Secretarial Determination To Lower Head Start Center-Based Service Duration Requirements, 5332-5334 [2020-00635]

Download as PDF 5332 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 20 / Thursday, January 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations reviewed carefully to eliminate drafting errors and ambiguities. H. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism) The Department has reviewed this rule in accordance with Executive Order 13132 regarding federalism, and has determined that it does not have ‘‘federalism implications.’’ The rule does not ‘‘have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.’’ I. Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks) In accordance with Executive Order 13045, HHS has evaluated the environmental health and safety effects of this rule on children. HHS has determined that the rule would have no effect on children. Under Public Law 111–274 (October 13, 2010), executive Departments and Agencies are required to use plain language in documents that explain to the public how to comply with a requirement the Federal Government administers or enforces. HHS has attempted to use plain language in promulgating the final rule consistent with the Federal Plain Writing Act guidelines. List of Subjects in 42 CFR Part 81 Cancer, Government employees, Nuclear materials, Occupational safety and health, Radiation protection, Radioactive materials, Workers’ compensation. Final Rule khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Appendix A to Part 81—[Removed] 2. Amend part 81 by removing Appendix A. ■ Dated: January 10, 2020. Alex M. Azar II, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services. [FR Doc. 2020–00636 Filed 1–29–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163–18–P DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES RIN 0970–AC63 K. Plain Writing Act of 2010 For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Department of Health and Human Services adopts as final the interim final rule published on August 1, 2019, at 84 FR 37587 and further amends 42 CFR part 81 as follows: Jkt 250001 Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7384n(c); E.O. 13179, 65 FR 77487, 3 CFR, 2000 Comp., p. 321. 45 CFR Part 1302 In accordance with Executive Order 13211, HHS has evaluated the effects of this rule on energy supply, distribution or use, and has determined that the rule will not have a significant adverse effect. 17:08 Jan 29, 2020 1. The authority citation for part 81 continues to read as follows: ■ Administration for Children and Families J. Executive Order 13211 (Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use) VerDate Sep<11>2014 PART 81—GUIDELINES FOR DETERMINING PROBABILITY OF CAUSATION UNDER THE ENERGY EMPLOYEES OCCUPATIONAL ILLNESS COMPENSATION PROGRAM ACT OF 2000 Secretarial Determination To Lower Head Start Center-Based Service Duration Requirements Office of Head Start (OHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). ACTION: Notification; Head Start centerbased service duration requirements. AGENCY: The Secretary of Health and Human Services has the authority, on or before February 1, 2020, to lower the percentage of center-based funded enrollment slots for which Head Start programs must provide 1,020 annual hours of planned class operations, based on an assessment of the availability of sufficient funding to mitigate a substantial reduction in funded enrollment. The Secretary hereby gives notice of his exercise of that authority to reduce the percentage from 100 percent (all) of a Head Start program’s center-based slots, to 45 percent of a Head Start program’s center-based slots. DATES: This action is effective January 30, 2020. ADDRESSES: Office of Head Start, Mary Switzer Bldg., 330 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20201. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colleen Rathgeb, Division Director for Planning, Oversight and Policy, Office of Head Start, OHS_duration@ SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 acf.hhs.gov, (202) 358–3263 (not a tollfree call). Deaf and hearing impaired individuals may call the Federal Dual Party Relay Service at 1–800–877–8339 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background Head Start Duration Requirements The Office of Head Start (OHS) has long established performance requirements for Head Start programs in regulation, including duration requirements. For more than two decades, Head Start programs have been required to meet a minimum service duration of 3.5 hours per day, 4 days per week, for 128 days per year for centerbased funded slots.1 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(2((i). However, in September 2016, OHS revised the regulations governing the Head Start program, known as the Head Start Program Performance Standards. See 81 FR 61293 (Sept. 6, 2016). Those standards required Head Start programs 2 to provide, (1) By August 1, 2019, 1,020 annual hours of planned class operations over the course of at least eight months per year for at least 50 percent of its Head Start center-based funded enrollment; and (2) By August 1, 2021, a program must provide 1,020 annual hours of planned class operations over the course of at least eight months per year for all of its Head Start center-based funded enrollment. See 45CFR 1302.21(c)(2). Under the new regulations, this requirement is a minimum; programs can choose to operate some or all slots at a greater number of annual hours. The 1,020 hours requirement represents an increase from the existing minimum requirement of 3.5 hours per day, 4 days per week, for 128 days per year, which is equivalent to 448 annual hours. The regulation, however, authorized the Secretary to reduce those requirements, by February 1, 2018 and February 1, 2020, respectively, based on an assessment of the availability of sufficient funding to mitigate a substantial reduction in funded enrollment. See 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(3). As noted, the 100 percent service duration standard is one of two requirements OHS included in the performance standards to phase-in full day, full school year services for all 1 ‘‘Center-based slots’’ refers to Head Start-funded slots. 