The Office of Head Start on Monday, November 20 issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) with major updates to the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS). This proposal represents the most consequential changes to Head Start since the 2015 reauthorization. The 282-page NPRM details 67 proposed new rules and initializes a public comment period that will close on January 19, 2024.

We are confident that by working together, we can make our voices heard. Our community is loud, our community is large, and that makes our community powerful. Head Start programs used our collective voice to exert compelling influence over the last reauthorization – we aim to do the same now.

Head Start California will be submitting formal written comments on the proposed new rules. To guide our comments, we invite you to participate in a Zoom meeting to share your thoughts with us on Thursday, December 7 at 2PM or Wednesday, January 3 at 10AM. We are also working closely with our partners at the National Head Start Association and encourage you to complete this NHSA survey to share your concerns. NHSA will be sharing survey responses with us, and we will use your feedback submitted in the listening sessions and survey to craft our comments. You are also encouraged to submit comments directly on behalf of your program.

Summary of Key Proposed Changes

Following are a selection of particularly impactful changes from the NPRM. Visit this page to view all 67 proposed changes.


Category Proposed Changes
Employee Compensation
  • Requirement that programs establish pay scales and benchmark salaries against the local school district’s compensation for similarly qualified K-3 teachers
  • Requirement that minimum pay be sufficient to meet basic cost of living in the local area
  • Substantial increases in benefits, including providing (or facilitating access to) health insurance; sick, personal, and family leave; and mental health services
Mental Health
  • Establishment of a multidisciplinary mental health team
  • Requirement to provide mental health consultation services at least monthly
  • Allowing programs to work with “mental health consultants” who are providing services under licensed mental health professionals
Quality Improvements
  • Establish a maximum caseload of 40 families per family service worker
  • Protect children from exposure to lead in the water and paint of Head Start facilities through regular testing and, if needed, remediation
  • Encourage lower teacher to child ratios for Early Head Start classrooms serving the youngest children
  • Revise definition of ‘income’ to provide a clear, finite list of income sources that should be counted for eligibility determination
  • Adjust a family’s gross income to account for excessive housing costs in their community, for eligibility determination purposes




Following are resources for you to learn more about the proposed changes.

Documents Webinars
OHS Fact Sheet

Full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (282 pages)

NHSA Statement on Proposed Changes

Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers (impetus for the proposed changes)

NHSA Overview Webinar


Recorded OHS Overview Webinar (high level overview of changes and comment process – 1 hour)

Recorded OHS Deep Dive Webinar (deeper dive into proposed changes and comment process – 1 hour)

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