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Audit (A-07-09-02764)

Review of Head Start Health and Safety Standards at Cerebral Palsy of Colorado, Inc.

Executive Summary

As part of a series of reviews requested by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start, we found that Cerebral Palsy of Colorado, Inc. (CPCO), 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 September 2009, CPCO had not obtained criminal background checks on 5 employees or child abuse and neglect checks on 15 employees. Additionally, child abuse and neglect checks on 20 employees likely were not requested within the required timeframe. Furthermore, CPCO's five facilities did not meet all Federal Head Start and State health and safety regulations on protecting children from unsafe conditions. CPCO's failure to comply with these regulations potentially jeopardized the health and safety of children in its care.

We recommended that CPCO develop and consistently implement procedures to ensure that

(1) employees are hired only after passing criminal background checks, all child abuse and neglect checks are requested within 10 days of employment, and all employee files contain documentation of criminal background and child abuse and neglect checks and (2) all unsafe conditions identified in this report are addressed in a timely manner. CPCO concurred with our findings and described its completed and ongoing actions to address the deficiencies that we identified.

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