Head Start Enrolling Kids Too Rich To Qualify, Including In Texas, GAO Reports
The problem with the Head Start program is that it's always been an exclusive, good-ole-boy club where only poor and disenfranchised kids can matriculate. The doors are flung wide open to ragamuffins, only to be slammed shut in the faces of eager children whose parents can afford to buy them shoes.
But a new report by the Government Accountability Office shows that some Head Start faculty members in Texas and five other states fudged applications to allow kids who would actually be considered "over-income," and thus ineligible.
"This leaves Head Start at risk that over-income children may be enrolled while legitimate under-income children are put on wait lists," the report states.
According to the report, "approximately 4,260" kids are enrolled in 36 Head Start centers in Texas. Nearly 1,200 are on a waiting list. Unfortunately, the report doesn't identify which city or cities investigators targeted.
The report is based on results from undercover investigators who tried to register 15 "fictitious" kids in various Head Start centers. In Texas, "a Head Start associate disregarded over $20,000 worth of income in order to qualify the family as under-income....With respect to the income documentation, the associate stated 'we see this, but we don't see this,' explaining that if both parents' incomes were counted, the family would be over-income and on a wait list."
According to the report, "our bogus applicant was assured that the government would never come back to verify the income."
There's also the case of a Head Start representative overlooking "$11,700 in nonagricultural work in order to qualify the family of three...for migrant Head Start services." With that portion of the family's salary, they would be 130 percent over the poverty guideline.
Unbelievably, these fake kids could have taken spots that are meant for families like the single mother raising two children who investigators interviewed. The woman "earns $1,025 month -- $6,000 a year below the poverty level. The mother works nights and sleeps only a few hours a day as a result of not having child care for her son during the day."
Frankly, we don't see what the problem is. All these Head Start people were trying to do was give people who don't live in poverty a chance. Between food stamps and luxurious Section 8 housing, poor people get all the good stuff. Why not let someone else have a chance for a change?
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.