill more than 10 percent of its enrollment with participants who are not eligible under the criteria in paragraph (c) of this section, if:

(i) The tribal program has served all eligible pregnant women or children who wish to be enrolled from Indian and non-Indian families living within the approved service area of the tribal agency;

(ii) The tribe has resources within its grant, without using additional funds from HHS intended to expand Early Head Start or Head Start services, to enroll pregnant women or children whose family incomes exceed low-income guidelines or who are not otherwise eligible; and,

(iii) At least 51 percent of the program's participants meet an eligibility criterion under paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(2) If another program does not serve the approved service area, the program must serve all eligible Indian and non-Indian pregnant women or children who wish to enroll before serving over-income pregnant women or children.

(3) A program that meets the conditions of this paragraph (e) must annually set criteria that are approved by the policy council and the tribal council for selecting over-income pregnant women or children who would benefit from program services.

(4) An Indian tribe or tribes that operates both an Early Head Start program and a Head Start program may, at its discretion, at any time during the grant period involved, reallocate funds between the Early Head Start program and the Head Start program in order to address fluctuations in client populations, including pregnant women and children from birth to compulsory school age. The reallocation of such funds between programs by an Indian tribe or tribes during a year may not serve as a basis for any reduction of the base grant for either program in succeeding years.

(f) Migrant or Seasonal eligibility requirements. A child is eligible for Migrant or Seasonal Head Start, if the family meets an eligibility criterion in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section; and the family's income comes primarily from agricultural work.

(g) Eligibility requirements for communities with 1,000 or fewer individuals. (1) A program may establish its own criteria for eligibility provided that it meets the criteria outlined in section 645(a)(2) of the Act.

(2) No child residing in such community whose family is eligible under criteria described in paragraphs (c) through (f) of this section, may be denied an opportunity to participate in the program under the eligibility criteria established under this paragraph (g).

(h) Verifying age. Program staff must verify a child's age according to program policies and procedures. A program's policies and procedures cannot require families to provide documents that confirm a child's age, if doing so creates a barrier for the family to enroll the child.

(i) Verifying eligibility. (1) To verify eligibility based on income, program staff must use tax forms, pay stubs, or other proof of income to determine the family income for the relevant time period.

(i) If the family cannot provide tax forms, pay stubs, or other proof of income for the relevant time period, program staff may accept written statements from employers, including individuals who are self-employed, for the relevant time period and use information provided to calculate total annual income with appropriate multipliers.

(ii) If the family reports no income for the relevant time period, a program may accept the family's signed declaration to that effect, if program staff describes efforts made to verify the family's income, and explains how the family's total income was calculated or seeks information from third parties about the family's eligibility, if the family gives written consent. If a family gives consent to contact third parties, program staff must adhere to program safety and privacy policies and procedures and ensure the eligibility determination record adheres to paragraph (k)(2) of this section.

(iii) If the family can demonstrate a significant change in income for the relevant time period, program staff may consider current income circumstances.

(2) To verify whether a family is eligible for, or in the absence of child care, would be potentially eligible for public assistance, the program must have documentation from either the state, local, or tribal public assistance agency that shows the family either receives public assistance or that shows the family is potentially eligible to receive public assistance.

(3) To verify whether a family is homeless, a program may accept a written statement from a homeless services provider, school personnel, or other service agency attesting that the child is homeless or any other documentation that indicates homelessness, including documentation from a public or private agency, a declaration, information gathered on enrollment or application forms, or notes from an interview with staff to establish the child is homeless; or any other document that establishes homelessness.

(i) If a family can provide one of the documents described in this paragraph (i)(3), program staff must describe efforts made to verify the accuracy of the information provided and state whether the family is eligible because they are homeless.

(ii) If a family cannot provide one of the documents described in this paragraph (i)(3) to prove the child is homeless, a program may accept the family's signed declaration to that effect, if, in a written statement, program staff describe the child's living situation that meets the definition of homeless in part 1305 of this chapter.

(iii) Program staff may seek information from third parties who have firsthand knowledge about a family's living situation, if the family gives written consent. If the family gives consent to contact third parties, program staff must adhere to program privacy policies and procedures and ensure the eligibility determination record adheres to paragraph (k) of this section.

(4) To verify whether a child is in foster care, program staff must accept either a court order or other legal or government-issued document, a written statement from a government child welfare official that demonstrates the child is in foster care, or proof of a foster care payment.

(j) Eligibility duration. (1) If a child is determined eligible under this section and is participating in a Head Start program, he or she will remain eligible through the end of the succeeding program year except that the Head Start program may choose not to enroll a child when there are compelling reasons for the child not to remain in Head Start, such as when there is a change in the child's family income and there is a child with a greater need for Head Start services.

(2) Children who are enrolled in a program receiving funds under the authority of section 645A of the Act remain eligible while they participate in the program.

(3) If a child moves from an Early Head Start program to a Head Start program, program staff must verify the family's eligibility again.

(4) If a program operates both an Early Head Start and a Head Start program, and the parents wish to enroll their child who has been enrolled in the program's Early Head Start, the program must ensure, whenever possible, the child receives Head Start services until enrolled in school, provided the child is eligible.

(k) Records. (1) A program must keep eligibility determination records for each participant and ongoing records of the eligibility training for staff required by paragraph (m) of this section. A program may keep these records electronically.

(2) Each eligibility determination record must include:

(i) Copies of any documents or statements, including declarations, that are deemed necessary to verify eligibility under paragraphs (h) and (i) of this section;

(ii) A statement that program staff has made reasonable efforts to verify information by:

(A) Conducting either an in-person, or a telephone interview with the family as described under paragraph (a)(1)(i) or (a)(2) of this section; and,

(B) Describing efforts made to verify eligibility, as required under paragraphs (h) through (i) of this section; and, collecting documents required for third party verification that includes the family's written consent to contact each third party, the third parties' names, titles, and affiliations, and information from third parties regarding the family's eligibility.

(iii) A statement that identifies whether:

(A) The family's income is below income guidelines for its size, and lists the family's size;

(B) The family is eligible for or, in the absence of child care, potentially eligible for public assistance;

(C) The child is a homeless child or the child is in foster care;

(D) The family was determined to be eligible under the criterion in paragraph (c)(2) of this section; or,

(E) The family was determined to be eligible under the criterion in paragraph (d)(1) of this section.

(3) A program must keep eligibility determination records for those currently enrolled, as long as they are enrolled, and, for one year after they have either stopped receiving services; or are no longer enrolled.

(l) Program policies and procedures on violating eligibility determination regulations. A program must establish written policies and procedures that describe all actions taken against staff who intentionally violate federal and program eligibility determination regulations and who enroll pregnant women and children that are not eligible to receive Early Head Start or Head Start services.

(m) Training on eligibility. (1) A program must train all governing body, policy council, management, and staff who determine eligibility on applicable federal regulations and program policies and procedures. Training must, at a minimum:

(i) Include methods on how to collect complete and accurate eligibility information from families and third party sources;

(ii) Incorporate strategies for treating families with dignity and respect and for dealing with possible issues of domestic violence, stigma, and privacy; and,

(iii) Explain program policies and procedures that describe actions taken against staff, families, or participants who attempt to provide or intentionally provide false information.

(2) A program must train management and staff members who make eligibility determinations within 90 days of hiring new staff.

(3) A program must train all governing body and policy council members within 180 days of the beginning of the term of a new governing body or policy council.

(4) A program must develop policies on how often training will be provided after the initial training.

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§1302.13   Recruitment of children.

In order to reach those most in need of services, a program must develop and implement a recruitment process designed to actively inform all families with eligible children within the recruitment area of the availability of program services, and encourage and assist them in applying for admission to the program. A program must include specific efforts to actively locate and recruit children with disabilities and other vulnerable children, including homeless children and children in foster care.

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§1302.14   Selection process.

(a) Selection criteria. (1) A program must annually establish selection criteria that weigh the prioritization of selection of participants, based on community needs identified in the community needs assessment as described in §1302.11(b), and including family income, whether the child is homeless, whether the child is in foster care, the child's age, whether the child is eligible for special education and related services, or early intervention services, as appropriate, as determined under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) and, other relevant family or child risk factors.

(2) If a program serves migrant or seasonal families, it must select participants according to criteria in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, and give priority to children whose families can demonstrate they have relocated frequently within the past two-years to pursue agricultural work.

(3) If a program operates in a service area where Head Start eligible children can enroll in high-quality publicly funded pre-kindergarten for a full school day, the program must prioritize younger children as part of the selection criteria in paragraph (a)(1) of this section. If this priority would disrupt partnerships with local education agencies, then it is not required. An American Indian and Alaska Native or Migrant or Seasonal Head Start program must consider whether such prioritization is appropriate in their community.

(4) A program must not deny enrollment based on a disability or chronic health condition or its severity.

(b) Children eligible for services under IDEA. (1) A program must ensure at least 10 percent of its total funded enrollment is filled by children eligible for services under IDEA, unless the responsible HHS official grants a waiver.

(2) If the requirement in paragraph (b)(1) of this section has been met, children eligible for services under IDEA should be prioritized for the available slots in accordance with the program's selection criteria described in paragraph (a) of this section.

(c) Waiting lists. A program must develop at the beginning of each enrollment year and maintain during the year a waiting list that ranks children according to the program's selection criteria.

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§1302.15   Enrollment.

(a) Funded enrollment. A program must maintain its funded enrollment level and fill any vacancy as soon as possible. A program must fill any vacancy within 30 days.

(b) Continuity of enrollment. (1) A program must make efforts to maintain enrollment of eligible children for the following year.

(2) Under exceptional circumstances, a program may maintain a child's enrollment in Head Start for a third year, provided that family income is verified again. A program may maintain a child's enrollment in Early Head Start as described in §1302.12(j)(2).

(3) If a program serves homeless children or children in foster care, it must make efforts to maintain the child's enrollment regardless of whether the family or child moves to a different service area, or transition the child to a program in a different service area, as required in §1302.72(a), according to the family's needs.

(c) Reserved slots. If a program determines from the community assessment there are families experiencing homelessness in the area, or children in foster care that could benefit from services, the program may reserve one or more enrollment slots for pregnant women and children experiencing homelessness and children in foster care, when a vacancy occurs. No more than three percent of a program's funded enrollment slots may be reserved. If the reserved enrollment slot is not filled within 30 days, the enrollment slot becomes vacant and then must be filled in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section.

(d) Other enrollment. Children from diverse economic backgrounds who are funded with other sources, including private pay, are not considered part of a program's eligible funded enrollment.

(e) State immunization enrollment requirements. A program must comply with state immunization enrollment and attendance requirements, with the exception of homeless children as described in §1302.16(c)(1).

(f) Voluntary parent participation. Parent participation in any program activity is voluntary, including consent for data sharing, and is not required as a condition of the child's enrollment.

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§1302.16   Attendance.

(a) Promoting regular attendance. A program must track attendance for each child.

(1) A program must implement a process to ensure children are safe when they do not arrive at school. If a child is unexpectedly absent and a parent has not contacted the program within one hour of program start time, the program must attempt to contact the parent to ensure the child's well-being.

(2) A program must implement strategies to promote attendance. At a minimum, a program must:

(i) Provide information about the benefits of regular attendance;

(ii) Support families to promote the child's regular attendance;

(iii) Conduct a home visit or make other direct contact with a child's parents if a child has multiple unexplained absences (such as two consecutive unexplained absences); and,

(iv) Within the first 60 days of program operation, and on an ongoing basis thereafter, use individual child attendance data to identify children with patterns of absence that put them at risk of missing ten percent of program days per year and develop appropriate strategies to improve individual attendance among identified children, such as direct contact with parents or intensive case management, as necessary.

(3) If a child ceases to attend, the program must make appropriate efforts to reengage the family to resume attendance, including as described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. If the child's attendance does not resume, then the program must consider that slot vacant. This action is not considered expulsion as described in §1302.17.

(b) Managing systematic program attendance issues. If a program's monthly average daily attendance rate falls below 85 percent, the program must analyze the causes of absenteeism to identify any systematic issues that contribute to the program's absentee rate. The program must use this data to make necessary changes in a timely manner as part of ongoing oversight and correction as described in §1302.102(b) and inform its continuous improvement efforts as described in §1302.102(c).

(c) Supporting attendance of homeless children. (1) If a program determines a child is eligible under §1302.12(c)(1)(iii), it must allow the child to attend for up to 90 days or as long as allowed under state licensing requirements, without immunization and other records, to give the family reasonable time to present these documents. A program must work with families to get children immunized as soon as possible in order to comply with state licensing requirements.

