CLIENT ALERT: OHS Issues Draft NPRM Recommending Significant Changes to the Head Start Program Performance Standards

By | Published On: November 17, 2023

On November 15, 2023, the Office of Head (OHS) Start issued a draft of the forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) which includes a number of significant changes to the Head Start Program Performance Standards. The formal publication is expected on November 20, 2023. Based on an initial review the following proposed changes caught our attention:

  1. Workforce supports. The proposed changes are great news for Head Start staff, including requirements for pay equity with elementary school teachers and requirements, paid sick leave, behavioral health support and other benefits. However, with looming budget cuts does this mean OHS will support further slot reductions for programs to be able to afford these changes?
  1. Further changes to health and safety reporting requirements. This proposed change decreases the amount of time programs need to report health and safety incidents from seven calendar days to three business days. Additionally, the proposed language provides further guidance on when and how programs report significant incidents.
  1. Increased health and safety obligation to prevent and address lead exposure. This proposed change adds a new provision requiring testing and reporting requirements for potential lead exposure.
  1. Clarification for eligibility for Migrant and Seasonal Head Start. This proposed change addresses a problem facing various migrant and seasonal programs, mainly, the decline of both pay and availability of agricultural work. If adopted, families would be eligible if one family member is primarily engaged in agricultural work rather than requiring more than 50% of the family’s income to be derived from agricultural work.
  1. Clarification for eligibility requirements to consider housing costs. This proposed change is welcome news for both programs and families seeking to enroll in Head Start. Programs would be permitted to deduct certain housing costs from the family’s income to determine whether they are income eligible for Head Start.

OHS is introducing these proposed changes in webinars, one available on-demand and one to take place on November 20, 2023. Stay tuned to learn more about our thoughts on the proposed changes, the potential implications, and how programs should respond.

If you have any questions regarding these proposed changes or your Head Start program, please contact Nicole M. Bacon ( or Ted Waters ( or call 202.466.8960.