New GAO Report Finds Potential Fraud in Head Start Programs

By , Published On: October 11, 2019

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released the results of a study to identify problems with Head Start program eligibility screening.

What did they find? Out of 15 programs, seven correctly determined ineligibility, three encouraged enrollment despite ineligibility, and five altered the forms to make the child appear eligible. These findings will be referred to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for consideration of a criminal inquiry.

Déjà Vu? It’s not just you, we’ve seen this before. Nine years ago, the GAO went undercover to test Head Start eligibility and enrollment procedures. This resulted in Congressional hearings, two sets of revisions to ERSEA regulations, and considerably more required documentation.

What does this mean for Head Start programs? In all likelihood, this means heightened attention to program compliance with eligibility requirements, documentation related to ERSEA, and more frequent and detailed monitoring reviews.

What should you do? It is more important than ever to make sure your staff understands the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) applicable to their jobs and daily responsibilities. In light of this report, now is the time to confirm that your program is following the rules and review your existing policies and procedures to see if you need to make any adjustments. Join us on our upcoming Industry Update webinar to learn more about the key risk areas for your program.


Questions? If you have questions about this Report or other Head Start issues, please join the webinar on October 24 at I PM ET or contact our experienced Head Start team, Ted Waters and Nicole Bacon or call the firm at (202) 466-8960.


We can help! FTLF offers a variety of training programs to help you brush up on all the rules or train new staff in key areas. The following FTLF programs cover topics most applicable to the findings in the GAO Report: