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Review of Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action'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 Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (the Grantee), located in California, 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 June 2009, the Grantee had not obtained criminal record checks for 4 of its 35 employees. The Grantee also did not obtain criminal record checks on six employees until after they were hired, and the files on four other employees did not contain the required documentation of criminal record clearances or a signed statement regarding criminal history. In addition, the Grantee's four childcare facilities that we reviewed did not meet all Federal Head Start and State requirements for protecting children from unsafe materials and equipment. Furthermore, one of these facilities did not provide a fully secure environment for the children in its 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 strengthen and consistently follow its existing procedures to ensure that (1) criminal record checks are obtained before hiring employees and all employee files contain documentation of criminal record clearances or exemptions and employee signed statements regarding criminal history and (2) all unsafe materials and equipment are stored in locked areas out of the reach of children, other unsafe conditions are addressed, and all facilities are secure. The Grantee generally agreed with our findings and described actions taken to address the deficiencies.

Filed under: Administration for Children and Families