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5.7 Open Government Head Start

Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of children ages birth to 5 from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development. Head Start programs offer a variety of service models, depending on the needs of the local community. Programs may be based in: centers or schools that children attend for part-day or full-day services; family child care homes; or children's own homes, where a staff person visits once a week to provide services to the child and families. The Office of Head Start (OHS), within the ACF of HHS, awards grants to public and private agencies on a competitive basis to provide these comprehensive services to specific communities. In the interest of informing parents and policymakers about the location and quality of local Head Start grantees, OHS is committed to providing information on grantees to the public in ever increasing ways, including center locations, results of monitoring reviews, and Program Information Report (PIR) data.

The Open Government-Head Start Initiative provides information to parents and policy makers about the location and quality of local programs. We are sensitive to the broad audience and growing technologies in keeping this commitment. Our 2014 release of the Center Locations download page was targeted towards a developer or researcher, while our plan to add helpful program information to the Center Locator is targeted towards the family that wants to learn more about the Head Start program near their home. The source of data might be the same but the delivery of the information is thoughtfully different. This thoughtfulness in approach can be seen across our open data efforts, and results in a stronger and user-friendly open government. In our upcoming releases, we will continue to consider the audience and methods we can deploy to give the user the tools to explore our data.  

Over the past two years, ACF has made substantial progress in making Head Start program information more transparent. In 2013, ACF implemented the Program Service Reports, which provide national and grantee-level information on PIR and federal monitoring of Head Start and Early Head Start programs. ACF also contributed to the initiative by developing a Head Start location API. In the next iteration, ACF plans to continue this work towards transparency by enhancing the locator widget to include more program-level information, profile, options, annual reports, grantee-owned descriptions and improve user interface. ACF also plans to develop mobile apps on Apple and Android platforms to facilitate easier accessibility among users.

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