(2) If a child experiencing homelessness is unable to attend classes regularly because the family does not have transportation to and from the program facility, the program must utilize community resources, where possible, to provide transportation for the child.

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§1302.17   Suspension and expulsion.

(a) Limitations on suspension. (1) A program must prohibit or severely limit the use of suspension due to a child's behavior. Such suspensions may only be temporary in nature.

(2) A temporary suspension must be used only as a last resort in extraordinary circumstances where there is a serious safety threat that cannot be reduced or eliminated by the provision of reasonable modifications.

(3) Before a program determines whether a temporary suspension is necessary, a program must engage with a mental health consultant, collaborate with the parents, and utilize appropriate community resources—such as behavior coaches, psychologists, other appropriate specialists, or other resources—as needed, to determine no other reasonable option is appropriate.

(4) If a temporary suspension is deemed necessary, a program must help the child return to full participation in all program activities as quickly as possible while ensuring child safety by:

(i) Continuing to engage with the parents and a mental health consultant, and continuing to utilize appropriate community resources;

(ii) Developing a written plan to document the action and supports needed;

(iii) Providing services that include home visits; and,

(iv) Determining whether a referral to a local agency responsible for implementing IDEA is appropriate.

(b) Prohibition on expulsion. (1) A program cannot expel or unenroll a child from Head Start because of a child's behavior.

(2) When a child exhibits persistent and serious challenging behaviors, a program must explore all possible steps and document all steps taken to address such problems, and facilitate the child's safe participation in the program. Such steps must include, at a minimum, engaging a mental health consultant, considering the appropriateness of providing appropriate services and supports under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to ensure that the child who satisfies the definition of disability in 29 U.S.C. 705(9)(b) of the Rehabilitation Act is not excluded from the program on the basis of disability, and consulting with the parents and the child's teacher, and:

(i) If the child has an individualized family service plan (IFSP) or individualized education program (IEP), the program must consult with the agency responsible for the IFSP or IEP to ensure the child receives the needed support services; or,

(ii) If the child does not have an IFSP or IEP, the program must collaborate, with parental consent, with the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA to determine the child's eligibility for services.

(3) If, after a program has explored all possible steps and documented all steps taken as described in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, a program, in consultation with the parents, the child's teacher, the agency responsible for implementing IDEA (if applicable), and the mental health consultant, determines that the child's continued enrollment presents a continued serious safety threat to the child or other enrolled children and determines the program is not the most appropriate placement for the child, the program must work with such entities to directly facilitate the transition of the child to a more appropriate placement.

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§1302.18   Fees.

(a) Policy on fees. A program must not charge eligible families a fee to participate in Head Start, including special events such as field trips, and cannot in any way condition an eligible child's enrollment or participation in the program upon the payment of a fee.

(b) Allowable fees. (1) A program must only accept a fee from families of enrolled children for services that are in addition to services funded by Head Start, such as child care before or after funded Head Start hours. A program may not condition a Head Start child's enrollment on the ability to pay a fee for additional hours.

(2) In order to support programs serving children from diverse economic backgrounds or using multiple funding sources, a program may charge fees to private pay families and other non-Head Start enrolled families to the extent allowed by any other applicable federal, state or local funding sources.

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Subpart B—Program Structure

§1302.20   Determining program structure.

(a) Choose a program option. (1) A program must choose to operate one or more of the following program options: Center-based, home-based, family child care, or an approved locally-designed variation as described in §1302.24. The program option(s) chosen must meet the needs of children and families based on the community assessment described in §1302.11(b). A Head Start program serving preschool-aged children may not provide only the option described in §1302.22(a) and (c)(2).

(2) To choose a program option and develop a program calendar, a program must consider in conjunction with the annual review of the community assessment described in §1302.11(b)(2), whether it would better meet child and family needs through conversion of existing slots to full school day or full working day slots, extending the program year, conversion of existing Head Start slots to Early Head Start slots as described in paragraph (c) of this section, and ways to promote continuity of care and services. A program must work to identify alternate sources to support full working day services. If no additional funding is available, program resources may be used.

(b) Comprehensive services. All program options must deliver the full range of services, as described in subparts C, D, E, F, and G of this part, except that §§1302.30 through 1302.32 and §1302.34 do not apply to home-based options.

(c) Conversion. (1) Consistent with section 645(a)(5) of the Head Start Act, grantees may request to convert Head Start slots to Early Head Start slots through the re-funding application process or as a separate grant amendment.

(2) Any grantee proposing a conversion of Head Start services to Early Head Start services must obtain policy council and governing body approval and submit the request to their regional office.

(3) With the exception of American Indian and Alaska Native grantees as described in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, the request to the regional office must include:

(i) A grant application budget and a budget narrative that clearly identifies the funding amount for the Head Start and Early Head Start programs before and after the proposed conversion;

(ii) The results of the community assessment demonstrating how the proposed use of funds would best meet the needs of the community, including a description of how the needs of eligible Head Start children will be met in the community when the conversion takes places;

(iii) A revised program schedule that describes the program option(s) and the number of funded enrollment slots for Head Start and Early Head Start programs before and after the proposed conversion;

(iv) A description of how the needs of pregnant women, infants, and toddlers will be addressed;

(v) A discussion of the agency's capacity to carry out an effective Early Head Start program in accordance with the requirements of section 645A(b) of the Head Start Act and all applicable regulations;

(vi) Assurances that the agency will participate in training and technical assistance activities required of all Early Head Start grantees;

(vii) A discussion of the qualifications and competencies of the child development staff proposed for the Early Head Start program, as well as a description of the facilities and program infrastructure that will be used to support the new or expanded Early Head Start program;

(viii) A discussion of any one-time funding necessary to implement the proposed conversion and how the agency intends to secure such funding; and,

(ix) The proposed timetable for implementing this conversion, including updating school readiness goals as described in subpart J of this part.

(4) Consistent with section 645(d)(3) of the Act, any American Indian and Alaska Native grantee that operates both an Early Head Start program and a Head Start program may reallocate funds between the programs at its discretion and at any time during the grant period involved, in order to address fluctuations in client populations. An American Indian and Alaska Native program that exercises this discretion must notify the regional office.

(d) Source of funding. A program may consider hours of service that meet the Head Start Program Performance Standards, regardless of the source of funding, as hours of planned class operations for the purposes of meeting the Head Start and Early Head Start service duration requirements in this subpart.

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§1302.21   Center-based option.

(a) Setting. The center-based option delivers the full range of services, consistent with §1302.20(b). Education and child development services are delivered primarily in classroom settings.

(b) Ratios and group size. (1) Staff-child ratios and group size maximums must be determined by the age of the majority of children and the needs of children present. A program must determine the age of the majority of children in a class at the start of the year and may adjust this determination during the program year, if necessary. Where state or local licensing requirements are more stringent than the teacher-child ratios and group size specifications in this section, a program must meet the stricter requirements. A program must maintain appropriate ratios during all hours of program operation, except:

(i) For brief absences of a teaching staff member for no more than five minutes; and,

(ii) During nap time, one teaching staff member may be replaced by one staff member or trained volunteer who does not meet the teaching qualifications required for the age.

(2) An Early Head Start or Migrant or Seasonal Head Start class that serves children under 36 months old must have two teachers with no more than eight children, or three teachers with no more than nine children. Each teacher must be assigned consistent, primary responsibility for no more than four children to promote continuity of care for individual children. A program must minimize teacher changes throughout a child's enrollment, whenever possible, and consider mixed age group classes to support continuity of care.

(3) A class that serves a majority of children who are three years old must have no more than 17 children with a teacher and teaching assistant or two teachers. A double session class that serves a majority of children who are three years old must have no more than 15 children with a teacher and teaching assistant or two teachers.

(4) A class that serves a majority of children who are four and five years old must have no more than 20 children with a teacher and a teaching assistant or two teachers. A double session class that serves a majority of children who are four and five years old must have no more than 17 children with a teacher and a teaching assistant or two teachers.

Table to §1302.21(b)—Center-Based Group Size

      
4 and 5 year oldsNo more than 20 children enrolled in any class.
   No more than 17 children enrolled in any double session class.
3 year oldsNo more than 17 children enrolled in any class.
   No more than 15 children enrolled in any double session class.
Under 3 years oldNo more than 8 or 9 children enrolled in any class, depending on the number of teachers.

(c) Service duration—(1) Early Head Start. (i) By August 1, 2018, a program must provide 1,380 annual hours of planned class operations for all enrolled children.

(ii) A program that is designed to meet the needs of young parents enrolled in school settings may meet the service duration requirements in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section if it operates a center-based program schedule during the school year aligned with its local education agency requirements and provides regular home-based services during the summer break.

(2) Head Start. (i) Until a program is operating all of its Head Start center-based funded enrollment at the standard described in paragraph (c)(2)(iv) or (v) of this section, a program must provide, at a minimum, at least 160 days per year of planned class operations if it operates for five days per week, or at least 128 days per year if it operates four days per week. Classes must operate for a minimum of 3.5 hours per day.

(ii) Until a program is operating all of its Head Start center-based funded enrollment at the standard described in paragraph (c)(2)(iv) or (v) of this section, if a program operates a double session variation, it must provide classes for four days per week for a minimum of 128 days per year and 3.5 hours per day. Each double session class staff member must be provided adequate break time during the course of the day. In addition, teachers, aides, and volunteers must have appropriate time to prepare for each session together, to set up the classroom environment, and to give individual attention to children entering and leaving the center.

(iii) By August 1, 2019, a program must provide 1,020 annual hours of planned class operations over the course of at least eight months per year for at least 50 percent of its Head Start center-based funded enrollment.

(iv) By August 1, 2021, a program must provide 1,020 annual hours of planned class operations over the course of at least eight months per year for all of its Head Start center-based funded enrollment.

(v) A Head Start program providing fewer than 1,020 annual hours of planned class operations or fewer than eight months of service is considered to meet the requirements described in paragraphs (c)(2)(iii) and (iv) of this section if its program schedule aligns with the annual hours required by its local education agency for grade one and such alignment is necessary to support partnerships for service delivery.

(3) Secretarial determination. (i) On or before February 1, 2018, the Secretary may lower the required percentage described in paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of this section, based on an assessment of the availability of sufficient funding to mitigate a substantial reduction in funded enrollment; and,

(ii) On or before February 1, 2020, the Secretary may lower the required percentage described in paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section, based on an assessment of the availability of sufficient funding to mitigate a substantial reduction in funded enrollment.

(4) Extension. If an extension is necessary to ensure children enrolled in the program on November 7, 2016 are not displaced from the Early Head Start or Head Start program, a program may request a one-year extension from the responsible HHS official of the requirements outlined in paragraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2)(iii) of this section.

(5) Exemption for Migrant or Seasonal Head Start programs. A Migrant or Seasonal program is not subject to the requirements described in §1302.21(c)(1) or (2), but must make every effort to provide as many days and hours of service as possible to each child and family.

(6) Calendar planning. A program must:

(i) Plan its year using a reasonable estimate of the number of days during a year that classes may be closed due to problems such as inclement weather; and,

(ii) Make every effort to schedule makeup days using existing resources if hours of planned class operations fall below the number required per year.

(d) Licensing and square footage requirements. (1) The facilities used by a program must meet state, tribal, or local licensing requirements, even if exempted by the licensing entity. When state, tribal, or local requirements vary from Head Start requirements, the most stringent provision takes precedence.

(2) A center-based program must have at least 35 square feet of usable indoor space per child available for the care and use of children (exclusive of bathrooms, halls, kitchen, staff rooms, and storage places) and at least 75 square feet of usable outdoor play space per child.

(3) A program that operates two or more groups within an area must ensure clearly defined, safe divisions to separate groups. A program must ensure such spaces are learning environments that facilitate the implementation of the requirements in subpart C of this part. The divisions must limit noise transfer from one group to another to prevent disruption of an effective learning environment.

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§1302.22   Home-based option.

(a) Setting. The home-based option delivers the full range of services, consistent with §1302.20(b), through visits with the child's parents, primarily in the child's home and through group socialization opportunities in a Head Start classroom, community facility, home, or on field trips. For Early Head Start programs, the home-based option may be used to deliver services to some or all of a program's enrolled children. For Head Start programs, the home-based option may only be used to deliver services to a portion of a program's enrolled children.

