Mathematica Comments on Proposed Rule to Support Head Start Workforce

Mathematica Comments on Proposed Rule to Support Head Start Workforce

Jan 22, 2024
Happy Latin American schoolboy playing with building blocks in the classroom and the supervision of his teacher

Mathematica submitted comments to the Office of Head Start (OHS) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) on a proposed rule to revise the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) with the aim of stabilizing the Head Start workforce and improving service quality. In the comments, Mathematica highlighted key points supporting the proposed changes and identified ways to effectively understand and support implementation.

“The proposed changes will involve a substantial shift in how Head Start programs use resources,” wrote Mathematica. “Understanding and exploring the implementation of the changes, along with any effects and unintended consequences, will be important for Head Start and the ECE field more broadly.”

Drawing on its long history of conducting research in partnership with Head Start programs to inform policy and planning, Mathematica identified the following areas as warranting investigation as the changes are rolled out:

  • How changes in HSPPS impact the broader early care and education (ECE) system
  • Whether reductions in enrollment affect some programs and communities disproportionately
  • Defining the staff for whom the standards apply

In addition, Mathematica emphasized the substantial need for training and technical assistance supports to help agencies meet the proposed Head Start wage standards within larger organizational funding mechanisms and salary structures.

Mathematica believes the proposed changes to wages, along with increased attention on the mental health and wellness needs of staff, children, and families, can improve Head Start programs for educators and families who would most benefit from comprehensive Head Start services. “The proposed changes to HSPPS have the potential to alter the ECE landscape greatly, beyond the Head Start program,” Mathematica concluded. “Technical assistance and research can continue to inform implementation and ensure programs have needed supports.”