2 In this notice, ‘‘Head Start’’ refers to programing services to preschool-age children, and does not refer to Early Head Start services. E:\FR\FM\30JAR1.SGM 30JAR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 20 / Thursday, January 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Head Start center-based slots over five years. OHS based its decision to require Head Start programs to provide 1,020 annual hours of service to all centerbased slots, by August 1, 2021, on a body of research that suggests children in poverty benefit from longer exposure to high-quality early learning programs than what is provided by part-day and/ or part-year programs. Research on fullday programs, instructional time, summer learning loss, and attendance all indicate longer service duration is linked with improved child outcomes 3 and increased parental workforce participation.4 Moreover, increased service duration allows teachers more time to provide individualized and content-rich learning that is important for positive child outcomes, and also better supports working families who need a safe, nurturing care environment for their children during the day. The January 2018 Notice On January 19, 2018, the Secretary issued a document, under 45 CFR 1302.(c)(3)(i), reducing to zero the percent of Head Start center-based slots required to provide 1,020 annual hours of service by August 1, 2019. See 83 FR 2743 (Jan. 19, 2018). As explained at the time, the decision was made due to insufficient funding to support the implementation of the 50 percent service duration requirement without significant slot loss. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES The March 2019 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking OHS has also revisited the merits of the 100 percent service duration standard and became concerned that 3 Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation: Final Report. (2012). Washington, DC: Office of Head Start, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.; Li, W. (2012). Effects of Head Start hours on children’s cognitive, pre-academic, and behavioral outcomes: An instrumental variable analysis. Presented at Fall 2012 Conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.; Robin, K.B., Frede, E.C., Barnett, W.S. (2006.) NIEER Working Paper—Is More Better? The Effects of Full-Day vs Half-Day Preschool on Early School Achievement. NIEER.; Walston, J.T., and West, J. (2004). Full-day and Half-day Kindergarten in the United States: Findings from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–99 (NCES 2004–078). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.; Wasik, B. & Snell, E. (2015). Synthesis of Preschool Dosage: Unpacking How Quantity, Quality and Content Impacts Child Outcomes. Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. 4 Gibbs, C.R. (2014). A Matter of Time? Impact of Statewide Full-day Kindergarten Expansions on Later Academic Skills and Maternal Employment. The Department of Labor 2013–2014 Scholars Program, 2.; Morrissey, T.W. (2017). Child care and parent labor force participation: A review of the research literature. Review of Economics of the Household, 15(1), 1–24. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:52 Jan 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 this requirement may be too prescriptive to afford programs flexibility to design and operate service models that best meet the needs of the families they serve, especially in light of insufficient federal appropriations for all programs to meet this requirement. Although research points to the benefits of increased service duration for an individual child and family, research cannot answer whether the population as a whole benefits more when fewer children are served for a longer period of time in high-quality early education programs as compared to more children being served for a shorter time in highquality early education programs. Therefore, OHS issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on March 26, 2019, that proposed to remove the 100 percent service duration standard. OHS issued the NPRM with the goals of reducing regulatory burden and restoring flexibility to Head Start grantees to design programs that best meet the needs of their local communities. The public comment period has since ended, and OHS is currently reviewing the comments and considering its next steps. In the meantime, if the 100 percent service duration standard were to go into effect without additional funding from Congress to support it, Head Start programs would be required to decrease, significantly, the number of centerbased slots available in Head Start programs because they would have to extend the number of hours for which they provide classroom services. The performance standards regulation authorizes the Secretary to lower this requirement by February 1, 2020, based on an assessment of available funding, to avoid significant slots loss in Head Start due to this requirement. As OHS considers the next steps for the overall policy direction