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Review of West Haven Community House Association, Inc.�s, Compliance With Health and Safety Regulations for Head Start Programs

As part of a series of reviews requested by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start, we found that West Haven Community House Association, Inc. (the Grantee), located in Connecticut, did not fully comply with Federal and State requirements on ensuring the health and safety of children in its care. The major objectives of the Head Start program include promoting school readiness and enhancing the social and cognitive development of low-income children by providing health, educational, nutritional, and social services. In fiscal year (FY) 2009, Congress appropriated $7.1 billion to fund the Head Start program�s regular operations. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provides an additional $2.1 billion for the program during FYs 2009 and 2010.

As of December 2009, the files on 58 of the Grantee�s 59 Head Start employees lacked required documentation on fingerprint cards, child abuse and neglect registry checks, criminal record checks, and/or signed employee declarations. Further, the Grantee did not meet all Federal Head Start and State requirements on protecting children from unsafe materials and equipment, and the Grantee did not always provide a secure environment for the children in its care. The Grantee�s failure to comply with these requirements jeopardized the health and safety of children in its care.

We recommended that the Grantee develop and consistently follow procedures to ensure that (1) all employee files contain evidence of completed fingerprint cards (for employees hired after September 1, 2000), evidence of a check of the State child abuse and neglect registry, documentation of a criminal background check, and an employee-signed declaration; (2) unsafe materials are stored in locked areas out of the reach of children and other unsafe conditions are addressed; and (3) all buildings are secure. The Grantee generally agreed with our findings and described the actions it was taking.