Eligibility, Recruitment, Selection, Enrollment, & Attendance Policy Number and Last Update (02.02.01e/06-2016)


The program's purpose is to apply its resources to serve all, and only, eligible children of migrant and seasonal farm-workers in Illinois, as defined by its funding source, the Office of Head Start, ACF. 

45 CFR 1305



At least 90% of the children who are enrolled in each delegate or partner must be from families whose gross cash incomes do not exceed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Family Income Guidelines. Up to 10% of the children who are enrolled may be from families that exceed the low-income guidelines, but who meet the criteria that the program has established for selecting such children and who would benefit from Head Start services. An additional 35% of children may be from families whose gross cash incomes do not exceed 130% of the Income Guidelines, if all under-income children are already being served. 

For categorical eligibility, families must prove that a child is homeless or in foster care.  Written statements from public or private agencies, notes from an interview, or the parent's declaration may be used to show homelessness, along with the signed Statement of Reasonable Effort form.  Foster children are placed by a state agency which has responsibility.

Parents must furnish, as proof of annual income, one of the following: Income Tax Form 1040 or 1040A, W-2 forms from every source of income, pay stubs with year-to-date total, or written statements from employers. Homeless families who do not have documents can be enrolled immediately.  If parents have only check stubs, the FSC may use the Income Chart and the check stubs to compute the family's income for the entire year, based on the parent's declaration.  If the parents have neither check stubs or tax statements, the FSC may, if the parents sign a Release of Information form, contact third parties who can verify eligibility, eg. employers, government agency employees, supervisors.  FSC's use the Income Chart in addition to written third-party verification.  Parents always must sign the Income Chart, declaring that all information is true.  For families who could not show documentation, program staff must fill out and sign the Statement of Reasonable Effort form, briefly describing the family's situation and how they attempted to verify eligibility. Parents who intentionally provide false information will not be enrolled, or will be dropped from the program.

Employees who determine eligibility, delegate boards and Policy Committees must receive training on Federal regulations and MSHS policies and procedures before program opening, or within 5 days of hiring.  Delegates retain all eligibility document in files for the duration of the family's enrollment plus 1 year.  Staff enrolls families through a personal interview, and collects copies of all eligibility documents.  Employees who intentionally violate Federal and program eligibility determination regulations by enrolling ineligible children will be dismissed.

"Family", by federal definition, means all persons living in the same household who are supported by the income of the parents or guardian of the child enrolling or participating in the program, and related to the parents or guardian by blood, marriage, or adoption. The period of time to be considered for eligibility is the twelve (12) months immediately preceding the month in which application or re-application for enrollment of a child is made, or for the calendar year immediately preceding the calendar year in which the application is made, whichever more accurately reflects the current status. If a child has been found eligible and is participating in a Head Start program, the child remains eligible through that enrollment year, and the immediately succeeding enrollment year.

Families must verify that their primary income is from agricultural work that involves the production and harvesting of tree and field crops. Migrant families are those who demonstrate that they changed their place of residence at least once within the last twenty-four consecutive months. Seasonal families are those who demonstrate they are engaged primarily in seasonal agricultural labor and who have not changed their residence in the preceding two-year period. Proof of current agricultural work may be any of the following: pay-check stubs, written statements from employers or crew-leaders, or IMHSP Employment and Income Verification Forms. Eligible work includes: harvesting or processing vegetables and fruit, de-tassling and harvesting seed-corn, tree-nursery work, growing and harvesting sod and flowers. Not eligible are landscaping, any work with animals or animal by-products, and grounds-keeping.

Children are eligible from age six weeks to six years (or until they have been eligible to attend kindergarten).


Delegate agencies complete a community assessment or update every fall, following IMSHS procedures, and gather new information every spring.

Delegate directors hold one inter-agency meeting during the season, and maintain ties with community service-providers throughout the year.

Prior to opening and during the season, delegate directors advertise the program throughout the recruitment area by: distributing posters and flyers, especially in locations frequented by migrant workers, making public-service announcements on television and radio, and in local newspapers. Staff circulates program brochures at community events. All recruitment materials include a statement of the program's ability to serve children with a disability, including those with a severe disability.

