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Undercover Testing Finds Fraud and Abuse at Selected Head Start Centers

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2010
30 pages
This report presents findings from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into fraud and abuse allegations at Head Start Centers.
After receiving allegations of fraud and abuse involving two Head Start nonprofit grantees in the Midwest and Texas, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) substantiated two of the many allegations. While not fraudulent, GAO found that at both grantees, the average number of students who attended class was significantly lower than the number of students the grantees reported as enrolled in class. Through undercover test scenarios at centers in six States and the District of Columbia, GAO found eight instances where staff fraudulently misrepresented information as well as Head Start employees who lied about applicants' employment status or misrepresented their earnings. The Head Start program provides child development services primarily to low-income families and their children. GAO received hotline tips alleging fraud by grantees. In response, GAO investigated the allegations, conducted undercover tests to determine if other centers were committing fraud, and documented instances where potentially eligible children were put on Head Start wait lists. In 2010, GAO testified on the preliminary results of the ongoing investigation. This report reiterates the findings disclosed in GAO's 2010 testimony and discusses new findings related to specific fraud allegations at two Head Start grantees. Appendix and tables