Head Start: Undercover Testing Finds Fraud and Abuse at Selected Head Start Centers Page: 5 of 30
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potentially eligible children were put on wait lists for Head Start services
at other centers.2
To investigate the allegations of fraud and abuse we received through our
FraudNet hotline, we interviewed informants and staff at the two Head
Start grantees in Texas and the Midwest. We reviewed grant
documentation and enrollment information reported to OHS by grantees.
We reviewed attendance records that we obtained from the grantees. To
conduct undercover testing, we created fictitious identities and bogus
documents, including pay stubs and birth certificates, in order to attempt
to register ineligible children at Head Start centers located in California,
Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin and the
Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. We also attempted to register two
eligible families and their children to determine if centers would count
these children toward reported enrollment numbers even if our children
never attended the program. We chose the centers where we attempted to
enroll our fictitious children for two reasons. First, unlike the
approximately 500 centers we contacted that could not verify that they
had any openings, these centers indicated that they had openings for new
enrollees. Second, they were located either in states with a significant
proportion of Head Start funding, in the same geographic area as a GAO
office, or in the same geographic area as the two programs we received
FraudNet allegations on. In situations in which our fictitious parents were
told to bring their fictitious child to class, we monitored centers by making
follow-up phone calls, to determine if centers still had openings in order to
ensure that we were not occupying a space that could be used by an
actual, eligible child. Subsequent to our applications, we requested, as
GAO, that the centers provide us all information regarding the submitted
applications and information as to whether these fictitious children ever
were counted on center attendance records. In order to document
situations of families waiting to enroll in Head Start, we identified centers
with wait lists through calls we made to approximately 550 centers and
contacted families on these wait lists. We asked applicants for information
on the length of time they spent on a wait list, the family's economic
situation, and whether they had been affected by being wait-listed for
Head Start services. We did not attempt to verify the accuracy of the
information that families provided to us. We cannot project the results of
GAO-10-1049 Head Start
2Wait lists were documented because potentially eligible children could have been
displaced by ineligible children who were fraudulently enrolled in the program.
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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/m1/5/: accessed May 27, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.