on service duration, OHS needs to consider the impact that the 100 percent service duration standard would have on the number of children that each Head Start grantee services and address any significant slot loss in those Head Start programs. Authority The requirements under 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(3)(ii) of the Head Start Program Performance Standards allows the Secretary to lower the 100 percent service duration requirement described in 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(2)(iv), on or before February 1, 2020, based on an assessment of the availability of sufficient funding to mitigate a substantial reduction in funded enrollment in Head Start. That section provides, On or before February 1, 2020, the Secretary may lower the required PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 5333 percentage described in paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section [establishing the 100 percent service duration requirement], based on an assessment of the availability of sufficient funding to mitigate a substantial reduction in funded enrollment. 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(3)(ii). In the January 2018 Federal Register document, HHS and OHS removed the parallel provision that required at least 50 percent of a Head Start program’s center-based slots provide 1,020 hours of classroom operations per year— meaning that Head Start grantees did not have to significantly reduce slots in order to meet this requirement. Funding Assessment Based on the information and the Head Start program assessment provided to him, the Secretary concludes that Head Start appropriations are not sufficient to allow the requirement at 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(2)(iv), for 100 percent of each Head Start program’s center-based slots to operate for 1,020 annual hours, to go into effect without resulting in a substantial reduction in Head Start center-based slots. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, Congress appropriated $294 million to support an increase in hours of program operations across Head Start and Early Head Start. At that time, the 100 percent service duration standard was not in effect. However, eligible programs that wished to voluntarily increase hours of program operations for their Head Start or Early Head Start center-based slots could submit an application to receive supplemental funds. Head Start programs operating less than 40 percent of their center-based slots for 1,020 hours were eligible to apply for funding. Due to the limited availability of funding, OHS used the 40 percent threshold to prioritize those Head Start programs operating the fewest full day, full school year slots and to help ensure all Head Start programs had at least 40 percent of their slots operating at 1,020 annual hours. Over 600 Head Start programs were able to increase service duration for their center-based slots through this funding opportunity. Subsequently, in FY 2018, Congress appropriated an additional $260 million to further support an increase in hours of operation for Head Start programs. Head Start programs that operated less than 45 percent of their center-based slots at 1,020 hours, and wished to increase hours of program operation, were eligible to submit an application to receive funds. Over 500 programs were able to increase service duration for 45 percent of their Head Start center-based E:\FR\FM\30JAR1.SGM 30JAR1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 5334 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 20 / Thursday, January 30, 2020 / Rules and Regulations slots to 1,020 hours per year. Some eligible programs chose not to apply for one or both rounds of additional funding to support longer service duration. OHS has conducted an assessment of available funding and the percentages of slots individual programs currently operate at 1,020 annual hours. Approximately 30 percent of Head Start center-based programs currently operate all of their slots for 1,020 hours or longer per year. Conversely, approximately 10 percent of Head Start center-based programs do not operate any of their slots for 1,020 hours per year. Approximately 78 percent of Head Start center-based programs operate at least 45 percent of their slots at 1,020 hours per year. Approximately 59 percent of Head Start center-based programs operate at least 50 percent of their slots at 1,020 hours per year. Based on this assessment, ACF/OHS estimates that full implementation of the requirement at 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(2)(iv) for the remaining programs to operate 100 percent of their Head Start center-based slots for 1,020 annual hours would cost approximately $730 million in additional funding. In the absence of additional appropriations to support longer duration, Head Start programs would have to adjust (reduce) the number of slots available, in order to be able to operate the remaining slots at 1,020 hours per year. The requirement would result in a loss of approximately 73,800 Head Start slots, which represents roughly 11 percent of existing Head Start slots. This loss would constitute a substantial reduction in Head Start funded enrollment, and therefore makes lowering the 100 percent requirement necessary. The FY 2020 President’s Budget did not request an increase in appropriations to support longer service duration in Head Start. OHS does not expect sufficient funding to become available for Head Start programs to meet the Head Start Program Performance Standards 100 percent duration standard by August 2021. However, currently 78 percent