(b) Caseload. A program that implements a home-based option must maintain an average caseload of 10 to 12 families per home visitor with a maximum of 12 families for any individual home visitor.

(c) Service duration—(1) Early Head Start. By August 1, 2017, an Early Head Start home-based program must:

(i) Provide one home visit per week per family that lasts at least an hour and a half and provide a minimum of 46 visits per year; and,

(ii) Provide, at a minimum, 22 group socialization activities distributed over the course of the program year.

(2) Head Start. A Head Start home-based program must:

(i) Provide one home visit per week per family that lasts at least an hour and a half and provide a minimum of 32 visits per year; and,

(ii) Provide, at a minimum, 16 group socialization activities distributed over the course of the program year.

(3) Meeting minimum requirements. A program that implements a home-based option must:

(i) Make up planned home visits or scheduled group socialization activities that were canceled by the program, and to the extent possible attempt to make up planned home visits canceled by the family, when this is necessary to meet the minimums described in paragraphs (c)(1) and (2) of this section; and,

(ii) Not replace home visits or scheduled group socialization activities for medical or social service appointments for the purposes of meeting the minimum requirements described in paragraphs (c)(1) and (2) of this section.

(d) Safety requirements. The areas for learning, playing, sleeping, toileting, preparing food, and eating in facilities used for group socializations in the home-based option must meet the safety standards described in §1302.47(1)(ii) through (viii).

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§1302.23   Family child care option.

(a) Setting. The family child care program option delivers the full range of services, consistent with §1302.20(b). Education and child development services are primarily delivered by a family child care provider in their home or other family-like setting. A program may choose to offer the family child care option if:

(1) The program has a legally binding agreement with one or more family child care provider(s) that clearly defines the roles, rights, and responsibilities of each party, or the program is the employer of the family child care provider, and ensures children and families enrolled in this option receive the full range of services described in subparts C, D, E, F, and G of this part; and,

(2) The program ensures family child care homes are available that can accommodate children and families with disabilities.

(b) Ratios and group size. (1) A program that operates the family child care option where Head Start children are enrolled must ensure group size does not exceed the limits specified in this section. If the family child care provider's own children under the age of six are present, they must be included in the group size.

(2) When there is one family child care provider, the maximum group size is six children and no more than two of the six may be under 24 months of age. When there is a provider and an assistant, the maximum group size is twelve children with no more than four of the twelve children under 24 months of age.

(3) One family child care provider may care for up to four children younger than 36 months of age with a maximum group size of four children, and no more than two of the four children may be under 18 months of age.

(4) A program must maintain appropriate ratios during all hours of program operation. A program must ensure providers have systems to ensure the safety of any child not within view for any period. A program must make substitute staff and assistant providers available with the necessary training and experience to ensure quality services to children are not interrupted.

(c) Service duration. Whether family child care option services are provided directly or via contractual arrangement, a program must ensure family child care providers operate sufficient hours to meet the child care needs of families and not less than 1,380 hours per year.

(d) Licensing requirements. A family child-care provider must be licensed by the state, tribal, or local entity to provide services in their home or family-like setting. When state, tribal, or local requirements vary from Head Start requirements, the most stringent provision applies.

(e) Child development specialist. A program that offers the family child care option must provide a child development specialist to support family child care providers and ensure the provision of quality services at each family child care home. Child development specialists must:

(1) Conduct regular visits to each home, some of which are unannounced, not less than once every two weeks;

(2) Periodically verify compliance with either contract requirements or agency policy;

(3) Facilitate ongoing communication between program staff, family child care providers, and enrolled families; and,

(4) Provide recommendations for technical assistance and support the family child care provider in developing relationships with other child care professionals.

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§1302.24   Locally-designed program option variations.

(a) Waiver option. Programs may request to operate a locally-designed program option, including a combination of program options, to better meet the unique needs of their communities or to demonstrate or test alternative approaches for providing program services. In order to operate a locally-designed program option, programs must seek a waiver as described in this section and must deliver the full range of services, consistent with §1302.20(b), and demonstrate how any change to their program design is consistent with achieving program goals in subpart J of this part.

(b) Request for approval. A program's request to operate a locally-designed variation may be approved by the responsible HHS official through the end of a program's current grant or, if the request is submitted through a grant application for an upcoming project period, for the project period of the new award. Such approval may be revoked based on progress toward program goals as described in §1302.102 and monitoring as described in §1304.2.

(c) Waiver requirements. (1) The responsible HHS official may waive one or more of the requirements contained in §1302.21(b), (c)(1)(i), and (c)(2)(iii) and (iv); §1302.22(a) through (c); and §1302.23(b) and (c), but may not waive ratios or group size for children under 24 months. Center-based locally-designed options must meet the minimums described in section 640(k)(1) of the Act for center-based programs.

(2) If the responsible HHS official determines a waiver of group size for center-based services would better meet the needs of children and families in a community, the group size may not exceed the limits below:

(i) A group that serves children 24 to 36 months of age must have no more than ten children; and,

(ii) A group that serves predominantly three-year-old children must have no more than twenty children; and,

(iii) A group that serves predominantly four-year-old children must have no more than twenty-four children.

(3) If the responsible HHS official approves a waiver to allow a program to operate below the minimums described in §1302.21(c)(2)(iii) or (iv), a program must meet the requirements described in §1302.21(c)(2)(i), or in the case of a double session variation, a program must meet the requirements described in §1302.21(c)(2)(ii).

(4) In order to receive a waiver under this section, a program must provide supporting evidence that demonstrates the locally-designed variation effectively supports appropriate development and progress in children's early learning outcomes.

(5) In order to receive a waiver of service duration, a program must meet the requirement in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, provide supporting evidence that it better meets the needs of parents than the applicable service duration minimums described in §1302.21(c)(1) and (c)(2)(iii) and (iv), §1302.22(c), or §1302.23(c), and assess the effectiveness of the variation in supporting appropriate development and progress in children's early learning outcomes.

(d) Transition from previously approved program options. If, before November 7, 2016, a program was approved to operate a program option that is no longer allowable under §§1302.21 through 1302.23, a program may continue to operate that model until July 31, 2018.

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Subpart C—Education and Child Development Program Services

§1302.30   Purpose.

All programs must provide high-quality early education and child development services, including for children with disabilities, that promote children's cognitive, social, and emotional growth for later success in school. A center-based or family child care program must embed responsive and effective teacher-child interactions. A home-based program must promote secure parent-child relationships and help parents provide high-quality early learning experiences. All programs must implement a research-based curriculum, and screening and assessment procedures that support individualization and growth in the areas of development described in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five and support family engagement in children's learning and development. A program must deliver developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate learning experiences in language, literacy, mathematics, social and emotional functioning, approaches to learning, science, physical skills, and creative arts. To deliver such high-quality early education and child development services, a center-based or family child care program must implement, at a minimum, the elements contained in §§1302.31 through 1302.34, and a home-based program must implement, at a minimum, the elements in §§1302.33 and 1302.35.

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§1302.31   Teaching and the learning environment.

(a) Teaching and the learning environment. A center-based and family child care program must ensure teachers and other relevant staff provide responsive care, effective teaching, and an organized learning environment that promotes healthy development and children's skill growth aligned with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five, including for children with disabilities. A program must also support implementation of such environment with integration of regular and ongoing supervision and a system of individualized and ongoing professional development, as appropriate. This includes, at a minimum, the practices described in paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section.

(b) Effective teaching practices. (1) Teaching practices must:

(i) Emphasize nurturing and responsive practices, interactions, and environments that foster trust and emotional security; are communication and language rich; promote critical thinking and problem-solving; social, emotional, behavioral, and language development; provide supportive feedback for learning; motivate continued effort; and support all children's engagement in learning experiences and activities;

(ii) Focus on promoting growth in the developmental progressions described in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five by aligning with and using the Framework and the curricula as described in §1302.32 to direct planning of organized activities, schedules, lesson plans, and the implementation of high-quality early learning experiences that are responsive to and build upon each child's individual pattern of development and learning;

(iii) Integrate child assessment data in individual and group planning; and,

(iv) Include developmentally appropriate learning experiences in language, literacy, social and emotional development, math, science, social studies, creative arts, and physical development that are focused toward achieving progress outlined in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five.

(2) For dual language learners, a program must recognize bilingualism and biliteracy as strengths and implement research-based teaching practices that support their development. These practices must:

(i) For an infant or toddler dual language learner, include teaching practices that focus on the development of the home language, when there is a teacher with appropriate language competency, and experiences that expose the child to English;

(ii) For a preschool age dual language learner, include teaching practices that focus on both English language acquisition and the continued development of the home language; or,

(iii) If staff do not speak the home language of all children in the learning environment, include steps to support the development of the home language for dual language learners such as having culturally and linguistically appropriate materials available and other evidence-based strategies. Programs must work to identify volunteers who speak children's home language/s who could be trained to work in the classroom to support children's continued development of the home language.

(c) Learning environment. A program must ensure teachers implement well-organized learning environments with developmentally appropriate schedules, lesson plans, and indoor and outdoor learning experiences that provide adequate opportunities for choice, play, exploration, and experimentation among a variety of learning, sensory, and motor experiences and:

(1) For infants and toddlers, promote relational learning and include individualized and small group activities that integrate appropriate daily routines into a flexible schedule of learning experiences; and,

(2) For preschool age children, include teacher-directed and child-initiated activities, active and quiet learning activities, and opportunities for individual, small group, and large group learning activities.

(d) Materials and space for learning. To support implementation of the curriculum and the requirements described in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), and (e) of this section a program must provide age-appropriate equipment, materials, supplies and physical space for indoor and outdoor learning environments, including functional space. The equipment, materials and supplies must include any necessary accommodations and the space must be accessible to children with disabilities. Programs must change materials intentionally and periodically to support children's interests, development, and learning.

(e) Promoting learning through approaches to rest, meals, routines, and physical activity. (1) A program must implement an intentional, age appropriate approach to accommodate children's need to nap or rest, and that, for preschool age children in a program that operates for 6 hours or longer per day provides a regular time every day at which preschool age children are encouraged but not forced to rest or nap. A program must provide alternative quiet learning activities for children who do not need or want to rest or nap.

(2) A program must implement snack and meal times in ways that support development and learning. For bottle-fed infants, this approach must include holding infants during feeding to support socialization. Snack and meal times must be structured and used as learning opportunities that support teaching staff-child interactions and foster communication and conversations that contribute to a child's learning, development, and socialization. Programs are encouraged to meet this requirement with family style meals when developmentally appropriate. A program must also provide sufficient time for children to eat, not use food as reward or punishment, and not force children to finish their food.

(3) A program must approach routines, such as hand washing and diapering, and transitions between activities, as opportunities for strengthening development, learning, and skill growth.

(4) A program must recognize physical activity as important to learning and integrate intentional movement and physical activity into curricular activities and daily routines in ways that support health and learning. A program must not use physical activity as reward or punishment.

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§1302.32   Curricula.

(a) Curricula. (1) Center-based and family child care programs must implement developmentally appropriate research-based early childhood curricula, including additional curricular enhancements, as appropriate that:

(i) Are based on scientifically valid research and have standardized training procedures and curriculum materials to support implementation;

(ii) Are aligned with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five and, as appropriate, state early learning and development standards; and are sufficiently content-rich to promote measurable progress toward development and learning outlined in the Framework; and,

(iii) Have an organized developmental scope and sequence that include plans and materials for learning experiences based on developmental progressions and how children learn.

(2) A program must support staff to effectively implement curricula and at a minimum monitor curriculum implementation and fidelity, and provide support, feedback, and supervision for continuous improvement of its implementation through the system of training and professional development.

(b) Adaptation. A program that chooses to make significant adaptations to a curriculum or a curriculum enhancement described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section to better meet the needs of one or more specific populations must use an external early childhood education curriculum or content area expert to develop such significant adaptations. A program must assess whether the adaptation adequately facilitates progress toward meeting school readiness goals, consistent with the process described in §1302.102(b) and (c). Programs are encouraged to partner with outside evaluators in assessing such adaptations.

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§1302.33   Child screenings and assessments.

(a) Screening. (1) In collaboration with each child's parent and with parental consent, a program must complete or obtain a current developmental screening to identify concerns regarding a child's developmental, behavioral, motor, language, social, cognitive, and emotional skills within 45 calendar days of when the child first attends the program or, for the home-based program option, receives a home visit. A program that operates for 90 days or less must complete or obtain a current developmental screening within 30 calendar days of when the child first attends the program.

