New OHS Director: Bernadine Futrell
Bernadine Futrell.jpg

Bernadine Futrell, Ph.D., is the director of the Office of Head Start (OHS) at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families.  Dr. Futrell, a Head Start child, began her career as an assistant Head Start teacher in Richmond, Virginia. She came to OHS in the Biden Administration from the National Head Start Association (NHSA), where she was most recently the senior director for effective practice.  Prior to NHSA, Dr. Futrell led superintendent certification programs at the American Association of School Administrators.

She is co-author of the book ConnectED Leaders: Network and Amplify your Superintendency, and a regular contributor in research studies. Committed to service, she is a member of the advisory committees at George Mason University and Howard University.

Dr. Futrell holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, a master’s degree in educational psychology from George Mason University, a Ph.D. in education policy from George Mason University and post-graduate certificates from Complutense University of Madrid and Harvard University. Dr. Futrell and her husband are the proud parents of two elementary-aged children. 

FY 2021 Head Start Funding Increase


The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260), was signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020. The funding level for programs under the Head Start Act, including Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, is $10,748,095,000, an increase of $135 million over fiscal year (FY) 2020. This increase includes funding to provide a 1.22% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for all Head Start, Early Head Start, and Early Head Start-Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnership grantees and $10 million for Migrant and Seasonal grantee quality improvement funding. COLA and quality improvement funding announced in this instruction does not apply to new competitive expansion awards issued during FY 2021.


The Consolidated Appropriations Act also includes $250 million in supplemental funds for Head Start programs to continue their response to COVID-19. This is in addition to the $750 million in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, 2020. Funds are made available for the same purpose of preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19. The Office of Head Start (OHS) will again distribute this funding proportionally to all grantees based on funded enrollment levels.


This Program Instruction (PI) provides information about the FY 2021 COLA, quality improvement funding for Migrant and Seasonal grantees, and the supplemental funds available to support grantees’ continued response to COVID-19. It makes brief mention of the application requirements, but more details will be forthcoming.

INFORMATION MEMORANDUM: Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Monitoring Process for Head Start and Early Head Start Grantees


Sec. 641A of the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 requires the Office of Head Start (OHS) to implement ongoing monitoring of all programs receiving federal funds. As a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and public health emergency, all monitoring reviews for the 2020–2021 school year will be conducted virtually. This decision was based on two principles that have driven OHS's decisions and guidance to programs throughout this period: (1) taking decisive actions to support each program's success and (2) keeping the safety of children and staff paramount.

Partnering with Tribal Colleges and Universities to Strengthen Early Education

By Dr. Deborah Bergeron


$4 Million to Increase the Number of Qualified Head Start and Early Head Start Staff
This week, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) awarded $4 million to six Tribal College and University Head Start (TCU-HS) Partnership Programs. This funding will be used to increase the number of qualified education staff working in American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Head Start and Early Head Start programs.


"Educators who possess child development knowledge and relationship competencies, and who are culturally and linguistically responsive to the children and families they serve, play a critical role in supporting the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers most impacted by inequality," said Deborah Bergeron, director of the Office of Head Start. "Further, many Head Start staff begin as Head Start parents. Increasing their skills and employability can break the cycle of poverty for their entire family."

In fiscal year 2019, Head Start provided funding to 154 American Indian tribal governments or consortia grantees that served over 23,000 children and their families. AIAN programs experience challenges employing staff who have both early childhood education credentials as well as representative cultural and language knowledge. Currently, 23% of teachers in AIAN preschool classrooms need to obtain degrees and 33% of Early Head Start teachers in AIAN programs need to acquire at least a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. An even larger number of preschool teacher assistants need to enroll in a program to earn the minimum credential requirement. Geographic barriers, lack of child care, and lack of internet access are among the challenges faced by AIAN Head Start staff needing to meet credential requirements.
"Increasing the skills of Head Start and Early Head Start teachers will have a direct impact on preparing generations of Native American children and families to succeed in school," said Jeannie Hovland, commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans. "These grants have been awarded to institutions with innovative and convincing proposals to meet the unique needs of individual Native communities. They will assist Head Start staff in acquiring the competencies that ensure children's academic development while also supporting cultural identity."


The plans proposed by the successful institutions include strong, personal support for enrollees; flexibility in course delivery and design (e.g., on-site, distance learning, innovative approach); ability to provide preliminary or remedial instruction; assistance with tuition, books, and other costs; articulation agreements that permit transfer of credit to and from multiple colleges or universities; and credit for professional experience.