of Head Start programs (1,050 programs) operate at least 45 percent of their center-based slots at 1,020 hours. In contrast, 410 Head Start programs operate less than 45 percent of their center-based slots at 1,020 hours. If OHS were to require all Head Start programs to operate at least 45 percent of their center-based slots at 1,020, OHS assumes that approximately 20 percent of all Head Start center-based programs (290 programs, or approximately 70 percent of Head Start programs that operate less than 45 percent of their center-based slots at VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:52 Jan 29, 2020 Jkt 250001 1,020 hours on an annual basis) would apply for and receive a waiver of this requirement.5 This would leave 120 programs (representing 6,600 centerbased slots) that would likely need to increase duration for some of their slots in order to meet a requirement to operation 45 percent of their centerbased slots at 1,020 hours per year. OHS estimates that it would cost $25.5 million for these programs to meet such a requirement; to meet the requirement, without an increase in funding, would require such programs to decrease the number of center-based Head Start slots by less than 1 percent or approximately 2,600 Head Start slots. OHS believes lowering the 1,020 annual hour requirement from 100 percent to 45 percent reflects prior Congressional appropriations because the most recent appropriations allowed programs to increase the percentage of slots that operate for 1,020 hours up to 45 percent. This will mitigate the chance of substantial slot loss that would likely occur under a 100 percent requirement. Based on this assessment presented by OHS, the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines that there is insufficient funding for Head Start programs to implement a 100 percent service duration requirement of 1,020 hours per year, without a substantial reduction in funded enrollment. Accordingly, the Secretary exercises his authority to lower the required percentage from 100 percent to 45 percent, based on the assessment that there is sufficient Head Start funding available such that a requirement that 45% of center-funded slots operate at 1,020 hours per year would not result in a substantial reduction in funded enrollment. Accordingly, by this notice, HHS lowers the 100 percent duration requirement to 45 percent. Conclusion In accordance with 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(3)(ii), the Secretary determines that there is not sufficient funding available to mitigate a substantial reduction in funded enrollment resulting from the requirement described in 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(2)(iv), that 100 percent of a Head Start program’s center-based funded enrollment operate for 1,020 annual hours of planned classroom operations by August 1, 2021, and hereby lowers that percentage from 100 5 In order to receive a waiver of the 100 percent duration requirement, a program would have to demonstrate the their proposed program design effectively supports children’s development and progress in early learning outcomes and better meets the needs of parents. PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 percent to 45 percent. This determination is effective immediately. Because the performance standards govern the Secretary’s discretion in this matter, and authorize the Secretary to take this action, no public comment process is required. The service duration requirements for Head Start center-based programs described in 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(2)(i) and (ii) also remain in effect for those slots not operating at 1,020 annual hours. Under these requirements, a Head Start center-based program must provide, at a minimum, at least 160 days per year of planned class operations if it operates for five days per week, or at least 128 days per year if it operates four days per week. Classes must operate for a minimum of 3.5 hours per day. These requirements are minimums, and programs can choose to operate some slots longer each day and/or for more days per year. Additionally, the requirement that Early Head Start programs provide 1,380 annual hours of planned class operations for all centerbased enrollment remains in effect. Dated: December 19, 2019. Alex M. Azar II, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services. [FR Doc. 2020–00635 Filed 1–29–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4181–01–P GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION 48 CFR Parts 6101, 6103, 6104, and 6105 [CBCA–TA–2020–01; Docket No. 2020–0007; Sequence No. 1] Rules of Procedure of the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals; Technical Amendment Civilian Board of Contract Appeals; General Services Administration (GSA). ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This document makes amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals. DATES: Effective: January 30, 2020. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. James Johnson, Chief Counsel, Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, 1800 M Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036; at 202–606–8788; or email at jamesa.johnson@cbca.gov, for clarification of content. For information on status or publication schedules, contact the Regulatory Secretariat Division at 202–501–4755. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\30JAR1.SGM 30JAR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 20 (Thursday, January 30, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 5332-5334]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-00635]


