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  • Head Start Fraud: It’s Worse than You Think

    “Fraud,” “deceit,” and “exploitation.”  Those words were used this week at a hearing about the Head Start program–the federal government’s long-standing preschool program for low-income children. An investigation carried out by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), revealed several cases of underreporting of income and the falsification of addresses by Head Start employees in order to “qualify” children for the program. Head Start grantees receive money based on the number of children they serve.

    As reported in an Education and Labor committee hearing on May 18, reports of two fraudulent cases lead the GAO to conduct an undercover investigation in which they attempted to enroll 15 fraudulent children. In over half of these cases Head Start employees encouraged families to misrepresent their income, falsify family income on enrollment forms, or make claims that a working parent was instead unemployed.

    Representative Kline issued a statement about the GAO report:

    GAO’s finding of fraudulent practices at half the centers investigated raises serious questions about the pervasiveness of these practices. I applaud the GAO’s efforts to bring this information to light, and I welcome the broader inquiry by the Inspector General to determine the larger program vulnerabilities.

    And indeed there are larger vulnerabilities in the federal government’s largest preschool program. A recently-released federally-mandated evaluation of Head Start revealed that the program produced zero lasting academic impacts for children. Yet taxpayers have poured $167 billion into it for the last 45 years. Despite the most recent Head Start Impact Study clearly indicating that students who participate in the program do not fare any better than their non-attending peers and in some cases even do worse, Congress has allocated $1 billion more to this program for FY 2011.

    One would think the government’s largest preschool program – at $9 billion per year – being deemed ineffective would garner some attention. But in a recent Heritage Foundation panel, Drs. Russ Whitehurst, the director of education policy research at the Brookings Institution, and Nicholas Zill, who worked as a lead analyst on the study–pointed out that it took the government six years from the time the data was collected to get around to reporting the results. Said Dr. Whitehurst:

    Delayed data are useless data. One reason we’ve gotten so little attention to the data is that the actions that should have been predicated on the results of the study have already been taken…I think the main reason why [the study is] being ignored is the results were negative. In fact, I think if the results were positive, even if they had been delayed years and years they would have been on the front page of the New York Times, The Washington Post, and many other media outlets.

    Yet at Tuesday’s hearing, all that was heard about Head Start was the virtues of this program and how to make sure that the neediest children are not harmed as a result of enrollment fraud. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), head of the Education and Labor Committee, firmly stated:

    Head Start works for our children and we are here today to make sure it will continue to do so.

    Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) clearly stated that Head Start is supposed to close the achievement gap between needy children and their more affluent peers. And Carmen Nazario, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, pointed out that Head Start provides almost 1 million children with “a much needed chance at success.”

    Unfortunately, in a hearing meant to uncover the truth, these statements perpetuated the false notion that Head Start is succeeding at its mission. Mr. Gregory Kutz of the Government Accountability Office spoke more accurately, when he stated: “I fear that enrollment fraud is not the only fraud in the Head Start program.” He’s right: it’s hard to conclude otherwise after 45 years, $167 billion, and little benefit for millions of children. Shouldn’t we hope for better for America’s young learners?

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to Head Start Fraud: It’s Worse than You Think

    1. MJF, CT says:

      So, is Hear Start run by ACORN workers? This whole "gap" thing is ridiculous. The rich will always be able to afford the best universities and the poor will not. Trying to bridge the gap does not work. You are what you are and trying to make the poor equal to the rich will never work.

      Maybe look into the "Big Business" of education. That's something the Liberals don't want you to see – just how much money gets pocketed in the "education" system of higher learning!

    2. Beverly Smith-Jackso says:

      The program is an excellent earlychildhood program. The people responsible for the management of the funds is the problem. Greed, decit and abuse is the order of the day in many programs.There sholud be a thorough investigation in all programs and more strigent audits. Please someone do something about the waste of our tax funds because of unscrupolous individuals.

    3. MJW, Bakersfield, CA says:

      Remember those days when grandad would proudly proclaim, "I've never taken a dime of charity and I never will." Some of those oldtimers wouldn't take unemployment insurance benefits, even if they were clearly eligible. I'm sad to say those days are quickly coming to an end. Many, many millions in our country believe it is not just acceptable, but perfectly normal to turn first to the government for their day to day sustenance, whether it's school breakfasts and lunches, food stamps, medical care, child care, and even cash aid. This is just the way things are done now. The people that encourage others to lie in order to get benefits by defrauding taxpayers truly do not believe they are doing anything wrong. Nor do the beneficiaries of this fraud. I believe it is likely many of the employees at Head Start complict in this fraud have themselves come out of the same culture of entitlement and dependency that Head Start caters to.

