Policy & Regulations

Head Start Act

On Dec. 12, 2007, President Bush signed Public Law 110-134 "Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007" reauthorizing the Head Start program through Sept. 30, 2012. Read the amended Head Start Act or view/download the PDF version in English [PDF 540KB] and Spanish [PDF 833KB].

Head Start Performance Standards

The Head Start Performance Standards define standards and minimum requirements for the entire range of Early Head Start and Head Start services. They are applicable to both Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

HHS has proposed the first holistic revision and complete reorganization of the Head Start Program Performance Standards since they were originally published in 1975. The Head Start Program Performance Standards Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) was published in the Federal Register on June 19, 2015. It includes the proposed Program Performance Standards, as well as a preamble with helpful information for context.

The Office of Head Start (OHS) accepted comments on the NPRM from the public for 90 days following publication. OHS received about 1,000 comments, which will inform the development of a final rule. All comments received are a part of the public record and are posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change.

Please note the current Performance Standards will remain in effect until a final rule is issued.

Find more about the NPRM on the ECLKC website.

Program Instructions

A Program Instruction (PI) addresses a specific requirement that Head Start grantees and delegate agencies must implement in their programs.

Information Memorandums

An Information Memorandum (IM) is a targeted communication tool from the Office of Head Start which provides policy information to Head Start and Early Head Start grantees and delegate agencies.

Head Start Designation Renewal

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as required by Congress in the Head Start Act, established the Designation Renewal System (DRS) to establish five year grant periods for all Head Start service awards. Many agencies receiving further five year grants without competing for funding. Any agency which meets a specified condition during the course of the grant period is not eligible for funding without competition. Instead, the opportunity to provide Head Start services in that area is made available to any interested agency which submits a competitive application in response to a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). 

Funding Opportunity Annoucements are listed on the ACF Grants page - sort by Application Due Date to see the Open FOAs.

Last Reviewed: June 30, 2016