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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Administration for Children and Families

45 CFR Part 1302

RIN 0970-AC63


Secretarial Determination To Lower Head Start Center-Based 
Service Duration Requirements

AGENCY: Office of Head Start (OHS), Administration for Children and 
Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

ACTION: Notification; Head Start center-based service duration 
requirements.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Secretary of Health and Human Services has the authority, 
on or before February 1, 2020, to lower the percentage of center-based 
funded enrollment slots for which Head Start programs must provide 
1,020 annual hours of planned class operations, based on an assessment 
of the availability of sufficient funding to mitigate a substantial 
reduction in funded enrollment. The Secretary hereby gives notice of 
his exercise of that authority to reduce the percentage from 100 
percent (all) of a Head Start program's center-based slots, to 45 
percent of a Head Start program's center-based slots.

DATES: This action is effective January 30, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Office of Head Start, Mary Switzer Bldg., 330 C Street SW, 
Washington, DC 20201.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Colleen Rathgeb, Division Director for 
Planning, Oversight and Policy, Office of Head Start, 
[email protected], (202) 358-3263 (not a toll-free call). Deaf 
and hearing impaired individuals may call the Federal Dual Party Relay 
Service at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Standard 
Time.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

Head Start Duration Requirements

    The Office of Head Start (OHS) has long established performance 
requirements for Head Start programs in regulation, including duration 
requirements. For more than two decades, Head Start programs have been 
required to meet a minimum service duration of 3.5 hours per day, 4 
days per week, for 128 days per year for center-based funded slots.\1\ 
45 CFR 1302.21(c)(2((i). However, in September 2016, OHS revised the 
regulations governing the Head Start program, known as the Head Start 
Program Performance Standards. See 81 FR 61293 (Sept. 6, 2016). Those 
standards required Head Start programs \2\ to provide,
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ ``Center-based slots'' refers to Head Start-funded slots.
    \2\ In this notice, ``Head Start'' refers to programing services 
to preschool-age children, and does not refer to Early Head Start 
services.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (1) By August 1, 2019, 1,020 annual hours of planned class 
operations over the course of at least eight months per year for at 
least 50 percent of its Head Start center-based funded enrollment; and
    (2) By August 1, 2021, a program must provide 1,020 annual hours of 
planned class operations over the course of at least eight months per 
year for all of its Head Start center-based funded enrollment. See 
45CFR 1302.21(c)(2).
    Under the new regulations, this requirement is a minimum; programs 
can choose to operate some or all slots at a greater number of annual 
hours. The 1,020 hours requirement represents an increase from the 
existing minimum requirement of 3.5 hours per day, 4 days per week, for 
128 days per year, which is equivalent to 448 annual hours. The 
regulation, however, authorized the Secretary to reduce those 
requirements, by February 1, 2018 and February 1, 2020, respectively, 
based on an assessment of the availability of sufficient funding to 
mitigate a substantial reduction in funded enrollment. See 45 CFR 
1302.21(c)(3).
    As noted, the 100 percent service duration standard is one of two 
requirements OHS included in the performance standards to phase-in full 
day, full school year services for all

