45 CFR 1305.4 - Age of children and family income eligibility.
(a) Process overview.
(1) Program staff must:
(ii) Verify information as required in paragraphs (h) through (j) of this section; and,
(2) Program staff may interview the family over the telephone if an in-person interview is not possible. In addition to meeting the criteria provided in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, program staff must note in the eligibility determination record reasons why the in-person interview was not possible.
(b) Age eligibility requirements.
(1) For Early Head Start, except when the child is transitioning to Head Start, a child must be an infant or a toddler younger than three years old. A pregnant woman may be any age.
(2) For Head Start, a child must:
(i) Be at least three years old; or,
(ii) Turn three years old by the date used to determine eligibility for public school in the community in which the Head Start program is located; and,
(iii) Not be older than compulsory school age.
(3) For Migrant or Seasonal Head Start, a child must be younger than compulsory school age by the date used to determine public school eligibility for the community in which the program is located.
(c) Income eligibility requirements.
(1) A pregnant woman or a child is eligible, if:
(ii) The family is eligible or, in the absence of child care, would be potentially eligible for public assistance.
(2) If the family's income is above the poverty line, a program may enroll a pregnant woman or a child who would benefit from services. These participants can only make up to 10 percent of a program's enrollment in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section.
(d) Additional allowances for programs.
(1) A program may enroll an additional 35 percent of participants whose families are neither income nor categorically eligible and whose family incomes are below 130 percent of the poverty line, if the program:
(i) Establishes and implements outreach, and enrollment policies and procedures to ensure it is meeting the needs of income or categorically eligible pregnant women, children, and children with disabilities, before serving ineligible pregnant women or children; and
(ii) Establishes criteria that ensures eligible pregnant women and children are served first.
(2) If a program chooses to enroll participants, who are neither income nor categorically eligible, and whose family incomes are between 100 and 130 percent of the poverty line, it must be able to report to the Head Start Regional Program Office:
(i) How it is meeting the needs of low-income families or families potentially eligible for public assistance, homeless children, and children in foster care, and include local demographic data on these populations;
(ii) Outreach and enrollment policies and procedures that ensure it is meeting the needs of income eligible or categorically eligible children or pregnant women, before serving over-income children or pregnant women;
(iv) Policies, procedures, and selection criteria it uses to serve eligible children;
(vi) The number of pregnant women and children served, disaggregated by whether they are either income or categorically eligible or meet the over-income requirements of paragraph (c)(2) of this section; and,
(vii) The eligibility criteria category of each child on the program's waiting list.
(e) Additional Allowances for Indian tribes.
(1) Notwithstanding paragraph (c)(2) of this section, a tribal Head Start or Early Head Start program may fill more than10 percent of its enrollment with participants whose family incomes exceed the low-income guidelines or who are not categorically eligible, if:
(i) The program has served all pregnant women or children who wish to be enrolled from Indian and non-Indian families living on the reservation who either meet low-income guidelines or who are categorically eligible;
(ii) The program has served all pregnant women or children who wish to be enrolled from income-eligible or categorically-eligible Indian families native to the reservation, but living in non-reservation areas the tribe has approved as part of its service area;
(iii) The tribe has resources within its grant or from other non-Federal sources, without using additional funds from HHS intended to expand Early Head Start or Head Start services, to enroll pregnant women or children whose family incomes exceed low-income guidelines or who are not categorically eligible; and,
(2) If another Early Head Start or Head Start program does not serve a non-reservation area, the program must serve all income-eligible and categorically-eligible Indian and non-Indian pregnant women or children who wish to enroll before serving over-income pregnant women or children.
(3) A program that meets the conditions of this paragraph must annually set criteria that are approved by the policy council and the tribal council for selecting over-income pregnant women or children who would benefit from Early Head Start or Head Start services.
(f) Categorical eligibility requirements.
(1) A family is categorically eligible for Head Start, if:
(i) The child is homeless, as defined in § 1305.2; or,
(ii) The child is in foster care, as defined in § 1305.2.
(2) If a program determines a child is categorically eligible under paragraph (f)(1)(i) of this section, it must allow the child to attend a Head Start program, without immunization and other medical records, proof of residency, birth certificates, or other documents. The program must give the family reasonable time to present these documents.
(g) Migrant or Seasonal eligibility requirements. A child is eligible for Migrant or Seasonal Head Start, if:
(h) Verifying age. Program staff must verify a child's age according to program policies and procedures. A program's policies and procedures cannot require staff to collect documents that confirm a child's age, if doing so creates a barrier for the family to enroll the child.
