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Audit (A-05-10-00022)

Review of ADVOCAP, Inc's Compliance With Health and Safety Regulations for Head Start Programs

Executive Summary

As part of a series of reviews requested by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start, we found that ADVOCAP, Inc. (the Grantee), located in Wisconsin, 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, employee files showed that the Grantee had not obtained a criminal record check on 1 of its 94 employees before employment. In addition, 13 of the Grantee's 15 busdrivers did not meet all Federal busdriver qualification requirements before employment, and the Grantee's files contained no evidence that it had provided classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction to any busdrivers before they transported children. Finally, three of the Grantee's five childcare facilities did not meet all Federal Head Start and State regulations on protecting children from unsafe materials and equipment. The Grantee's failure to comply with these regulations jeopardized the health and safety of children in its care.

We recommended that the Grantee develop and consistently follow procedures to ensure that (1) employees are hired only after passing criminal background checks, (2) all Federal requirements related to busdriver qualifications and training are met and documented, and (3) all unsafe conditions are addressed. The Grantee generally agreed with our findings and described the actions that it had taken or planned to take to address them.

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