Delegate staff actively canvass the full recruitment area by talking to all growers, driving to migrant housing (scattered or camps), investigating all referrals from families, public and private agencies, and other sources.

The grantee conducts or updates a Community Assessment each fall before families leave and growers close operations. Through the winter, and in the spring, the grantee continues to collect information about the coming work season by contacting labor-contractors, employers, and other service providers. If necessary, grantee staff goes to areas of the state to investigate reports of migrant workers in regions which are outside delegate recruitment areas.


Until the classrooms are filled, children will be enrolled in this order of priority:

  1. Homeless migrant children
  2. Migrant foster children 
  3. Migrant children with suspected or diagnosed disabilities and their siblings
  4. Migrant children without disabilities from families up to 100% federal income guidelines
    1. Children with single parents
    2. Children with 2 parents, both working
    3. Children with 2 parents, one working
  5. Migrant children from families up to 130% income guidelines, by amount of annual income
    1. Children with single parents
    2. Children with 2 parents, both working
    3. Children with 2 parents, one working
  6. Over-income migrant children
    1. Children with single parents
    2. Children with 2 parents, both working
    3. Children with 2 parents, one working
  7. Homeless seasonal children
  8. Seasonal foster children
  9. Seasonal children with suspected or diagnosed disabilities and their siblings
  10. Seasonal children without disabilities from families up to 100% of the federal income guidelines
    1. Children with single parents
    2. Children with 2 parents, both working
    3. Children with 2 parents, one working
  11. Seasonal children from families with up to 130% of income guidelines, by amount of annual income
    1. Children with single parents
    2. Children with 2 parents, both working
    3. Children with 2 parents, one working
  12. Over-income seasonal children
    1. Children with 1 parent
    2. Children with 2 parents, both working
    3. Children with 2 parents, one working.

Policy Council has approved these criteria on October 26, 2015. Delegate Policy Committees must consult the Policy Council before changing the priorities.

If the delegate or partner director expects classrooms to be filled, he or she must wait for a period of up to two weeks time for migrant families to arrive in the area before allowing seasonal children to fill enrollment slots.  They should wait the same period to ensure that, at least at the beginning of the program, over-income slots are not needed for children with disabilities. Over-income families should be placed on the waiting list at least until the two-week period has passed, in order to enroll the lowest-income first.

Before a delegate or partnership agency enrolls over-income children, it must ensure and demonstrate that it has enrolled all eligible, under-income children in the recruitment area, and have written approval from the grantee office.  Only 10% of all children, regardless of priority, may be over income. 


The delegate family services coordinator explains and fills out all registration forms with the parents, and reviews documents that verify eligibility. That same day or the following morning, he or she turns over the enrollment files to the delegate director.

Within 24 hours, the delegate director compares registration papers to eligibility requirements and the waiting list criteria, and assigns a priority number to each family. (If there is a question of eligibility, the director consults the grantee manager for technical assistance.) Immediately he or she passes the files back to the family services coordinator. 

If the classrooms are filled, the director places the child's name of the waiting list, to be enrolled following the stated criteria.

The family services coordinator immediately informs the parents of their enrollment status. He or she visits the family again to welcome them to the program, to explain policies and procedures, and to stimulate parents' interest in the program. The coordinator passes out Parent Handbooks, DCFS pamphlets, IMSHSP parent-complaint procedures, bus schedule and center hours, and invitation to the first Parent Committee meeting.

The family services coordinator distributes to other center coordinators the information and completed forms which they need.


At the time of enrollment, the family services coordinator discusses with the parents the importance of children's regular attendance.

Delegate programs designate a staff person to record children's absences. If teachers have been advised of the reason for a child's absence, they will inform the designated person.

If the reason for a child's absence is unknown, at the end of the third day the family services coordinator calls or visits the family to learn the reason the child has been absent, and whether the family needs any help.

The following day, the family services coordinator passes on to the director the following information: child's name, time of the call or home-visit, reason for the child's absence, name of the person the coordinator talked to, assistance or follow-up needed.

The director determines whether the information should be discussed at the bi-weekly staffing, or

if other follow-up is needed.