The awardees are:
•    Navajo Technical College
•    Salish Kootenai College 
•    Stone Child College Corporation
•    Fond Du Lac Tribal and Community College
•    White Earth Tribal and Community College
•    Cankdeska Cikana Community College


Head Start programs promote school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families by supporting the development of the whole child. They also support children's growth and development in a positive learning environment through a variety of services, which include early learning, health, and family well-being. Learn more about Head Start programs at

The Administration for Native Americans promotes self-sufficiency for Native Americans. It provides discretionary grant funding for community-based projects as well as training and technical assistance to eligible tribes and Native organizations. Find out more at

Native Language and Culture Experiences Among Children in Region XI Head Start Classrooms and Programs: Findings From the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey 2015

This research brief uses data from the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (AI/AN FACES) 2015 (see Box 2) to provide nationally representative descriptive information about children’s Native language and culture experiences in their Region XI classrooms and programs.

Read the entire brief here.

PROGRAM INSTRUCTION: Final Rule on Designation Renewal System Changes

Issuance Date: 8/27/2020


The Office of Head Start (OHS) announced in the Federal Register a final rule updating the Designation Renewal System (DRS). In the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, Congress required the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to both establish a DRS and to periodically review the system. HHS first established the DRS through a final rule in 2011, and has been regularly analyzing data on the implementation of the system and on the grantees required to compete. OHS is confident the DRS has driven increases in the quality of Head Start and Early Head Start services, but believes improvements can be made to the system.

This final rule includes revisions to three of the seven conditions of the DRS: the deficiency condition, the condition related to the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS®), and the fiscal condition related to audit findings. These changes will ensure OHS identifies those grantees where competition is the most warranted and more effectively holds grantees accountable, while also making the DRS more transparent.

Region XI Head Start children’s Native language and culture experiences in their homes and communities

Members of the Tribal Early Childhood Research Center Native Language and Culture Community of Learning used data from the 2015 American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (AI/AN FACES) to prepare a research brief on Region XI Head Start children’s Native language and culture experiences in their homes and communities.  The brief provides background on the importance of language and culture in children’s development.  It also highlights the extent to which Native language is used in children’s homes and the extent to which parents value children’s Native language learning and use.  Although English is the primary language spoken in 95% of Region XI children’s homes, nearly half of Region XI children are in homes that use a Native language at least some of the time.  Nearly all parents (91% of parents in homes where there is no Native language use, and 99% of parents in homes where there is at least some Native language use) feel that it is somewhat or very important that their children learn a Native language.  The brief includes policy and practice implications of the data for Native language and culture in Head Start and other early childhood settings.  For example, the brief states, “community-based credentialing to certify language teachers and support for bilingual instruction and assessments in languages other than English can support AI/AN communities’ efforts to revitalize Native language and culture by removing some of the obstacles.  Home- and center-based early childhood education and care programs such as Home Visiting, Head Start, and Child Care can support the inclusion of Native language and culture in the programs’ home-to-school connection efforts.  These programs are in a unique position to get to know families and build upon families’ specific cultural strengths.”  
The brief in its entirety can be accessed at the Administration for Children and Families AI/AN FACES website here  For more information about the Tribal Early Childhood Research Center, go to

American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey 2019 (AI/AN FACES 2019) Highlights

Since 1997, the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) has been a regular source of nationally representative data on Head Start programs, centers, classrooms, children, and families. Until the 2015–2016 program year, however, FACES had not been conducted in Region XI AI/AN Head Start programs. This was due in part to the time and resources required to engage in the intensive community-based planning and implementation process needed to successfully carry out the study in partnership with Region XI Head Start programs and communities. In 2015, the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family Experiences Survey (AI/AN FACES) was the first national study of Region XI American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Head Start children, families, and programs. The next American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey 2019 (AI/AN FACES 2019) will provide the latest information about Region XI and reflect current policy and program practices, with a particular focus on children’s school readiness skills.

AI/AN FACES 2015 Briefs | A Portrait of Children and Families and Children's Growth and Development

Two new briefs utilizing data from the AI/AN Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey 2015 are now available!


  • A Year in Region XI Head Start: Children’s Growth and Development from the American Indian and Alaska native Family and Child Experiences Survey 2015 – link here

  • Region XI American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start: A Portrait of Children and Families – link here


Additional resources can be found on the AI/AN FACES page of the ACF/OPRE website here.

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