    4. Billie says:

      Private daycares have ALWAYS WORKED! Parents are much more informed of what is involved on a daily basis and in control of where their money is going. Head start is nothing more then a FREE DAYCARE! Parents need to be more responsible to their children and know the ugliness of government run anything! When government is in control, the PARENTS ARE NOT! feeding children all this racial hatred crap and white privilege that only exists because the American government education feed the minds of the youth! …the younger, the better.

    5. Linda, Glendale, Cal says:

      Money and power. The government, meaning the people that run it, want to tie the children to their apron strings instead of mother's. " We the people" have been so busy having a good time for so long that we have not been doing our job in holding our government leaders accountable. I believe we have come to the brink. Will we wake up and turn back to our founding principles or continue on the path we are on until it is too late. The fraud in Head Start that you are pointing out is just one excellent example of the fraud and corruption that has become entrenched at all levels of government. Unfortunately, this particular institution, Head Start, is more insidious than most because it indoctrinates our children from the time they are infants with the idea that the government is their nanny.

    6. Erin, Delaware says:

      I work for Head Start and am very suprised to hear about the fraud. Every day is a blessing to come to work and the children. I hope everything gets solved and fixed because this program is for the CHILDREN of USA who need help learning. We literally give them a headstart in life by teaching them in a safe enviroment. Before anyone says anything more, please go volunteer a day at your local head start and you will see the difference we make in these kids life. Not to mention, we provide them a warm meal everyday, maybe their only healthy meal because their families are low income. We are here to EMPOWER our future LEADERS.

    7. Erin, Delaware says:

      And about those comments on the kids and government having ties to each other at a young age… The children do not know or understand that the government funds the program. All they know is that they get to go to school to learn, eat, and socialize with other kids. There is no conspiracy, fraud, or money running through their heads when they are here. The children, as I am, are just happy to have the opportunity to be together, making a difference at such a young age when they are so vulnerable but very much capable to soak up so much knowledge.

    8. Billie says:

      "knowledge" depends on what and who is teaching. Government education influences conflicts of interest and socialistic living. There is no freedom in SOCIALISM. You are very right, the vulnerable minds of children don't know!

    9. Melanie, Mesquite says:

      Whoever published this is probably sitting in their fourty million dollar mansion that their mommy and daddy paid for and have never lived in the real world. My son went to Head Start while I was a single mother putting myself through college to be a teacher, I might add, and my son did nothing but benefit from the wonderful program. Not to mention the fact that without programs such as these, I would not have been able to better my life, after my husband walked out, leaving me with nothing and no way to take care of my son. He gave up his rights, I might add because he preferred a life of care-free partying. I am graduating this fall and this is all thanks to programs such as this so why don't you go polish your fine china or something instead of critizing things you have no clue about.

    10. annagirlnyc says:

      Head Start needs to be run by the Department of Education and maintained with

      student interns from various colleges..

    11. Charlotte Harrison B says:

      You should see all the Hispanic families that send their ELL children to Head Start. These "English Language Learners" will be awarded with two years of all day Head Start when they're ages three and four. Frequently the parents will show up at Head Start driving a brand-new fully-loaded Lincoln Navigor, Cadillac Escalade, or a Lexus sedan. The whole family will wear gleaming 18K gold chains and rings. The little girls are always wearing designer outfits, name-brand shoes, and lovely gold chains and jeweled rings. When the schools have professional photography day, you'd think that the little girls are competing in some regional beauty pageant. They're made up in cosmetics and party dresses. Head Start is supposed to be for poor, disadvantaged children as a "war on poverty". I'm wondering if maybe these Hispanic parents aren't declaring their income properly to be included in this federally funded program? Something seems kind of fishy with all that.

    12. ANNAGIRLNYC says:

      Their needs to be a investigation into Head Start

    13. Susan Robins says:

      The staff and the rolls at head starts around the country are chocked to the gills with illegals and you will see in the tracking software how an illegal will have child 7 in January and child 8 in October or November of the very same year. (I've seen the actual enrollment first hand) You will also see Head Start organizations wasting stunning amounts on "training" for their tracking software even repeating lessons 6 times for the same software as well has having very high turn over for personnel. You should also have a very close look at the PIR or program information report and look at their questions. How in the world is the race of a teacher relevant unless you are yourself a racist which the HHS is very much!

    14. lor says:

      The teachers should be well prepared and have their AA or AS in Child development.. Teachers should have thier credientals or child development permits in order to be teaching children or in a center with them. There is staff that only have 6 to 8 units without permits or CDC licenses to be in centers. There are staff members that have thier children in the program. They are in the program. picking and choose who they want to get . Staff is not trained or have propertly credentals to be with children.

    15. ms.bella says:

      Free day care does not stop the cycle of poverty.

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