(2) A program must use one or more research-based developmental standardized screening tools to complete the screening. A program must use as part of the screening additional information from family members, teachers, and relevant staff familiar with the child's typical behavior.

(3) If warranted through screening and additional relevant information and with direct guidance from a mental health or child development professional a program must, with the parent's consent, promptly and appropriately address any needs identified through:

(i) Referral to the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA for a formal evaluation to assess the child's eligibility for services under IDEA as soon as possible, and not to exceed timelines required under IDEA; and,

(ii) Partnership with the child's parents and the relevant local agency to support families through the formal evaluation process.

(4) If a child is determined to be eligible for services under IDEA, the program must partner with parents and the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA, as appropriate, and deliver the services in subpart F of this part.

(5) If, after the formal evaluation described in paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section, the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA determines the child is not eligible for early intervention or special education and related services under IDEA, the program must:

(i) Seek guidance from a mental health or child development professional to determine if the formal evaluation shows the child has a significant delay in one or more areas of development that is likely to interfere with the child's development and school readiness; and,

(ii) If the child has a significant delay, partner with parents to help the family access services and supports to help address the child's identified needs.

(A) Such additional services and supports may be available through a child's health insurance or it may be appropriate for the program to provide needed services and supports under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act if the child satisfies the definition of disability in 29 U.S.C. 705(9)(b) of the Rehabilitation Act, to ensure that the child who satisfies the definition of disability in 29 U.S.C. 705(9)(b) of the Rehabilitation Act is not excluded from the program on the basis of disability.

(B) A program may use program funds for such services and supports when no other sources of funding are available.

(b) Assessment for individualization. (1) A program must conduct standardized and structured assessments, which may be observation-based or direct, for each child that provide ongoing information to evaluate the child's developmental level and progress in outcomes aligned to the goals described in the Head Start Early Learning Child Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five. Such assessments must result in usable information for teachers, home visitors, and parents and be conducted with sufficient frequency to allow for individualization within the program year.

(2) A program must regularly use information from paragraph (b)(1) of this section along with informal teacher observations and additional information from family and staff, as relevant, to determine a child's strengths and needs, inform and adjust strategies to better support individualized learning and improve teaching practices in center-based and family child care settings, and improve home visit strategies in home-based models.

(3) If warranted from the information gathered from paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section and with direct guidance from a mental health or child development professional and a parent's consent, a program must refer the child to the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA for a formal evaluation to assess a child's eligibility for services under IDEA.

(c) Characteristics of screenings and assessments. (1) Screenings and assessments must be valid and reliable for the population and purpose for which they will be used, including by being conducted by qualified and trained personnel, and being age, developmentally, culturally and linguistically appropriate, and appropriate for children with disabilities, as needed.

(2) If a program serves a child who speaks a language other than English, a program must use qualified bilingual staff, contractor, or consultant to:

(i) Assess language skills in English and in the child's home language, to assess both the child's progress in the home language and in English language acquisition;

(ii) Conduct screenings and assessments for domains other than language skills in the language or languages that best capture the child's development and skills in the specific domain; and,

(iii) Ensure those conducting the screening or assessment know and understand the child's language and culture and have sufficient skill level in the child's home language to accurately administer the screening or assessment and to record and understand the child's responses, interactions, and communications.

(3) If a program serves a child who speaks a language other than English and qualified bilingual staff, contractors, or consultants are not able to conduct screenings and assessments, a program must use an interpreter in conjunction with a qualified staff person to conduct screenings and assessments as described in paragraphs (c)(2)(i) through (iii) of this section.

(4) If a program serves a child who speaks a language other than English and can demonstrate that there is not a qualified bilingual staff person or interpreter, then screenings and assessments may be conducted in English. In such a case, a program must also gather and use other information, including structured observations over time and information gathered in a child's home language from the family, for use in evaluating the child's development and progress.

(d) Prohibitions on use of screening and assessment data. The use of screening and assessment items and data on any screening or assessment authorized under this subchapter by any agent of the federal government is prohibited for the purposes of ranking, comparing, or otherwise evaluating individual children for purposes other than research, training, or technical assistance, and is prohibited for the purposes of providing rewards or sanctions for individual children or staff. A program must not use screening or assessments to exclude children from enrollment or participation.

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§1302.34   Parent and family engagement in education and child development services.

(a) Purpose. Center-based and family child care programs must structure education and child development services to recognize parents' roles as children's lifelong educators, and to encourage parents to engage in their child's education.

(b) Engaging parents and family members. A program must offer opportunities for parents and family members to be involved in the program's education services and implement policies to ensure:

(1) The program's settings are open to parents during all program hours;

(2) Teachers regularly communicate with parents to ensure they are well-informed about their child's routines, activities, and behavior;

(3) Teachers hold parent conferences, as needed, but no less than two times per program year, to enhance the knowledge and understanding of both staff and parents of the child's education and developmental progress and activities in the program;

(4) Parents have the opportunity to learn about and to provide feedback on selected curricula and instructional materials used in the program;

(5) Parents and family members have opportunities to volunteer in the class and during group activities;

(6) Teachers inform parents, about the purposes of and the results from screenings and assessments and discuss their child's progress;

(7) Teachers, except those described in paragraph (b)(8) of this section, conduct at least two home visits per program year for each family, including one before the program year begins, if feasible, to engage the parents in the child's learning and development, except that such visits may take place at a program site or another safe location that affords privacy at the parent's request, or if a visit to the home presents significant safety hazards for staff; and,

(8) Teachers that serve migrant or seasonal families make every effort to conduct home visits to engage the family in the child's learning and development.

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§1302.35   Education in home-based programs.

(a) Purpose. A home-based program must provide home visits and group socialization activities that promote secure parent-child relationships and help parents provide high-quality early learning experiences in language, literacy, mathematics, social and emotional functioning, approaches to learning, science, physical skills, and creative arts. A program must implement a research-based curriculum that delivers developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate home visits and group socialization activities that support children's cognitive, social, and emotional growth for later success in school.

(b) Home-based program design. A home-based program must ensure all home visits are:

(1) Planned jointly by the home visitor and parents, and reflect the critical role of parents in the early learning and development of their children, including that the home visitor is able to effectively communicate with the parent, directly or through an interpreter;

(2) Planned using information from ongoing assessments that individualize learning experiences;

(3) Scheduled with sufficient time to serve all enrolled children in the home and conducted with parents and are not conducted when only babysitters or other temporary caregivers are present;

(4) Scheduled with sufficient time and appropriate staff to ensure effective delivery of services described in subparts D, E, F, and G of this part through home visiting, to the extent possible.

(c) Home visit experiences. A program that operates the home-based option must ensure all home visits focus on promoting high-quality early learning experiences in the home and growth towards the goals described in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five and must use such goals and the curriculum to plan home visit activities that implement:

(1) Age and developmentally appropriate, structured child-focused learning experiences;

(2) Strategies and activities that promote parents' ability to support the child's cognitive, social, emotional, language, literacy, and physical development;

(3) Strategies and activities that promote the home as a learning environment that is safe, nurturing, responsive, and language- and communication- rich;

(4) Research-based strategies and activities for children who are dual language learners that recognize bilingualism and biliteracy as strengths, and:

(i) For infants and toddlers, focus on the development of the home language, while providing experiences that expose both parents and children to English; and,

(ii) For preschoolers, focus on both English language acquisition and the continued development of the home language; and,

(5) Follow-up with the families to discuss learning experiences provided in the home between each visit, address concerns, and inform strategies to promote progress toward school readiness goals.

(d) Home-based curriculum. A program that operates the home-based option must:

(1) Ensure home-visiting and group socializations implement a developmentally appropriate research-based early childhood home-based curriculum that:

(i) Promotes the parent's role as the child's teacher through experiences focused on the parent-child relationship and, as appropriate, the family's traditions, culture, values, and beliefs;

(ii) Aligns with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five and, as appropriate, state early learning standards, and, is sufficiently content-rich within the Framework to promote measurable progress toward goals outlined in the Framework; and,

(iii) Has an organized developmental scope and sequence that includes plans and materials for learning experiences based on developmental progressions and how children learn.

(2) Support staff in the effective implementation of the curriculum and at a minimum monitor curriculum implementation and fidelity, and provide support, feedback, and supervision for continuous improvement of its implementation through the system of training and professional development.

(3) If a program chooses to make significant adaptations to a curriculum or curriculum enhancement to better meet the needs of one or more specific populations, a program must:

(i) Partner with early childhood education curriculum or content experts; and,

(ii) Assess whether the adaptation adequately facilitates progress toward meeting school readiness goals consistent with the process described in §1302.102(b) and (c).

(4) Provide parents with an opportunity to review selected curricula and instructional materials used in the program.

(e) Group socialization. (1) A program that operates the home-based option must ensure group socializations are planned jointly with families, conducted with both child and parent participation, occur in a classroom, community facility, home or field trip setting, as appropriate.

(2) Group socializations must be structured to:

(i) Provide age appropriate activities for participating children that are intentionally aligned to school readiness goals, the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five and the home-based curriculum; and,

(ii) Encourage parents to share experiences related to their children's development with other parents in order to strengthen parent-child relationships and to help promote parents understanding of child development;

(3) For parents with preschoolers, group socializations also must provide opportunities for parents to participate in activities that support parenting skill development or family partnership goals identified in §1302.52(c), as appropriate and must emphasize peer group interactions designed to promote children's social, emotional and language development, and progress towards school readiness goals, while encouraging parents to observe and actively participate in activities, as appropriate.

(f) Screening and assessments. A program that operates the home-based option must implement provisions in §1302.33 and inform parents about the purposes of and the results from screenings and assessments and discuss their child's progress.

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§1302.36   Tribal language preservation and revitalization.

A program that serves American Indian and Alaska Native children may integrate efforts to preserve, revitalize, restore, or maintain the tribal language for these children into program services. Such language preservation and revitalization efforts may include full immersion in the tribal language for the majority of the hours of planned class operations. If children's home language is English, exposure to English as described in §1302.31(b)(2)(i) and (ii) is not required.

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Subpart D—Health Program Services

§1302.40   Purpose.

(a) A program must provide high-quality health, oral health, mental health, and nutrition services that are developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate and that will support each child's growth and school readiness.

(b) A program must establish and maintain a Health Services Advisory Committee that includes Head Start parents, professionals, and other volunteers from the community.

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§1302.41   Collaboration and communication with parents.

(a) For all activities described in this part, programs must collaborate with parents as partners in the health and well-being of their children in a linguistically and culturally appropriate manner and communicate with parents about their child's health needs and development concerns in a timely and effective manner.

(b) At a minimum, a program must:

(1) Obtain advance authorization from the parent or other person with legal authority for all health and developmental procedures administered through the program or by contract or agreement, and, maintain written documentation if they refuse to give authorization for health services; and,

(2) Share with parents the policies for health emergencies that require rapid response on the part of staff or immediate medical attention.

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§1302.42   Child health status and care.

(a) Source of health care. (1) A program, within 30 calendar days after the child first attends the program or, for the home-based program option, receives a home visit, must consult with parents to determine whether each child has ongoing sources of continuous, accessible health care—provided by a health care professional that maintains the child's ongoing health record and is not primarily a source of emergency or urgent care—and health insurance coverage.

(2) If the child does not have such a source of ongoing care and health insurance coverage or access to care through the Indian Health Service, the program must assist families in accessing a source of care and health insurance that will meet these criteria, as quickly as possible.

(b) Ensuring up-to-date child health status. (1) Within 90 calendar days after the child first attends the program or, for the home-based program option, receives a home visit, with the exceptions noted in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, a program must:

(i) Obtain determinations from health care and oral health care professionals as to whether or not the child is up-to-date on a schedule of age appropriate preventive and primary medical and oral health care, based on: The well-child visits and dental periodicity schedules as prescribed by the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program of the Medicaid agency of the state in which they operate, immunization recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and any additional recommendations from the local Health Services Advisory Committee that are based on prevalent community health problems;

(ii) Assist parents with making arrangements to bring the child up-to-date as quickly as possible; and, if necessary, directly facilitate provision of health services to bring the child up-to-date with parent consent as described in §1302.41(b)(1).

(2) Within 45 calendar days after the child first attends the program or, for the home-based program option, receives a home visit, a program must either obtain or perform evidence-based vision and hearing screenings.

