Head Start: Undercover Testing Finds Fraud and Abuse at Selected Head Start Centers Page: 16 of 30
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challenging, but OHS already offers guidance on calculating average daily
attendance on its Web site. Moreover, in 2008 an advisory committee to
the Secretary of Health and Human Services specifically recommended
that attendance be considered along with other factors in determining
whether OHS should renew an individual grant or make the grant available
for competition among organizations. This recommendation has not been
implemented; HHS officials indicated that regulations governing the
redesignation system are under preparation.' We recently recommended,
with respect to Head Start services being provided under the Recovery
Act, that OHS should collect data on the extent to which children and
pregnant women actually receive services from Head Start and Early Head
Start grantees. In response to this recommendation, OHS expressed
confidence that enrollment is a valid indicator of service delivery.
However, agency officials acknowledge that enrollment figures are only
accurate if programs are monitored closely on how they report these
figures. OHS officials told GAO that in Fiscal Year 2010 they began
monitoring enrollment figures in relation to attendance during on-site
reviews. Given our review of these two grantees' attendance records and
related findings, we remain concerned that enrollment, particularly as
defined for monthly reporting purposes, could overstate actual service
Suggest That the Head
Start Program Is
Vulnerable to Fraud
Our undercover tests determined that some of the types of eligibility and
enrollment fraud schemes allegedly perpetrated by the two grantees are
likely occurring at other Head Start locations around the country. Posing
as fictitious families, we attempted to register children at Head Start
centers in California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas,
Wisconsin, and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Our 15 tests
mainly involved families that were not eligible for Head Start services. For
13 of these tests our fictitious families were over-income or had
disqualifying characteristics. For 2 additional tests, our fictitious families
did not have any disqualifying characteristics and were under-income.
These 2 tests were designed to determine whether a Head Start center
would count our fictitious children toward enrollment numbers even if our
'Department of Health and Human Services, Secretary's Advisory Committee on Re-
designation of Head Start Grantees, A System of Designation Renewal of Head Start
Grantees (Washington, D.C., December 2008). The committee provided the Secretary of
Health and Human Services guidance on developing the system for redesignating grantees,
which is required by the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, Pub. L.
No. 110-134, 7, 121 Stat. 1378 (codified at 42 U.S.C. 9836(c)(2)).
GAO-10-1049 Head Start
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Head Start: Undercover Testing Finds Fraud and Abuse at Selected Head Start Centers, report, September 28, 2010; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc296264/m1/16/: accessed May 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.