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HHS/ACF RIN: 0970-AC73 Publication ID: Fall 2019 
Title: Head Start Service Duration Requirements 

This rule would address the requirement in the Head Start Program Performance Standards that increases service duration for all Head Start center-based programs to a minimum of 1,020 hours by February 1, 2020.

Agency: Department of Health and Human Services(HHS)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: Yes  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: Deregulatory 
CFR Citation: 45 CFR 1302   
Legal Authority: sec. 641A of the Head Start Act   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

The Head Start Program Performance Standards (performance standards) require Head Start programs to provide at least 1,020 annual hours of service for 100 percent of their center-based slots by August 1, 2021. The Office of Head Start issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that proposed to remove the 100-percent standard to restore greater flexibility to local Head Start programs and mitigate the chance of significant slot loss in Head Start. More specifically, we estimate that under the current regulation, and without additional funding, implementation of this standard by the start of program year 2021-2022 would result in a loss of approximately 77,500 Head Start slots. Based on comments we received on the NPRM, we are considering a policy approach in the final rule that balances local program flexibility and parental choice with the recognition that full-day, full-school-year services better support working families and the overall positive development of children in Head Start. 

Summary of the Legal Basis:

The Office of Head Start will issue a final rule under the authority granted to the Secretary of Health and Human Services by section 644(c) of the Head Start Act, as amended by the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, which authorizes the Secretary to prescribe rules or regulations that are binding on all agencies carrying on Head Start program activities.


Alternative 1:  One alternative is to maintain the status quo and allow the 100-percent service duration standard to take effect starting in program year 2021-2022.

Alternative 2: Another alternative is to entirely remove the 100-percent service duration standard from the performance standards, as we proposed in the NPRM. Under this alternative, requirements for service duration would revert to prior minimums of 3.5 hours per day and 160 days a year for programs operating 5 days per week or 128 days per year for programs operating 4 days per week.

Alternative 3: A final alternative is to replace the 100-percent service duration standard with a standard that lowers the required percentage of a program’s center-based slots that must operate for at least 1,020 annual hours (e.g., 50 percent or 80 percent) and extend the timeline for implementation.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

To date, Congress has appropriated $554 million to support longer service duration in Head Start programs. Full implementation of this standard would require approximately $700 million in additional resources. Alternatively, if the 100-percent service duration standard goes into effect in the absence of additional funding, we estimate a loss of approximately 77,500 Head Start slots in order for programs to fully implement the requirement. In other words, full implementation of this requirement, absent additional funding, would result in approximately $700 million in transfers from those children who will lose services under the 100-percent service duration requirement to those children who will receive longer services under this requirement.



Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  03/26/2019  84 FR 11269   
NPRM Comment Period End  05/28/2019 
Final Action  12/00/2019 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Colleen Rathgeb
Director, Division of Planning, Oversight and Policy, Office of Head Start
Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
330 C Street SW,
Washington, DC 20201
Phone:202 205-7378