[[Page 5333]]

Head Start center-based slots over five years. OHS based its decision 
to require Head Start programs to provide 1,020 annual hours of service 
to all center-based slots, by August 1, 2021, on a body of research 
that suggests children in poverty benefit from longer exposure to high-
quality early learning programs than what is provided by part-day and/
or part-year programs. Research on full-day programs, instructional 
time, summer learning loss, and attendance all indicate longer service 
duration is linked with improved child outcomes \3\ and increased 
parental workforce participation.\4\ Moreover, increased service 
duration allows teachers more time to provide individualized and 
content-rich learning that is important for positive child outcomes, 
and also better supports working families who need a safe, nurturing 
care environment for their children during the day.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation: 
Final Report. (2012). Washington, DC: Office of Head Start, 
Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health 
and Human Services.; Li, W. (2012). Effects of Head Start hours on 
children's cognitive, pre-academic, and behavioral outcomes: An 
instrumental variable analysis. Presented at Fall 2012 Conference of 
the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.; Robin, 
K.B., Frede, E.C., Barnett, W.S. (2006.) NIEER Working Paper--Is 
More Better? The Effects of Full-Day vs Half-Day Preschool on Early 
School Achievement. NIEER.; Walston, J.T., and West, J. (2004). 
Full-day and Half-day Kindergarten in the United States: Findings 
from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 
1998-99 (NCES 2004-078). U.S. Department of Education, National 
Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government 
Printing Office.; Wasik, B. & Snell, E. (2015). Synthesis of 
Preschool Dosage: Unpacking How Quantity, Quality and Content 
Impacts Child Outcomes. Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.
    \4\ Gibbs, C.R. (2014). A Matter of Time? Impact of Statewide 
Full-day Kindergarten Expansions on Later Academic Skills and 
Maternal Employment. The Department of Labor 2013-2014 Scholars 
Program, 2.; Morrissey, T.W. (2017). Child care and parent labor 
force participation: A review of the research literature. Review of 
Economics of the Household, 15(1), 1-24.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

The January 2018 Notice

    On January 19, 2018, the Secretary issued a document, under 45 CFR 
1302.(c)(3)(i), reducing to zero the percent of Head Start center-based 
slots required to provide 1,020 annual hours of service by August 1, 
2019. See 83 FR 2743 (Jan. 19, 2018). As explained at the time, the 
decision was made due to insufficient funding to support the 
implementation of the 50 percent service duration requirement without 
significant slot loss.

