Practice Areas

Head Start Act/HSPPS Legal Compliance Program

For Head Start and Early Head Start Grantees, the strict requirements mandated by both the Head Start Act and the Head Start Program Performance Standards can be inimitdating and overwhelming.  While your team (Board, Policy Council, Management, and Staff) is working overtime to ensure that your children are receiving an essential early childhood education (as well as health, mental health, and social supports), your entire team also needs to ensure full program compliance with the Head Start Act and Head Start Program Performance Standards to maintain your grant funding.  It's a difficult task, which consistently results in many programs entering the Designation Renewal System and facing the loss of their Head Start/Early Head programs.

As a former Executive Director of a Head Start/Early Head Start program (a Community Action Agency), I understand the operational and governance challenges facing grantees.  I've been through monitoring and I've been through the Designation Renewal System (DRS) and lived to tell the tale.  I know that it would be a relief to programs if a lot of the time and energy programs put into preparing for Area One and Area Two monitoring visits or (especially) preparing to enter DRS could be alleviated.   While programs hire a multitude of consultants with Training/Technical Assistance (T/TA), most of the consultants are not legal professionals (never attended law school or have licenses to practice law)  However, many programs are entrusting non-attorneys to advise them about compliance with the Head Start Act and Head Start Program Performance Standards, much of which is legal compliance.  

If you want a real lawyer with real Head Start experience to advise your program on how to maintain compliance to satisfy the Regional Office monitors or the DRS reviewers, we offer Head Start and Head Start Grantees everywhere our Head Start Act/HSPPS Legal Compliance Program.  When you engage our firm, you become a client (and hence the program receives attorney-client confidentiality privilege unlike typical consultants), and we ensure that your Board, Policy Council and Managment are full advised about where the compliance risk factors exist, what to do to remedy the risk factors and provide direct assistance to ensure the remedies are put into place.

Areas that we review and provide advice, counsel and relief include, but are not limited to:

  • Serving as legal consultant to the program’s board of directors if attorney-director is not available (Satisfies 642(c)(1)(b) of the Head Start Act)
  • Reviewing , revising or drafting a conflict-of interest policy for use by governing board and providing training on how to utilize (Satisfies 642(c)(1)(E) of the Head Start Act and 1301.5 HSPPS)
  • Reviewing, revising or drafting impasse policy between governing board and policy council (Satisfies 642(c)(1)(E) of the Head Start Act)
  • Providing advice and counsel to governing board to ensure program compliance with federal laws and regulations, applicable state, tribal and local laws and regulations (Satisfies 642(c)(1)(E) of the Head Start Act) (Note – Only North Carolina, Florida and states where counsel can be admitted as corporate counsel per state law for advice and counsel regarding state or local law regulations)
  • Reviewing all relevant board, committee and policy council meeting minutes to ensure all bodies are documenting actions related to review of : monthly financial statements, monthly program info summaries, monthly report of meals (USDA/CACFP), Financial Audit/Single Audit, Annual Budget, Annual Self-Assessment, Community Needs Assessment, Communications from ACF/Regional Office, Program Information Reports (PIR) (Satisfies 642(c)(1)(E) of the Head Start Act and 1301.3(3) Head Start Program Performance Standards)
  • Reviewing and revising program’s HR personnel policies (in coordination with program's management) and advise governing body and policy council regarding adoption (Satisfies 642(c)(1)(E) of the Head Start Act)
  • Reviewing, revising and drafting whistleblower policy for program and providing training to governing board (Satisfies 642(c)(1)(E) of the Head Start Act and HSPPS 1301.5)
  • Assisting governing board with performing compensation review of CEO (Satisfies 642(c)(1)(E) of the Head Start Act)
  • Reviewing, revising and drafting bylaws for Policy Council (Satisfies 642(c)(2)(D) of the Head Start Act)
  • Providing agency with legal assistance regarding negotiation and drafting agreements with potential delegate agencies, including providing assistance with monitoring delegate agency’s compliance with such agreement
  • Providing legal advice and counsel to programs when programs determine it wants to convert Head Start slots to Early Head Start slots per Head Start Act requirements

Because this program focusses entirely on compliance with the Head Start Act and Head Start Program Performance Standards (federal authoarity), our attorneys can travel (or conduct services virtually) to any program in the country.  We can also provide a competitive fixed price (no hourly billing) for this essential legal compliance package that can fit within your Head Start program's T/TA budget.  

When it comes to Head Start monitoring reviews, it is better for programs 'to have and not need than need and not have.'  We'll work with you to ensure that you have everything, from a legal compliance perspective necessary to satisfy Area One and Area Two reviews or if prepare your program better for the Designation Renewal System competition.  

If you want to learn more contact Attorney Rocky Cabagnot at