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Review of Head Start Health and Safety Standards at Rolling Plains Management Corporation

As part of a series of reviews requested by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start, we found that Rolling Plains Management Corporation (the Grantee), located in Texas, 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 January 2010, the files on 6 of the Grantee's 75 employees and contractors did not contain evidence of all required background checks. The files on the 69 remaining employees and contractors contained evidence of the required background checks, but the checks were not always requested when they were due. In addition, the Grantee's 11 childcare facilities did not meet all Federal Head Start and State requirements on protecting children from unsafe materials and equipment. Finally, three of the Grantee's childcare facilities did not provide a fully secure environment for the children in their care. The Grantee's failure to consistently comply with 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) required background checks are completed when due, (2) all unsafe conditions are corrected and all necessary repairs are addressed in a timely manner, and (3) all facilities are secure. In comments on our draft report, the Grantee agreed with most of our findings and described actions that it had taken or planned to take to address most of the deficiencies that we identified.

Filed under: Administration for Children and Families