(3) If a program operates for 90 days or less, it has 30 days from the date the child first attends the program to satisfy paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section.

(4) A program must identify each child's nutritional health needs, taking into account available health information, including the child's health records, and family and staff concerns, including special dietary requirements, food allergies, and community nutrition issues as identified through the community assessment or by the Health Services Advisory Committee.

(c) Ongoing care. (1) A program must help parents continue to follow recommended schedules of well-child and oral health care.

(2) A program must implement periodic observations or other appropriate strategies for program staff and parents to identify any new or recurring developmental, medical, oral, or mental health concerns.

(3) A program must facilitate and monitor necessary oral health preventive care, treatment and follow-up, including topical fluoride treatments. In communities where there is a lack of adequate fluoride available through the water supply and for every child with moderate to severe tooth decay, a program must also facilitate fluoride supplements, and other necessary preventive measures, and further oral health treatment as recommended by the oral health professional.

(d) Extended follow-up care. (1) A program must facilitate further diagnostic testing, evaluation, treatment, and follow-up plan, as appropriate, by a licensed or certified professional for each child with a health problem or developmental delay, such as elevated lead levels or abnormal hearing or vision results that may affect child's development, learning, or behavior.

(2) A program must develop a system to track referrals and services provided and monitor the implementation of a follow-up plan to meet any treatment needs associated with a health, oral health, social and emotional, or developmental problem.

(3) A program must assist parents, as needed, in obtaining any prescribed medications, aids or equipment for medical and oral health conditions.

(e) Use of funds. (1) A program must use program funds for the provision of diapers and formula for enrolled children during the program day.

(2) A program may use program funds for professional medical and oral health services when no other source of funding is available. When program funds are used for such services, grantee and delegate agencies must have written documentation of their efforts to access other available sources of funding.

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§1302.43   Oral health practices.

A program must promote effective oral health hygiene by ensuring all children with teeth are assisted by appropriate staff, or volunteers, if available, in brushing their teeth with toothpaste containing fluoride once daily.

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§1302.44   Child nutrition.

(a) Nutrition service requirements. (1) A program must design and implement nutrition services that are culturally and developmentally appropriate, meet the nutritional needs of and accommodate the feeding requirements of each child, including children with special dietary needs and children with disabilities. Family style meals are encouraged as described in §1302.31(e)(2).

(2) Specifically, a program must:

(i) Ensure each child in a program that operates for fewer than six hours per day receives meals and snacks that provide one third to one half of the child's daily nutritional needs;

(ii) Ensure each child in a program that operates for six hours or more per day receives meals and snacks that provide one half to two thirds of the child's daily nutritional needs, depending upon the length of the program day;

(iii) Serve three- to five-year-olds meals and snacks that conform to USDA requirements in 7 CFR parts 210, 220, and 226, and are high in nutrients and low in fat, sugar, and salt;

(iv) Feed infants and toddlers according to their individual developmental readiness and feeding skills as recommended in USDA requirements outlined in 7 CFR parts 210, 220, and 226, and ensure infants and young toddlers are fed on demand to the extent possible;

(v) Ensure bottle-fed infants are never laid down to sleep with a bottle;

(vi) Serve all children in morning center-based settings who have not received breakfast upon arrival at the program a nourishing breakfast;

(vii) Provide appropriate healthy snacks and meals to each child during group socialization activities in the home-based option;

(viii) Promote breastfeeding, including providing facilities to properly store and handle breast milk and make accommodations, as necessary, for mothers who wish to breastfeed during program hours, and if necessary, provide referrals to lactation consultants or counselors; and,

(ix) Make safe drinking water available to children during the program day.

(b) Payment sources. A program must use funds from USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services child nutrition programs as the primary source of payment for meal services. Early Head Start and Head Start funds may be used to cover those allowable costs not covered by the USDA.

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§1302.45   Child mental health and social and emotional well-being.

(a) Wellness promotion. To support a program-wide culture that promotes children's mental health, social and emotional well-being, and overall health, a program must:

(1) Provide supports for effective classroom management and positive learning environments; supportive teacher practices; and, strategies for supporting children with challenging behaviors and other social, emotional, and mental health concerns;

(2) Secure mental health consultation services on a schedule of sufficient and consistent frequency to ensure a mental health consultant is available to partner with staff and families in a timely and effective manner;

(3) Obtain parental consent for mental health consultation services at enrollment; and,

(4) Build community partnerships to facilitate access to additional mental health resources and services, as needed.

(b) Mental health consultants. A program must ensure mental health consultants assist:

(1) The program to implement strategies to identify and support children with mental health and social and emotional concerns;

(2) Teachers, including family child care providers, to improve classroom management and teacher practices through strategies that include using classroom observations and consultations to address teacher and individual child needs and creating physical and cultural environments that promote positive mental health and social and emotional functioning;

(3) Other staff, including home visitors, to meet children's mental health and social and emotional needs through strategies that include observation and consultation;

(4) Staff to address prevalent child mental health concerns, including internalizing problems such as appearing withdrawn and externalizing problems such as challenging behaviors; and,

(5) In helping both parents and staff to understand mental health and access mental health interventions, if needed.

(6) In the implementation of the policies to limit suspension and prohibit expulsion as described in §1302.17.

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§1302.46   Family support services for health, nutrition, and mental health.

(a) Parent collaboration. Programs must collaborate with parents to promote children's health and well-being by providing medical, oral, nutrition and mental health education support services that are understandable to individuals, including individuals with low health literacy.

(b) Opportunities. (1) Such collaboration must include opportunities for parents to:

(i) Learn about preventive medical and oral health care, emergency first aid, environmental hazards, and health and safety practices for the home including health and developmental consequences of tobacco products use and exposure to lead, and safe sleep;

(ii) Discuss their child's nutritional status with staff, including the importance of physical activity, healthy eating, and the negative health consequences of sugar-sweetened beverages, and how to select and prepare nutritious foods that meet the family's nutrition and food budget needs;

(iii) Learn about healthy pregnancy and postpartum care, as appropriate, including breastfeeding support and treatment options for parental mental health or substance abuse problems, including perinatal depression;

(iv) Discuss with staff and identify issues related to child mental health and social and emotional well-being, including observations and any concerns about their child's mental health, typical and atypical behavior and development, and how to appropriately respond to their child and promote their child's social and emotional development; and,

(v) Learn about appropriate vehicle and pedestrian safety for keeping children safe.

(2) A program must provide ongoing support to assist parents' navigation through health systems to meet the general health and specifically identified needs of their children and must assist parents:

(i) In understanding how to access health insurance for themselves and their families, including information about private and public health insurance and designated enrollment periods;

(ii) In understanding the results of diagnostic and treatment procedures as well as plans for ongoing care; and,

(iii) In familiarizing their children with services they will receive while enrolled in the program and to enroll and participate in a system of ongoing family health care.

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§1302.47   Safety practices.

(a) A program must establish, train staff on, implement, and enforce a system of health and safety practices that ensure children are kept safe at all times. A program should consult Caring for our Children Basics, available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ecd/caring_for_our_children_basics.pdf, for additional information to develop and implement adequate safety policies and practices described in this part.

(b) A program must develop and implement a system of management, including ongoing training, oversight, correction and continuous improvement in accordance with §1302.102, that includes policies and practices to ensure all facilities, equipment and materials, background checks, safety training, safety and hygiene practices and administrative safety procedures are adequate to ensure child safety. This system must ensure:

(1) Facilities. All facilities where children are served, including areas for learning, playing, sleeping, toileting, and eating are, at a minimum:

(i) Meet licensing requirements in accordance with §§1302.21(d)(1) and 1302.23(d);

(ii) Clean and free from pests;

(iii) Free from pollutants, hazards and toxins that are accessible to children and could endanger children's safety;

(iv) Designed to prevent child injury and free from hazards, including choking, strangulation, electrical, and drowning hazards, hazards posed by appliances and all other safety hazards;

(v) Well lit, including emergency lighting;

(vi) Equipped with safety supplies that are readily accessible to staff, including, at a minimum, fully-equipped and up-to-date first aid kits and appropriate fire safety supplies;

(vii) Free from firearms or other weapons that are accessible to children;

(viii) Designed to separate toileting and diapering areas from areas for preparing food, cooking, eating, or children's activities; and,

(ix) Kept safe through an ongoing system of preventative maintenance.

(2) Equipment and materials. Indoor and outdoor play equipment, cribs, cots, feeding chairs, strollers, and other equipment used in the care of enrolled children, and as applicable, other equipment and materials meet standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or the American Society for Testing and Materials, International (ASTM). All equipment and materials must at a minimum:

(i) Be clean and safe for children's use and are appropriately disinfected;

(ii) Be accessible only to children for whom they are age appropriate;

(iii) Be designed to ensure appropriate supervision of children at all times;

(iv) Allow for the separation of infants and toddlers from preschoolers during play in center-based programs; and,

(v) Be kept safe through an ongoing system of preventative maintenance.

(3) Background checks. All staff have complete background checks in accordance with §1302.90(b).

(4) Safety training—(i) Staff with regular child contact. All staff with regular child contact have initial orientation training within three months of hire and ongoing training in all state, local, tribal, federal and program-developed health, safety and child care requirements to ensure the safety of children in their care; including, at a minimum, and as appropriate based on staff roles and ages of children they work with, training in:

(A) The prevention and control of infectious diseases;

(B) Prevention of sudden infant death syndrome and use of safe sleeping practices;

(C) Administration of medication, consistent with standards for parental consent;

(D) Prevention and response to emergencies due to food and allergic reactions;

(E) Building and physical premises safety, including identification of and protection from hazards, bodies of water, and vehicular traffic;

(F) Prevention of shaken baby syndrome, abusive head trauma, and child maltreatment;

(G) Emergency preparedness and response planning for emergencies;

(H) Handling and storage of hazardous materials and the appropriate disposal of biocontaminants;

(I) Appropriate precautions in transporting children, if applicable;

(J) First aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation; and,

(K) Recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect, in accordance with the requirement at paragraph (b)(5) of this section.

(ii) Staff without regular child contact. All staff with no regular responsibility for or contact with children have initial orientation training within three months of hire; ongoing training in all state, local, tribal, federal and program-developed health and safety requirements applicable to their work; and training in the program's emergency and disaster preparedness procedures.

(5) Safety practices. All staff and consultants follow appropriate practices to keep children safe during all activities, including, at a minimum:

(i) Reporting of suspected or known child abuse and neglect, including that staff comply with applicable federal, state, local, and tribal laws;

(ii) Safe sleep practices, including ensuring that all sleeping arrangements for children under 18 months of age use firm mattresses or cots, as appropriate, and for children under 12 months, soft bedding materials or toys must not be used;

(iii) Appropriate indoor and outdoor supervision of children at all times;

(iv) Only releasing children to an authorized adult, and;

(v) All standards of conduct described in §1302.90(c).

(6) Hygiene practices. All staff systematically and routinely implement hygiene practices that at a minimum ensure:

(i) Appropriate toileting, hand washing, and diapering procedures are followed;

(ii) Safe food preparation; and,

(iii) Exposure to blood and body fluids are handled consistent with standards of the Occupational Safety Health Administration.

(7) Administrative safety procedures. Programs establish, follow, and practice, as appropriate, procedures for, at a minimum:

(i) Emergencies;

(ii) Fire prevention and response;

(iii) Protection from contagious disease, including appropriate inclusion and exclusion policies for when a child is ill, and from an infectious disease outbreak, including appropriate notifications of any reportable illness;

(iv) The handling, storage, administration, and record of administration of medication;

(v) Maintaining procedures and systems to ensure children are only released to an authorized adult; and,

(vi) Child specific health care needs and food allergies that include accessible plans of action for emergencies. For food allergies, a program must also post individual child food allergies prominently where staff can view wherever food is served.

(8) Disaster preparedness plan. The program has all-hazards emergency management/disaster preparedness and response plans for more and less likely events including natural and manmade disasters and emergencies, and violence in or near programs.

(c) A program must report any safety incidents in accordance with §1302.102(d)(1)(ii).

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Subpart E—Family and Community Engagement Program Services

§1302.50   Family engagement.

(a) Purpose. A program must integrate parent and family engagement strategies into all systems and program services to support family well-being and promote children's learning and development. Programs are encouraged to develop innovative two-generation approaches that address prevalent needs of families across their program that may leverage community partnerships or other funding sources.

