The Department of Health and Human Services is under fire for not doing enough to ferret out financial mismanagement, fraud, and abuse in Head Start programs. A GAO report found that three-quarters of the Head Start programs the agency reviewed in 2000 showed financial and administrative irregularities, many with multiple infractions, and about half of the programs had irregularities for three or more years - even after being notified that they needed to get their act in order. Republicans have seized upon the report to revive the effort to restructure Head Start into a state-run block grant program; Head Start supporters say most of the violations are minor, "parking ticket" offenses and the whole thing is a precursor to a campaign to close the program. Lost in the debate is serious consideration of precisely what kind of pre-schooling at-risk kids most need. We know for a fact that Head Start isn't providing it. (See here for more.) As Congress considers overhauling Head Start's administrative and financial management protocols, we hope that someone will spare a thought to overhauling the curriculum.
"Government is criticized on oversight of Head Start," by Greg Winter, New York Times, March 18, 2005 (subscription required)
"Report finds weak federal oversight of Head Start program," by Ben Feller, Associated Press, March 18, 2005 (subscription required)