Presentation on theme: "ELIGIBILITY FINAL RULE Office of Head Start Administration for Children and Families U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."— Presentation transcript:
1 ELIGIBILITY FINAL RULE Office of Head Start Administration for Children and Families U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
2 The Head Start Eligibility Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on February 10, 2015.
3 When is the rule effective? March 12, 2015The new provisions will be in FY2016 Monitoring Protocol, which means it will be used starting October 1, 2015.
4 What does the rule do? The final rule: Provides a roadmap for programs on how to determine eligibility;Describes documents program may accept to prove eligibility; and,Requires programs to retain records and to train staff.The rule strengthens internal procedures related to document review and verification to ensure that only eligible children receive Head Start services. It also codifies statutory changes and clarifies what most programs generally do already. Specifically, the rule provides a roadmap for programs on how to determine whether families are either income or categorically eligible for Head Start services based on homelessness, public assistance or involvement in the child welfare system. It describes the types of documents programs may accept from families to prove their eligibility and requires programs to maintain those documents in records for a specific period of time. The rule also requires programs to train staff on these eligibility requirements and on the legal consequences for intentionally enrolling ineligible families.
5 New ProvisionsExcept for the following provisions listed, this rule reiterates current requirements in the HSPPS or in the Head Start Act.New Provisions in the Final Rule on HS Eligibility:Option for telephone interviewEligibility determination recordsAllowance for serving homeless childrenWritten declarations
6 New Provisions (continued) Other new provisions:5) Third party verification6) Program policies and procedures (including actions for violating regulations)7) Training for Staff and Governing Bodies
7 Definitions Added Revised Accepted Enrolled foster care homeless childrenMigrant or Seasonal Head Start ProgramParticipantRelevant time periodVerifyEnrollmentFamilyHead Start eligibleTo make the rule easier to read, we added definitions for accepted, enrolled, foster care, homeless children, Migrant or Seasonal Head Start Program, participant, relevant time period, and verify. We also revised current definitions forenrollment, family, and Head Start eligible.Homeless children means the same as homeless children and youths in section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act at 42 U.S.C a(2).Homeless children lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (within the meaning of section 103(a)(1)) and includes children who share housing with other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement; who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (within the meaning of section 103(a)(2)(C));(iii) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and(iv) migratory children (as such term is defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii). The definition in this regulation also applies to Migrant or Seasonal Head Start programs.
8 Process overviewThe process overview section generally outlines steps staff must take to determine whether a family is eligible for services.
9 INTERVIEW REQUIREMENT Process overviewINTERVIEW REQUIREMENTStaff must conduct an in person interview with each family.
10 Process overview INTERVIEW OPTION If the in-person interview is not possible, staff may interview the family over the telephone.
11 Process overviewVERIFY INFORMATIONStaff must verify information.
12 Process overviewELIGIBILITY DETERMINATION RECORDS Staff must create an eligibility determination record for each participant.Staff must create an eligibility determination record for each participant. The program may keep these records electronically. Regardless of the format, the program must keep these records for all currently enrolled participants for as long as they are enrolled and for 1 year after they have either stopped receiving services or are no longer enrolled.
13 What must an eligibility determination record include?Copies of documents used to verify eligibilityStatement that program staff has made reasonable efforts to verify informationStatement that identifies eligibility determinatione.g. Income or categorical eligibility
14 Eligibility worksheet OMB clearance still good on this form and OHS will not be making any changes.OHS eligibility worksheet has not changed. Continue to use this worksheet to determine and record eligibility.
15 Age eligibility requirements Early Head StartHead StartMigrant and SeasonalA child must be an infant or a toddler younger than 3 years old.A pregnant woman may be any age.A child must:be at least 3 years old; or,turn 3 by the date used to determine eligibility in the public school system; and,not be older than compulsory school age.A child must be younger than compulsory school age by the date used to determine public eligibility.
16 Income eligibility requirements A pregnant woman or child is eligible, IF:The family’s income is equal to or below the poverty line; or,The family is eligible for public assistance.
17 What is public assistance What is public assistance? Consistent with long standing Head Start practice and guidance, public assistance means: TANF or SSIPublic assistance includes TANF and SSI. We believe this is consistent with longstanding Head Start guidance. We appreciate the suggestion that we to extend the public assistance definition to include Medicaid, SNAP, child care and other benefits. However, we have narrowly construed public assistance in the past and believe that our interpretation of public assistance is consistent with the overall thrust of the eligibility requirements, which emphasize serving children from families in the lowest income brackets. Some forms of public assistance such as Medicaid, SNAP and child care have eligibility levels higher than the Head Start eligibility level. For example, SNAP eligibility is 130 percent of the poverty line and child-care eligibility in some states is higher than 150 percent of poverty. Further, when Congress expanded eligibility to include the ability for grantees to serve families with incomes between 100 and 130 percent of the poverty level, they provided very narrow authority to do so. This indicates that Congress’s intent was not to broadly expand eligibility to higher incomes. Therefore, Head Start considering TANF and SSI as public assistance is consistent with the statute and the intent of Congress that Head Start programs should serve families with the lowest income and the greatest need.
18 Programs may enroll up to 10% of their enrollment with over-income families. IF, the family’s income is above the poverty line, a program may enroll up to 10% of their enrollment with pregnant woman or children who would be over-income families
19 Additional allowances for programs A program may enroll an additional 35% , IF the program:Implements outreach and enrollment policies and procedures to ensure its meeting the needs of eligible pregnant women and children; and,Establishes criteria that ensures eligible pregnant women and children are served first.A program may enroll an additional 35% of participants whose families are neither income nor categorically eligible and whose families incomes are below 130 percent of the poverty line, if the program establishes and implements outreach and enrollment policies and procedures to ensure it is meeting the needs of income or categorically eligible pregnant women, children, and children with disabilities, before serving ineligible pregnant women or children AND establishes criteria that ensures eligible pregnant women and children are served first.
20 Additional allowances for programs IF, a program chooses to enroll an additional 35% of participants, it MUST be able to report:How it is meeting the needs of eligible families;Outreach and enrollment policies and procedures;Efforts to be fully enrolled;Policies and procedures and selection criteria;Current and previous enrollment;Number of pregnant women and children served; and,The eligibility criteria category of each child on the waiting list.
21 Additional allowances for tribes A tribe may fill more than 10% of its enrollment with participants whose incomes exceed low-income guidelines or who are not categorically eligible, IF a majority of their enrollment (51%) is income or categorically eligible.
22 Categorical eligibility requirements A family is categorically eligible, IF:The child is homeless; or,The child is in foster care.
23 Migrant or Seasonal eligibility requirements A child is eligible for Migrant or Seasonal Head Start, IF:The family is income eligible; or,The family is categorically eligible; and,The family’s income comes primarily from agricultural work.
24 Verifying income W-2 forms, pay stubs, or pay envelopes No income to reportStaff must:Use all family income for the relevant time period;State the family income for the relevant time period; and,State whether the pregnant woman or child qualifies as low-income.Staff may accept a written declaration to that effect, if staff:Describes efforts made to verify income; and,Explains how the family’s income was calculated; or,Seeks information from third parties, if the family consents.If a family gives consent to contact third parties, program staff must adhere to program safety and privacy policies and procedures and ensureIf a child moves from EHS to HS, staff must verify the family’s income again.
25 Verifying categorical eligibility A family can present one of these to prove eligibility:Court order;Other legal document or government issued document;Written statement from official or homeless provider, school personnel; orAny other document.A family can present a court orderProgram staff must (1) describe efforts made to verify whether the information is accurate and (2) state whether the family is categorically eligible.
26 Verifying categorical eligibility To verify homelessness, a family may declare that it is homeless, if staff, in a written statement :Describes efforts made to verify the child is homeless; and,Describes the child’s living situation and the specific condition under the homeless definition.If the family consents, staff may seek information from third parties who have first hand knowledge about the family’s eligibility. Staff must adhere to program privacy policies and procedures and ensure the eligibility determination record is up to date.
27 Eligibility durationIf a child is eligible and is participating in a program, he or she will remain eligible through the end of the succeeding program year.
28 Training Training modules must: Include methods on how o collect information;Incorporate strategies; and,Explain program policies and procedures.
29 Training (continued) Management and staff Governing body and policy council90 days after the rule becomes effective; and, as soon as possible but,Within 90 days of hiring new staffWithin 180 days after the rule become effective; and,Within 180 days of a new term
30 Policies and procedures A program must establish policies and procedures that include actions taken against staff who intentionally enroll ineligible families.
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