(b) Family engagement approach. A program must:

(1) Recognize parents as their children's primary teachers and nurturers and implement intentional strategies to engage parents in their children's learning and development and support parent-child relationships, including specific strategies for father engagement;

(2) Develop relationships with parents and structure services to encourage trust and respectful, ongoing two-way communication between staff and parents to create welcoming program environments that incorporate the unique cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds of families in the program and community;

(3) Collaborate with families in a family partnership process that identifies needs, interests, strengths, goals, and services and resources that support family well-being, including family safety, health, and economic stability;

(4) Provide parents with opportunities to participate in the program as employees or volunteers;

(5) Conduct family engagement services in the family's preferred language, or through an interpreter, to the extent possible, and ensure families have the opportunity to share personal information in an environment in which they feel safe; and,

(6) Implement procedures for teachers, home visitors, and family support staff to share information with each other, as appropriate and consistent with the requirements in part 1303, subpart C, of this chapter; FERPA; or IDEA, to ensure coordinated family engagement strategies with children and families in the classroom, home, and community.

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§1302.51   Parent activities to promote child learning and development.

(a) A program must promote shared responsibility with parents for children's early learning and development, and implement family engagement strategies that are designed to foster parental confidence and skills in promoting children's learning and development. These strategies must include:

(1) Offering activities that support parent-child relationships and child development including language, dual language, literacy, and bi-literacy development as appropriate;

(2) Providing parents with information about the importance of their child's regular attendance, and partner with them, as necessary, to promote consistent attendance; and,

(3) For dual language learners, information and resources for parents about the benefits of bilingualism and biliteracy.

(b) A program must, at a minimum, offer opportunities for parents to participate in a research-based parenting curriculum that builds on parents' knowledge and offers parents the opportunity to practice parenting skills to promote children's learning and development. A program that chooses to make significant adaptations to the parenting curriculum to better meet the needs of one or more specific populations must work with an expert or experts to develop such adaptations.

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§1302.52   Family partnership services.

(a) Family partnership process. A program must implement a family partnership process that includes a family partnership agreement and the activities described in this section to support family well-being, including family safety, health, and economic stability, to support child learning and development, to provide, if applicable, services and supports for children with disabilities, and to foster parental confidence and skills that promote the early learning and development of their children. The process must be initiated as early in the program year as possible and continue for as long as the family participates in the program, based on parent interest and need.

(b) Identification of family strengths and needs. A program must implement intake and family assessment procedures to identify family strengths and needs related to the family engagement outcomes as described in the Head Start Parent Family and Community Engagement Framework, including family well-being, parent-child relationships, families as lifelong educators, families as learners, family engagement in transitions, family connections to peers and the local community, and families as advocates and leaders.

(c) Individualized family partnership services. A program must offer individualized family partnership services that:

(1) Collaborate with families to identify interests, needs, and aspirations related to the family engagement outcomes described in paragraph (b) of this section;

(2) Help families achieve identified individualized family engagement outcomes;

(3) Establish and implement a family partnership agreement process that is jointly developed and shared with parents in which staff and families review individual progress, revise goals, evaluate and track whether identified needs and goals are met, and adjust strategies on an ongoing basis, as necessary, and;

(4) Assign staff and resources based on the urgency and intensity of identified family needs and goals.

(d) Existing plans and community resources. In implementing this section, a program must take into consideration any existing plans for the family made with other community agencies and availability of other community resources to address family needs, strengths, and goals, in order to avoid duplication of effort.

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§1302.53   Community partnerships and coordination with other early childhood and education programs.

(a) Community partnerships. (1) A program must establish ongoing collaborative relationships and partnerships with community organizations such as establishing joint agreements, procedures, or contracts and arranging for onsite delivery of services as appropriate, to facilitate access to community services that are responsive to children's and families' needs and family partnership goals, and community needs and resources, as determined by the community assessment.

(2) A program must establish necessary collaborative relationships and partnerships, with community organizations that may include:

(i) Health care providers, including child and adult mental health professionals, Medicaid managed care networks, dentists, other health professionals, nutritional service providers, providers of prenatal and postnatal support, and substance abuse treatment providers;

(ii) Individuals and agencies that provide services to children with disabilities and their families, elementary schools, state preschool providers, and providers of child care services;

(iii) Family preservation and support services and child protective services and any other agency to which child abuse must be reported under state or tribal law;

(iv) Educational and cultural institutions, such as libraries and museums, for both children and families;

(v) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, nutrition assistance agencies, workforce development and training programs, adult or family literacy, adult education, and post-secondary education institutions, and agencies or financial institutions that provide asset-building education, products and services to enhance family financial stability and savings;

(vi) Housing assistance agencies and providers of support for children and families experiencing homelessness, including the local educational agency liaison designated under section 722(g)(1)(J)(ii) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.);

(vii) Domestic violence prevention and support providers; and,

(viii) Other organizations or businesses that may provide support and resources to families.

(b) Coordination with other programs and systems. A program must take an active role in promoting coordinated systems of comprehensive early childhood services to low-income children and families in their community through communication, cooperation, and the sharing of information among agencies and their community partners, while protecting the privacy of child records in accordance with subpart C of part 1303 of this chapter and applicable federal, state, local, and tribal laws.

(1) Memorandum of understanding. To support coordination between Head Start and publicly funded preschool programs, a program must enter into a memorandum of understanding with the appropriate local entity responsible for managing publicly funded preschool programs in the service area of the program, as described in section 642(e)(5) of the Act.

(2) Quality Rating and Improvement Systems. A program, with the exception of American Indian and Alaska Native programs, must participate in its state or local Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) if:

(i) Its state or local QRIS accepts Head Start monitoring data to document quality indicators included in the state's tiered system;

(ii) Participation would not impact a program's ability to comply with the Head Start Program Performance Standards; and,

(iii) The program has not provided the Office of Head Start with a compelling reason not to comply with this requirement.

(3) Data systems. A program, with the exception of American Indian and Alaska Native programs unless they would like to and to the extent practicable, should integrate and share relevant data with state education data systems, to the extent practicable, if the program can receive similar support and benefits as other participating early childhood programs.

(4) American Indian and Alaska Native programs. An American Indian and Alaska Native program should determine whether or not it will participate in the systems described in paragraphs (b)(2) and (3) of this section.

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Subpart F—Additional Services for Children With Disabilities

§1302.60   Full participation in program services and activities.

A program must ensure enrolled children with disabilities, including but not limited to those who are eligible for services under IDEA, and their families receive all applicable program services delivered in the least restrictive possible environment and that they fully participate in all program activities.

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§1302.61   Additional services for children.

(a) Additional services for children with disabilities. Programs must ensure the individualized needs of children with disabilities, including but not limited to those eligible for services under IDEA, are being met and all children have access to and can fully participate in the full range of activities and services. Programs must provide any necessary modifications to the environment, multiple and varied formats for instruction, and individualized accommodations and supports as necessary to support the full participation of children with disabilities. Programs must ensure all individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination under and provided with all services and program modifications required by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794), the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.), and their implementing regulations.

(b) Services during IDEA eligibility determination. While the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA determines a child's eligibility, a program must provide individualized services and supports, to the maximum extent possible, to meet the child's needs. Such additional supports may be available through a child's health insurance or it may be appropriate or required to provide the needed services and supports under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act if the child satisfies the definition of disability in section 705(9)(b) of the Rehabilitation Act. When such supports are not available through alternate means, pending the evaluation results and eligibility determination, a program must individualize program services based on available information such as parent input and child observation and assessment data and may use program funds for these purposes.

(c) Additional services for children with an IFSP or IEP. To ensure the individual needs of children eligible for services under IDEA are met, a program must:

(1) Work closely with the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA, the family, and other service partners, as appropriate, to ensure:

(i) Services for a child with disabilities will be planned and delivered as required by their IFSP or IEP, as appropriate;

(ii) Children are working towards the goals in their IFSP or IEP;

(iii) Elements of the IFSP or IEP that the program cannot implement are implemented by other appropriate agencies, related service providers and specialists;

(iv) IFSPs and IEPs are being reviewed and revised, as required by IDEA; and,

(v) Services are provided in a child's regular Early Head Start or Head Start classroom or family child care home to the greatest extent possible.

(2) Plan and implement the transition services described in subpart G of this part, including at a minimum:

(i) For children with an IFSP who are transitioning out of Early Head Start, collaborate with the parents, and the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA, to ensure appropriate steps are undertaken in a timely and appropriate manner to determine the child's eligibility for services under Part B of IDEA; and,

(ii) For children with an IEP who are transitioning out of Head Start to kindergarten, collaborate with the parents, and the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA, to ensure steps are undertaken in a timely and appropriate manner to support the child and family as they transition to a new setting.

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§1302.62   Additional services for parents.

(a) Parents of all children with disabilities. (1) A program must collaborate with parents of children with disabilities, including but not limited to children eligible for services under IDEA, to ensure the needs of their children are being met, including support to help parents become advocates for services that meet their children's needs and information and skills to help parents understand their child's disability and how to best support the child's development;

(2) A program must assist parents to access services and resources for their family, including securing adaptive equipment and devices and supports available through a child's health insurance or other entities, creating linkages to family support programs, and helping parents establish eligibility for additional support programs, as needed and practicable.

(b) Parents of children eligible for services under IDEA. For parents of children eligible for services under IDEA, a program must also help parents:

(1) Understand the referral, evaluation, and service timelines required under IDEA;

(2) Actively participate in the eligibility process and IFSP or IEP development process with the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA, including by informing parents of their right to invite the program to participate in all meetings;

(3) Understand the purposes and results of evaluations and services provided under an IFSP or IEP; and,

(4) Ensure their children's needs are accurately identified in, and addressed through, the IFSP or IEP.

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§1302.63   Coordination and collaboration with the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA.

(a) A program must coordinate with the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA to identify children enrolled or who intend to enroll in a program that may be eligible for services under IDEA, including through the process described in §1302.33(a)(3) and through participation in the local agency Child Find efforts.

(b) A program must work to develop interagency agreements with the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA to improve service delivery to children eligible for services under IDEA, including the referral and evaluation process, service coordination, promotion of service provision in the least restrictive appropriate community-based setting and reduction in dual enrollment which causes reduced time in a less restrictive setting, and transition services as children move from services provided under Part C of IDEA to services provided under Part B of IDEA and from preschool to kindergarten.

(c) A program must participate in the development of the IFSP or IEP if requested by the child's parents, and the implementation of the IFSP or IEP. At a minimum, the program must offer:

(1) To provide relevant information from its screenings, assessments, and observations to the team developing a child's IFSP or IEP; and,

(2) To participate in meetings with the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA to develop or review an IEP or IFSP for a child being considered for Head Start enrollment, a currently enrolled child, or a child transitioning from a program.

(d) A program must retain a copy of the IEP or IFSP for any child enrolled in Head Start for the time the child is in the program, consistent with the IDEA requirements in 34 CFR parts 300 and 303.

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Subpart G—Transition Services

§1302.70   Transitions from Early Head Start.

(a) Implementing transition strategies and practices. An Early Head Start program must implement strategies and practices to support successful transitions for children and their families transitioning out of Early Head Start.

(b) Timing for transitions. To ensure the most appropriate placement and service following participation in Early Head Start, such programs must, at least six months prior to each child's third birthday, implement transition planning for each child and family that:

(1) Takes into account the child's developmental level and health and disability status, progress made by the child and family while in Early Head Start, current and changing family circumstances and, the availability of Head Start, other public pre-kindergarten, and other early education and child development services in the community that will meet the needs of the child and family; and,

(2) Transitions the child into Head Start or another program as soon as possible after the child's third birthday but permits the child to remain in Early Head Start for a limited number of additional months following the child's third birthday if necessary for an appropriate transition.

(c) Family collaborations. A program must collaborate with parents of Early Head Start children to implement strategies and activities that support successful transitions from Early Head Start and, at a minimum, provide information about the child's progress during the program year and provide strategies for parents to continue their involvement in and advocacy for the education and development of their child.

(d) Early Head Start and Head Start collaboration. Early Head Start and Head Start programs must work together to maximize enrollment transitions from Early Head Start to Head Start, consistent with the eligibility provisions in subpart A, and promote successful transitions through collaboration and communication.

(e) Transition services for children with an IFSP. A program must provide additional transition services for children with an IFSP, at a minimum, as described in subpart F of this part.

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§1302.71   Transitions from Head Start to kindergarten.

(a) Implementing transition strategies and practices. A program that serves children who will enter kindergarten in the following year must implement transition strategies to support a successful transition to kindergarten.