The March 2019 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    OHS has also revisited the merits of the 100 percent service 
duration standard and became concerned that this requirement may be too 
prescriptive to afford programs flexibility to design and operate 
service models that best meet the needs of the families they serve, 
especially in light of insufficient federal appropriations for all 
programs to meet this requirement. Although research points to the 
benefits of increased service duration for an individual child and 
family, research cannot answer whether the population as a whole 
benefits more when fewer children are served for a longer period of 
time in high-quality early education programs as compared to more 
children being served for a shorter time in high-quality early 
education programs. Therefore, OHS issued a Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking (NPRM) on March 26, 2019, that proposed to remove the 100 
percent service duration standard. OHS issued the NPRM with the goals 
of reducing regulatory burden and restoring flexibility to Head Start 
grantees to design programs that best meet the needs of their local 
communities. The public comment period has since ended, and OHS is 
currently reviewing the comments and considering its next steps.
    In the meantime, if the 100 percent service duration standard were 
to go into effect without additional funding from Congress to support 
it, Head Start programs would be required to decrease, significantly, 
the number of center-based slots available in Head Start programs 
because they would have to extend the number of hours for which they 
provide classroom services. The performance standards regulation 
authorizes the Secretary to lower this requirement by February 1, 2020, 
based on an assessment of available funding, to avoid significant slots 
loss in Head Start due to this requirement. As OHS considers the next 
steps for the overall policy direction on service duration, OHS needs 
to consider the impact that the 100 percent service duration standard 
would have on the number of children that each Head Start grantee 
services and address any significant slot loss in those Head Start 
programs.
Authority
    The requirements under 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(3)(ii) of the Head Start 
Program Performance Standards allows the Secretary to lower the 100 
percent service duration requirement described in 45 CFR 
1302.21(c)(2)(iv), on or before February 1, 2020, based on an 
assessment of the availability of sufficient funding to mitigate a 
substantial reduction in funded enrollment in Head Start. That section 
provides, On or before February 1, 2020, the Secretary may lower the 
required percentage described in paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section 
[establishing the 100 percent service duration requirement], based on 
an assessment of the availability of sufficient funding to mitigate a 
substantial reduction in funded enrollment. 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(3)(ii).
    In the January 2018 Federal Register document, HHS and OHS removed 
the parallel provision that required at least 50 percent of a Head 
Start program's center-based slots provide 1,020 hours of classroom 
operations per year--meaning that Head Start grantees did not have to 
significantly reduce slots in order to meet this requirement.
Funding Assessment
    Based on the information and the Head Start program assessment 
provided to him, the Secretary concludes that Head Start appropriations 
are not sufficient to allow the requirement at 45 CFR 
1302.21(c)(2)(iv), for 100 percent of each Head Start program's center-
based slots to operate for 1,020 annual hours, to go into effect 
without resulting in a substantial reduction in Head Start center-based 
slots.
    In fiscal year (FY) 2016, Congress appropriated $294 million to 
support an increase in hours of program operations across Head Start 
and Early Head Start. At that time, the 100 percent service duration 
standard was not in effect. However, eligible programs that wished to 
voluntarily increase hours of program operations for their Head Start 
or Early Head Start center-based slots could submit an application to 
receive supplemental funds. Head Start programs operating less than 40 
percent of their center-based slots for 1,020 hours were eligible to 
apply for funding. Due to the limited availability of funding, OHS used 
the 40 percent threshold to prioritize those Head Start programs 
operating the fewest full day, full school year slots and to help 
ensure all Head Start programs had at least 40 percent of their slots 
operating at 1,020 annual hours. Over 600 Head Start programs were able 
to increase service duration for their center-based slots through this 
funding opportunity.
    Subsequently, in FY 2018, Congress appropriated an additional $260 
million to further support an increase in hours of operation for Head 
Start programs. Head Start programs that operated less than 45 percent 
of their center-based slots at 1,020 hours, and wished to increase 
hours of program operation, were eligible to submit an application to 
receive funds. Over 500 programs were able to increase service duration 
for 45 percent of their Head Start center-based

[[Page 5334]]