(i) Verifying income.
(iii) State whether the pregnant woman or child qualifies as low-income.
(2) If the family cannot provide all W-2 forms, pay stubs, or pay envelopes for the relevant time period, program staff may accept written statements from employers for the relevant time period and use information provided to calculate total annual income with appropriate multipliers.
(i) Accept the family's signed declaration to that effect, if program staff:
(ii) Seeks information from third parties about the family's eligibility, if the family gives written consent. If a family gives consent to contact third parties, program staff must adhere to program safety and privacy policies and procedures and ensure the eligibility determination record adheres to paragraph (l)(2)(ii)(C) in this section.
(j) Verifying categorical eligibility.
(1) A family can prove categorical eligibility, with:
(i) A court order or other legal or government-issued document or a written statement from a government child welfare official demonstrating the child is in foster care;
(ii) A written statement from a homeless services provider, school personnel, or other service agency attesting that the child is homeless or any other documentation that indicates homelessness, including documentation from a public or private agency, a declaration, information gathered on enrollment or application forms, or notes from an interview with staff to establish the child is homeless, as defined in § 1305.2 or,
(iii) Any other document that establishes categorical eligibility.
(i) Describe efforts made to verify the accuracy of the information provided; and,
(3) If a family cannot provide one of the documents described in paragraph (j)(1) of this section to prove the child is homeless, a program may accept the family's signed declaration to that effect, if, in a written statement, program staff:
(i) Describes the efforts made to verify that a child is homeless, as defined in § 1305.2; and,
(ii) Describes the child's living situation, including the specific condition described in § 1305.2 under which the child was determined to be homeless.
(4) Program staff may seek information from third parties who have first-hand knowledge about a family's categorical eligibility, if the family gives consent. If the family gives consent to contact third parties, program staff must adhere to program safety and privacy policies and procedures and ensure the eligibility determination record adheres to paragraph (l) (2)(ii)(C) in this section.
(k) Eligibility duration.
(1) If a child is determined eligible under this section and is participating in a Head Start program, he or she will remain eligible through the end of the succeeding program year.
(2) If a program operates both an Early Head Start and a Head Start program, and the parents wish to enroll their child who has been enrolled in the program's Early Head Start, the program must ensure, whenever possible, the child receives Head Start services until enrolled in school.
(2) Each eligibility determination record must include:
(i) Copies of any documents or statements, including declarations, that are deemed necessary to verify eligibility under paragraphs (h) through (j) of this section;
(ii) A statement that program staff has made reasonable efforts to verify information by:
(B) Describing efforts made to verify eligibility, as required under paragraphs (h) through (j) of this section; and,
(C) Collecting documents required for third party verification under paragraphs (i)(3)(ii) and (j)(4) of this section, that includes:
(1) The family's written consent to contact each third party;
(2) The third parties' names, titles, and affiliations; and,
(3) Information from third parties regarding the family's eligibility.
(iii) A statement that identifies whether:
(B) The family is eligible for or, in the absence of child care, potentially eligible for public assistance;
(C) The child is homeless child, as defined at § 1305.2 including the specific condition described in § 1305.2 under which the child was determined to be homeless;
(D) The child is in foster care;
(3) A program must keep eligibility determination records:
(ii) For one year after they have either stopped receiving services; or,
(iii) Are no longer enrolled.
(m) Program policies and procedures on violating eligibility determination regulations. A program must establish policies and procedures that describe all actions taken against staff who intentionally violate Federal and program eligibility determination regulations and who enroll pregnant women and children that are not eligible to receive Early Head Start or Head Start services.
(1) A program must train all governing body, policy council, management, and staff who determine eligibility on applicable Federal regulations and program policies and procedures. Training must, at a minimum:
(i) Include methods on how to collect complete and accurate eligibility information from families and third party sources;
(ii) Incorporate strategies for treating families with dignity and respect and for dealing with possible issues of domestic violence, stigma, and privacy; and,
(iii) Explain program policies and procedures that describe actions taken against staff, families, or participants who intentionally attempt to provide or provide false information.
(2) A program must train management and staff members who make eligibility determinations within 90 days following the effective date of this rule, and as soon as possible, but within 90 days of hiring new staff after the initial training has been conducted.
(3) A program must train all governing body and policy council members within 180 days following the effective date of this rule, and within 180 days of the beginning of the term of a new governing body or policy council member after the initial training has been conducted.