(b) Family collaborations for transitions. (1) A program must collaborate with parents of enrolled children to implement strategies and activities that will help parents advocate for and promote successful transitions to kindergarten for their children, including their continued involvement in the education and development of their child.

(2) At a minimum, such strategies and activities must:

(i) Help parents understand their child's progress during Head Start;

(ii) Help parents understand practices they use to effectively provide academic and social support for their children during their transition to kindergarten and foster their continued involvement in the education of their child;

(iii) Prepare parents to exercise their rights and responsibilities concerning the education of their children in the elementary school setting, including services and supports available to children with disabilities and various options for their child to participate in language instruction educational programs; and,

(iv) Assist parents in the ongoing communication with teachers and other school personnel so that parents can participate in decisions related to their children's education.

(c) Community collaborations for transitions. (1) A program must collaborate with local education agencies to support family engagement under section 642(b)(13) of the Act and state departments of education, as appropriate, and kindergarten teachers to implement strategies and activities that promote successful transitions to kindergarten for children, their families, and the elementary school.

(2) At a minimum, such strategies and activities must include:

(i) Coordination with schools or other appropriate agencies to ensure children's relevant records are transferred to the school or next placement in which a child will enroll, consistent with privacy requirements in subpart C of part 1303 of this chapter;

(ii) Communication between appropriate staff and their counterparts in the schools to facilitate continuity of learning and development, consistent with privacy requirements in subpart C of part 1303 of this chapter; and,

(iii) Participation, as possible, for joint training and professional development activities for Head Start and kindergarten teachers and staff.

(3) A program that does not operate during the summer must collaborate with school districts to determine the availability of summer school programming for children who will be entering kindergarten and work with parents and school districts to enroll children in such programs, as appropriate.

(d) Learning environment activities. A program must implement strategies and activities in the learning environment that promote successful transitions to kindergarten for enrolled children, and at a minimum, include approaches that familiarize children with the transition to kindergarten and foster confidence about such transition.

(e) Transition services for children with an IEP. A program must provide additional transition services for children with an IEP, at a minimum, as described in subpart F of this part.

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§1302.72   Transitions between programs.

(a) For families and children who move out of the community in which they are currently served, including homeless families and foster children, a program must undertake efforts to support effective transitions to other Early Head Start or Head Start programs. If Early Head Start or Head Start is not available, the program should assist the family to identify another early childhood program that meets their needs.

(b) A program that serves children whose families have decided to transition them to other early education programs, including public pre-kindergarten, in the year prior to kindergarten entry must undertake strategies and activities described in §1302.71(b) and (c)(1) and (2), as practicable and appropriate.

(c) A migrant or seasonal Head Start program must undertake efforts to support effective transitions to other migrant or seasonal Head Start or, if appropriate, Early Head Start or Head Start programs for families and children moving out of the community in which they are currently served.

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Subpart H—Services to Enrolled Pregnant Women

§1302.80   Enrolled pregnant women.

(a) Within 30 days of enrollment, a program must determine whether each enrolled pregnant woman has an ongoing source of continuous, accessible health care—provided by a health care professional that maintains her ongoing health record and is not primarily a source of emergency or urgent care—and, as appropriate, health insurance coverage.

(b) If an enrolled pregnant woman does not have a source of ongoing care as described in paragraph (a) of this section and, as appropriate, health insurance coverage, a program must, as quickly as possible, facilitate her access to such a source of care that will meet her needs.

(c) A program must facilitate the ability of all enrolled pregnant women to access comprehensive services through referrals that, at a minimum, include nutritional counseling, food assistance, oral health care, mental health services, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and emergency shelter or transitional housing in cases of domestic violence.

(d) A program must provide a newborn visit with each mother and baby to offer support and identify family needs. A program must schedule the newborn visit within two weeks after the infant's birth.

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§1302.81   Prenatal and postpartum information, education, and services.

(a) A program must provide enrolled pregnant women, fathers, and partners or other relevant family members the prenatal and postpartum information, education and services that address, as appropriate, fetal development, the importance of nutrition, the risks of alcohol, drugs, and smoking, labor and delivery, postpartum recovery, parental depression, infant care and safe sleep practices, and the benefits of breastfeeding.

(b) A program must also address needs for appropriate supports for emotional well-being, nurturing and responsive caregiving, and father engagement during pregnancy and early childhood.

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§1302.82   Family partnership services for enrolled pregnant women.

(a) A program must engage enrolled pregnant women and other relevant family members, such as fathers, in the family partnership services as described in §1302.52 and include a specific focus on factors that influence prenatal and postpartum maternal and infant health.

(b) A program must engage enrolled pregnant women and other relevant family members, such as fathers, in discussions about program options, plan for the infant's transition to program enrollment, and support the family during the transition process, where appropriate.

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Subpart I—Human Resources Management

§1302.90   Personnel policies.

(a) Establishing personnel policies and procedures. A program must establish written personnel policies and procedures that are approved by the governing body and policy council or policy committee and that are available to all staff.

(b) Background checks and selection procedures. (1) Before a person is hired, directly or through contract, including transportation staff and contractors, a program must conduct an interview, verify references, conduct a sex offender registry check and obtain one of the following:

(i) State or tribal criminal history records, including fingerprint checks; or,

(ii) Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history records, including fingerprint checks.

(2) A program has 90 days after an employee is hired to complete the background check process by obtaining:

(i) Whichever check listed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section was not obtained prior to the date of hire; and,

(ii) Child abuse and neglect state registry check, if available.

(3) A program must review the information found in each employment application and complete background check to assess the relevancy of any issue uncovered by the complete background check including any arrest, pending criminal charge, or conviction and must use Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) disqualification factors described in 42 U.S.C. 9858f(c)(1)(D) and 42 U.S.C. 9858f(h)(1) or tribal disqualifications factors to determine whether the prospective employee can be hired or the current employee must be terminated.

(4) A program must ensure a newly hired employee, consultant, or contractor does not have unsupervised access to children until the complete background check process described in paragraphs (b)(1) through (3) of this section is complete.

(5) A program must conduct the complete background check for each employee, consultant, or contractor at least once every five years which must include each of the four checks listed in paragraphs (b)(1) and (2) of this section, and review and make employment decisions based on the information as described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, unless the program can demonstrate to the responsible HHS official that it has a more stringent system in place that will ensure child safety.

(6) A program must consider current and former program parents for employment vacancies for which such parents apply and are qualified.

(c) Standards of conduct. (1) A program must ensure all staff, consultants, contractors, and volunteers abide by the program's standards of conduct that:

(i) Ensure staff, consultants, contractors, and volunteers implement positive strategies to support children's well-being and prevent and address challenging behavior;

(ii) Ensure staff, consultants, contractors, and volunteers do not maltreat or endanger the health or safety of children, including, at a minimum, that staff must not:

(A) Use corporal punishment;

(B) Use isolation to discipline a child;

(C) Bind or tie a child to restrict movement or tape a child's mouth;

(D) Use or withhold food as a punishment or reward;

(E) Use toilet learning/training methods that punish, demean, or humiliate a child;

(F) Use any form of emotional abuse, including public or private humiliation, rejecting, terrorizing, extended ignoring, or corrupting a child;

(G) Physically abuse a child;

(H) Use any form of verbal abuse, including profane, sarcastic language, threats, or derogatory remarks about the child or child's family; or,

(I) Use physical activity or outdoor time as a punishment or reward;

(iii) Ensure staff, consultants, contractors, and volunteers respect and promote the unique identity of each child and family and do not stereotype on any basis, including gender, race, ethnicity, culture, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or family composition;

(iv) Require staff, consultants, contractors, and volunteers to comply with program confidentiality policies concerning personally identifiable information about children, families, and other staff members in accordance with subpart C of part 1303 of this chapter and applicable federal, state, local, and tribal laws; and,

(v) Ensure no child is left alone or unsupervised by staff, consultants, contractors, or volunteers while under their care.

(2) Personnel policies and procedures must include appropriate penalties for staff, consultants, and volunteers who violate the standards of conduct.

(d) Communication with dual language learners and their families. (1) A program must ensure staff and program consultants or contractors are familiar with the ethnic backgrounds and heritages of families in the program and are able to serve and effectively communicate, either directly or through interpretation and translation, with children who are dual language learners and to the extent feasible, with families with limited English proficiency.

(2) If a majority of children in a class or home-based program speak the same language, at least one class staff member or home visitor must speak such language.

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§1302.91   Staff qualifications and competency requirements.

(a) Purpose. A program must ensure all staff, consultants, and contractors engaged in the delivery of program services have sufficient knowledge, training and experience, and competencies to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of their positions and to ensure high-quality service delivery in accordance with the program performance standards. A program must provide ongoing training and professional development to support staff in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities.

(b) Early Head Start or Head Start director. A program must ensure an Early Head Start or Head Start director hired after November 7, 2016, has, at a minimum, a baccalaureate degree and experience in supervision of staff, fiscal management, and administration.

(c) Fiscal officer. A program must assess staffing needs in consideration of the fiscal complexity of the organization and applicable financial management requirements and secure the regularly scheduled or ongoing services of a fiscal officer with sufficient education and experience to meet their needs. A program must ensure a fiscal officer hired after November 7, 2016, is a certified public accountant or has, at a minimum, a baccalaureate degree in accounting, business, fiscal management, or a related field.

(d) Child and family services management staff qualification requirements—(1) Family, health, and disabilities management. A program must ensure staff responsible for management and oversight of family services, health services, and services to children with disabilities hired after November 7, 2016, have, at a minimum, a baccalaureate degree, preferably related to one or more of the disciplines they oversee.

(2) Education management. As prescribed in section 648A(a)(2)(B)(i) of the Act, a program must ensure staff and consultants that serve as education managers or coordinators, including those that serve as curriculum specialists, have a baccalaureate or advanced degree in early childhood education or a baccalaureate or advanced degree and equivalent coursework in early childhood education with early education teaching experience.

(e) Child and family services staff—(1) Early Head Start center-based teacher qualification requirements. As prescribed in section 645A(h) of the Act, a program must ensure center-based teachers that provide direct services to infants and toddlers in Early Head Start centers have a minimum of a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or comparable credential, and have been trained or have equivalent coursework in early childhood development with a focus on infant and toddler development.

(2) Head Start center-based teacher qualification requirements. (i) The Secretary must ensure no less than fifty percent of all Head Start teachers, nationwide, have a baccalaureate degree in child development, early childhood education, or equivalent coursework.

(ii) As prescribed in section 648A(a)(3)(B) of the Act, a program must ensure all center-based teachers have at least an associate's or bachelor's degree in child development or early childhood education, equivalent coursework, or otherwise meet the requirements of section 648A(a)(3)(B) of the Act.

(3) Head Start assistant teacher qualification requirements. As prescribed in section 648A(a)(2)(B)(ii) of the Act, a program must ensure Head Start assistant teachers, at a minimum, have a CDA credential or a state-awarded certificate that meets or exceeds the requirements for a CDA credential, are enrolled in a program that will lead to an associate or baccalaureate degree or, are enrolled in a CDA credential program to be completed within two years of the time of hire.

(4) Family child care provider qualification requirements. (i) A program must ensure family child care providers have previous early child care experience and, at a minimum, are enrolled in a Family Child Care CDA program or state equivalent, or an associate's or baccalaureate degree program in child development or early childhood education prior to beginning service provision, and for the credential acquire it within eighteen months of beginning to provide services.

(ii) By August 1, 2018, a child development specialist, as required for family child care in §1302.23(e), must have, at a minimum, a baccalaureate degree in child development, early childhood education, or a related field.

(5) Center-based teachers, assistant teachers, and family child care provider competencies. A program must ensure center-based teachers, assistant teachers, and family child care providers demonstrate competency to provide effective and nurturing teacher-child interactions, plan and implement learning experiences that ensure effective curriculum implementation and use of assessment and promote children's progress across the standards described in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five and applicable state early learning and development standards, including for children with disabilities and dual language learners, as appropriate.

(6) Home visitors. A program must ensure home visitors providing home-based education services:

(i) Have a minimum of a home-based CDA credential or comparable credential, or equivalent coursework as part of an associate's or bachelor's degree; and,

(ii) Demonstrate competency to plan and implement home-based learning experiences that ensure effective implementation of the home visiting curriculum and promote children's progress across the standards described in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five, including for children with disabilities and dual language learners, as appropriate, and to build respectful, culturally responsive, and trusting relationships with families.