slots to 1,020 hours per year. Some eligible programs chose not to 
apply for one or both rounds of additional funding to support longer 
service duration.
    OHS has conducted an assessment of available funding and the 
percentages of slots individual programs currently operate at 1,020 
annual hours. Approximately 30 percent of Head Start center-based 
programs currently operate all of their slots for 1,020 hours or longer 
per year. Conversely, approximately 10 percent of Head Start center-
based programs do not operate any of their slots for 1,020 hours per 
year. Approximately 78 percent of Head Start center-based programs 
operate at least 45 percent of their slots at 1,020 hours per year. 
Approximately 59 percent of Head Start center-based programs operate at 
least 50 percent of their slots at 1,020 hours per year.
    Based on this assessment, ACF/OHS estimates that full 
implementation of the requirement at 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(2)(iv) for the 
remaining programs to operate 100 percent of their Head Start center-
based slots for 1,020 annual hours would cost approximately $730 
million in additional funding. In the absence of additional 
appropriations to support longer duration, Head Start programs would 
have to adjust (reduce) the number of slots available, in order to be 
able to operate the remaining slots at 1,020 hours per year. The 
requirement would result in a loss of approximately 73,800 Head Start 
slots, which represents roughly 11 percent of existing Head Start 
slots. This loss would constitute a substantial reduction in Head Start 
funded enrollment, and therefore makes lowering the 100 percent 
requirement necessary.
    The FY 2020 President's Budget did not request an increase in 
appropriations to support longer service duration in Head Start. OHS 
does not expect sufficient funding to become available for Head Start 
programs to meet the Head Start Program Performance Standards 100 
percent duration standard by August 2021. However, currently 78 percent 
of Head Start programs (1,050 programs) operate at least 45 percent of 
their center-based slots at 1,020 hours. In contrast, 410 Head Start 
programs operate less than 45 percent of their center-based slots at 
1,020 hours. If OHS were to require all Head Start programs to operate 
at least 45 percent of their center-based slots at 1,020, OHS assumes 
that approximately 20 percent of all Head Start center-based programs 
(290 programs, or approximately 70 percent of Head Start programs that 
operate less than 45 percent of their center-based slots at 1,020 hours 
on an annual basis) would apply for and receive a waiver of this 
requirement.\5\ This would leave 120 programs (representing 6,600 
center-based slots) that would likely need to increase duration for 
some of their slots in order to meet a requirement to operation 45 
percent of their center-based slots at 1,020 hours per year. OHS 
estimates that it would cost $25.5 million for these programs to meet 
such a requirement; to meet the requirement, without an increase in 
funding, would require such programs to decrease the number of center-
based Head Start slots by less than 1 percent or approximately 2,600 
Head Start slots.
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    \5\ In order to receive a waiver of the 100 percent duration 
requirement, a program would have to demonstrate the their proposed 
program design effectively supports children's development and 
progress in early learning outcomes and better meets the needs of 
parents.
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    OHS believes lowering the 1,020 annual hour requirement from 100 
percent to 45 percent reflects prior Congressional appropriations 
because the most recent appropriations allowed programs to increase the 
percentage of slots that operate for 1,020 hours up to 45 percent. This 
will mitigate the chance of substantial slot loss that would likely 
occur under a 100 percent requirement.
    Based on this assessment presented by OHS, the Secretary of Health 
and Human Services determines that there is insufficient funding for 
Head Start programs to implement a 100 percent service duration 
requirement of 1,020 hours per year, without a substantial reduction in 
funded enrollment. Accordingly, the Secretary exercises his authority 
to lower the required percentage from 100 percent to 45 percent, based 
on the assessment that there is sufficient Head Start funding available 
such that a requirement that 45% of center-funded slots operate at 
1,020 hours per year would not result in a substantial reduction in 
funded enrollment. Accordingly, by this notice, HHS lowers the 100 
percent duration requirement to 45 percent.
Conclusion
    In accordance with 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(3)(ii), the Secretary 
determines that there is not sufficient funding available to mitigate a 
substantial reduction in funded enrollment resulting from the 
requirement described in 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(2)(iv), that 100 percent of 
a Head Start program's center-based funded enrollment operate for 1,020 
annual hours of planned classroom operations by August 1, 2021, and 
hereby lowers that percentage from 100 percent to 45 percent. This 
determination is effective immediately. Because the performance 
standards govern the Secretary's discretion in this matter, and 
authorize the Secretary to take this action, no public comment process 
is required.
    The service duration requirements for Head Start center-based 
programs described in 45 CFR 1302.21(c)(2)(i) and (ii) also remain in 
effect for those slots not operating at 1,020 annual hours. Under these 
requirements, a Head Start center-based program must provide, at a 
minimum, at least 160 days per year of planned class operations if it 
operates for five days per week, or at least 128 days per year if it 
operates four days per week. Classes must operate for a minimum of 3.5 
hours per day. These requirements are minimums, and programs can choose 
to operate some slots longer each day and/or for more days per year. 
Additionally, the requirement that Early Head Start programs provide 
1,380 annual hours of planned class operations for all center-based 
enrollment remains in effect.

    Dated: December 19, 2019.
Alex M. Azar II,
Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services.
[FR Doc. 2020-00635 Filed 1-29-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4181-01-P