(7) Family services staff qualification requirements. A program must ensure staff who work directly with families on the family partnership process hired after November 7, 2016, have within eighteen months of hire, at a minimum, a credential or certification in social work, human services, family services, counseling or a related field.

(8) Health professional qualification requirements. (i) A program must ensure health procedures are performed only by a licensed or certified health professional.

(ii) A program must ensure all mental health consultants are licensed or certified mental health professionals. A program must use mental health consultants with knowledge of and experience in serving young children and their families, if available in the community.

(iii) A program must use staff or consultants to support nutrition services who are registered dieticians or nutritionists with appropriate qualifications.

(f) Coaches. A program must ensure coaches providing the services described in §1302.92(c) have a minimum of a baccalaureate degree in early childhood education or a related field.

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§1302.92   Training and professional development.

(a) A program must provide to all new staff, consultants, and volunteers an orientation that focuses on, at a minimum, the goals and underlying philosophy of the program and on the ways they are implemented.

(b) A program must establish and implement a systematic approach to staff training and professional development designed to assist staff in acquiring or increasing the knowledge and skills needed to provide high-quality, comprehensive services within the scope of their job responsibilities, and attached to academic credit as appropriate. At a minimum, the system must include:

(1) Staff completing a minimum of 15 clock hours of professional development per year. For teaching staff, such professional development must meet the requirements described in section 648A(a)(5) of the Act.

(2) Training on methods to handle suspected or known child abuse and neglect cases, that comply with applicable federal, state, local, and tribal laws;

(3) Training for child and family services staff on best practices for implementing family engagement strategies in a systemic way, as described throughout this part;

(4) Training for child and family services staff, including staff that work on family services, health, and disabilities, that builds their knowledge, experience, and competencies to improve child and family outcomes; and,

(5) Research-based approaches to professional development for education staff, that are focused on effective curricula implementation, knowledge of the content in Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five, partnering with families, supporting children with disabilities and their families, providing effective and nurturing adult-child interactions, supporting dual language learners as appropriate, addressing challenging behaviors, preparing children and families for transitions (as described in subpart G of this part), and use of data to individualize learning experiences to improve outcomes for all children.

(c) A program must implement a research-based, coordinated coaching strategy for education staff that:

(1) Assesses all education staff to identify strengths, areas of needed support, and which staff would benefit most from intensive coaching;

(2) At a minimum, provides opportunities for intensive coaching to those education staff identified through the process in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, including opportunities to be observed and receive feedback and modeling of effective teacher practices directly related to program performance goals;

(3) At a minimum, provides opportunities for education staff not identified for intensive coaching through the process in paragraph (c)(1) of this section to receive other forms of research-based professional development aligned with program performance goals;

(4) Ensures intensive coaching opportunities for the staff identified through the process in paragraph (c)(1) of this section that:

(i) Align with the program's school readiness goals, curricula, and other approaches to professional development;

(ii) Utilize a coach with adequate training and experience in adult learning and in using assessment data to drive coaching strategies aligned with program performance goals;

(iii) Provide ongoing communication between the coach, program director, education director, and any other relevant staff; and,

(iv) Include clearly articulated goals informed by the program's goals, as described in §1302.102, and a process for achieving those goals; and,

(5) Establishes policies that ensure assessment results are not used to solely determine punitive actions for staff identified as needing support, without providing time and resources for staff to improve.

(d) If a program needs to develop or significantly adapt their approach to research-based professional development to better meet the training needs of education staff, such that it does not include the requirements in paragraph (c) of this section, the program must partner with external early childhood education professional development experts. A program must assess whether the adaptation adequately supports staff professional development, consistent with the process laid out in subpart J of this part.

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§1302.93   Staff health and wellness.

(a) A program must ensure each staff member has an initial health examination and a periodic re-examination as recommended by their health care provider in accordance with state, tribal, or local requirements, that include screeners or tests for communicable diseases, as appropriate. The program must ensure staff do not, because of communicable diseases, pose a significant risk to the health or safety of others in the program that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

(b) A program must make mental health and wellness information available to staff regarding health issues that may affect their job performance, and must provide regularly scheduled opportunities to learn about mental health, wellness, and health education.

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§1302.94   Volunteers.

(a) A program must ensure regular volunteers have been screened for appropriate communicable diseases in accordance with state, tribal or local laws. In the absence of state, tribal or local law, the Health Services Advisory Committee must be consulted regarding the need for such screenings.

(b) A program must ensure children are never left alone with volunteers.

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Subpart J—Program Management and Quality Improvement

§1302.100   Purpose.

A program must provide management and a process of ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement for achieving program goals that ensures child safety and the delivery of effective, high-quality program services.

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§1302.101   Management system.

(a) Implementation. A program must implement a management system that:

(1) Ensures a program, fiscal, and human resource management structure that provides effective management and oversight of all program areas and fiduciary responsibilities to enable delivery of high-quality services in all of the program services described in subparts C, D, E, F, G, and H of this part;

(2) Provides regular and ongoing supervision to support individual staff professional development and continuous program quality improvement;

(3) Ensures budget and staffing patterns that promote continuity of care for all children enrolled, allow sufficient time for staff to participate in appropriate training and professional development, and allow for provision of the full range of services described in subparts C, D, E, F, G, and H of this part; and,

(4) Maintains an automated accounting and record keeping system adequate for effective oversight.

(b) Coordinated approaches. At the beginning of each program year, and on an ongoing basis throughout the year, a program must design and implement program-wide coordinated approaches that ensure:

(1) The training and professional development system, as described in §1302.92, effectively supports the delivery and continuous improvement of high-quality services;

(2) The full and effective participation of children who are dual language learners and their families, by:

(i) Utilizing information from the program's community assessment about the languages spoken throughout the program service area to anticipate child and family needs;

(ii) Identifying community resources and establishing ongoing collaborative relationships and partnerships with community organizations consistent with the requirements in §1302.53(a); and,

(iii) Systematically and comprehensively addressing child and family needs by facilitating meaningful access to program services, including, at a minimum, curriculum, instruction, staffing, supervision, and family partnerships with bilingual staff, oral language assistance and interpretation, or translation of essential program materials, as appropriate.

(3) The full and effective participation of all children with disabilities, including but not limited to children eligible for services under IDEA, by providing services with appropriate facilities, program materials, curriculum, instruction, staffing, supervision, and partnerships, at a minimum, consistent with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act; and,

(4) The management of program data to effectively support the availability, usability, integrity, and security of data. A program must establish procedures on data management, and have them approved by the governing body and policy council, in areas such as quality of data and effective use and sharing of data, while protecting the privacy of child records in accordance with subpart C of part 1303 of this chapter and applicable federal, state, local, and tribal laws.

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§1302.102   Achieving program goals.

(a) Establishing program goals. A program, in collaboration with the governing body and policy council, must establish goals and measurable objectives that include:

(1) Strategic long-term goals for ensuring programs are and remain responsive to community needs as identified in their community assessment as described in subpart A of this part;

(2) Goals for the provision of educational, health, nutritional, and family and community engagement program services as described in the program performance standards to further promote the school readiness of enrolled children;

(3) School readiness goals that are aligned with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five, state and tribal early learning standards, as appropriate, and requirements and expectations of schools Head Start children will attend, per the requirements of subpart B of part 1304 of this part; and,

(4) Effective health and safety practices to ensure children are safe at all times, per the requirements in §§1302.47, 1302.90(b) and (c), 1302.92(c)(1), and 1302.94 and part 1303, subpart F, of this chapter.

(b) Monitoring program performance—(1) Ongoing compliance oversight and correction. In order to ensure effective ongoing oversight and correction, a program must establish and implement a system of ongoing oversight that ensures effective implementation of the program performance standards, including ensuring child safety, and other applicable federal regulations as described in this part, and must:

(i) Collect and use data to inform this process;

(ii) Correct quality and compliance issues immediately, or as quickly as possible;

(iii) Work with the governing body and the policy council to address issues during the ongoing oversight and correction process and during federal oversight; and,

(iv) Implement procedures that prevent recurrence of previous quality and compliance issues, including previously identified deficiencies, safety incidents, and audit findings.

(2) Ongoing assessment of program goals. A program must effectively oversee progress towards program goals on an ongoing basis and annually must:

(i) Conduct a self-assessment that uses program data including aggregated child assessment data, and professional development and parent and family engagement data as appropriate, to evaluate the program's progress towards meeting goals established under paragraph (a) of this section, compliance with program performance standards throughout the program year, and the effectiveness of the professional development and family engagement systems in promoting school readiness;

(ii) Communicate and collaborate with the governing body and policy council, program staff, and parents of enrolled children when conducting the annual self-assessment; and,

(iii) Submit findings of the self-assessment, including information listed in paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section to the responsible HHS official.

(c) Using data for continuous improvement. (1) A program must implement a process for using data to identify program strengths and needs, develop and implement plans that address program needs, and continually evaluate compliance with program performance standards and progress towards achieving program goals described in paragraph (a) of this section.

(2) This process must:

(i) Ensure data is aggregated, analyzed and compared in such a way to assist agencies in identifying risks and informing strategies for continuous improvement in all program service areas;

(ii) Ensure child-level assessment data is aggregated and analyzed at least three times a year, including for sub-groups, such as dual language learners and children with disabilities, as appropriate, except in programs operating fewer than 90 days, and used with other program data described in paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section to direct continuous improvement related to curriculum choice and implementation, teaching practices, professional development, program design and other program decisions, including changing or targeting scope of services; and,

(iii) For programs operating fewer than 90 days, ensures child assessment data is aggregated and analyzed at least twice during the program operating period, including for subgroups, such as dual language learners and children with disabilities, as appropriate, and used with other program data described in paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section to direct continuous improvement related to curriculum choice and implementation, teaching practices, professional development, program design and other program decisions, including changing or targeting scope of services;

(iv) Use information from ongoing monitoring and the annual self-assessment, and program data on teaching practice, staffing and professional development, child-level assessments, family needs assessments, and comprehensive services, to identify program needs, and develop and implement plans for program improvement; and,

(v) Use program improvement plans as needed to either strengthen or adjust content and strategies for professional development, change program scope and services, refine school readiness and other program goals, and adapt strategies to better address the needs of sub-groups.

(d) Reporting. (1) A program must submit:

(i) Status reports, determined by ongoing oversight data, to the governing body and policy council, at least semi-annually;

(ii) Reports, as appropriate, to the responsible HHS official immediately or as soon as practicable, related to any significant incidents affecting the health and safety of program participants, circumstances affecting the financial viability of the program, breaches of personally identifiable information, or program involvement in legal proceedings, any matter for which notification or a report to state, tribal, or local authorities is required by applicable law, including at a minimum:

(A) Any reports regarding agency staff or volunteer compliance with federal, state, tribal, or local laws addressing child abuse and neglect or laws governing sex offenders;

(B) Incidents that require classrooms or centers to be closed for any reason;

(C) Legal proceedings by any party that are directly related to program operations; and,

(D) All conditions required to be reported under §1304.12, including disqualification from the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and license revocation.

(2) Annually, a program must publish and disseminate a report that complies with section 644(a)(2) of the Act and includes a summary of a program's most recent community assessment, as described in §1302.11(b), consistent with privacy protections in subpart C of part 1303 of this chapter.

(3) If a program has had a deficiency identified, it must submit, to the responsible HHS official, a quality improvement plan as required in section 641A(e)(2) of the Act.

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§1302.103   Implementation of program performance standards.

(a) A current program as of November 7, 2016, must implement a program-wide approach for the effective and timely implementation of the changes to the program performance standards, including the purchase of materials and allocation of staff time, as appropriate.

(b) A program's approach to implement the changes included in parts 1301 through 1304 of this chapter must ensure adequate preparation for effective and timely service delivery to children and their families including, at a minimum, review of community assessment data to determine the most appropriate strategy for implementing required program changes, including assessing any changes in the number of children who can be served, as necessary, the purchase of and training on any curriculum, assessment, or other materials, as needed, assessment of program-wide professional development needs, assessment of staffing patterns, the development of coordinated approaches described in §1302.101(b), and the development of appropriate protections for data sharing; and children enrolled in the program on November 7, 2016 are not displaced during a program year and that children leaving Early Head Start or Head Start at the end of the program year following November 7, 2016 as a result of any slot reductions received services described in §§1302.70 and 1302.72 to facilitate successful transitions to other programs.

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