Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Conference report filed in House (10/06/1998)


Title I: Head Start Programs

Title II: Community Services Block Grant Program

Title III: Low-Income Home Energy Assistance

Title IV: Assets for Independence

Community Opportunities, Accountability, and Training and Educational Services Act of 1998 or Coats Human Services Reauthorization Act of 1998 - Title I: Head Start Programs - Head Start Amendments of 1998 - Amends the Head Start Act to reauthorize and revise its programs.

(Sec. 102) Revises the statement of purpose to promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of low-income children.

(Sec. 103) Revises definitions of family literacy services, of full-working-day, and of migrant or seasonal Head Start program. Adds definitions of child with a disability and of reliable and replicable research.

(Sec. 104) Provides for financial assistance to Head Start programs that enable children to attain school readiness (as well as to attain their full potential).

(Sec. 105) Extends through FY 2003 the authorization of appropriations for Head Start program activities. Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make available certain amounts for such program activities, transition activities, impact studies, and other research, demonstration and evaluation activities.

(Sec. 106) Revises requirements for allotment of funds.

Requires that each State initially receive an amount of Head Start funds equal to the amount received in FY 1998.

Extends Head Start program eligibility for the Freely Associated States (the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau) through FY 2001 (or FY 2002, if legislation implementing the Compact of Free Association has not been enacted before the end of FY 2001). Terminates such eligibility after FY 2002.

Directs the Secretary to use a specified minimum portion of technical assistance funds to assist Head Start grantees currently providing family literacy services to: (1) improve such services; and (2) serve as family literacy resources to other grantees and service providers who wish to implement family literacy programs.

Allows set-aside funds to be used for: (1) activities related to correcting deficiencies and conducting proceedings to terminate the designation of Head Start agencies; and (2) research and evaluation.

Revises funding for Indian and migrant and seasonal Head Start programs. Directs the Secretary to: (1) continue the administrative arrangement for meeting the needs of migrant and Indian children; and (2) assure that appropriate funds are provided to meet the needs of such children.

Revises requirements relating to use of quality improvement funds for: (1) children with disabilities; (2) encouraging staff training; and (3) staff training related to promoting language skills and literacy growth of children and the acquisition of English by children from non-English-speaking backgrounds, fostering school readiness skills, and addressing children's problems, including dysfunction, violence, and substance abuse in their families and communities.

Revises various requirements for collaboration grants. Directs the Secretary to provide supplemental funding to: (1) States that develop unified plans for early childhood education and child care that include participation of Head Start agencies; and (2) States that engage in other innovative collaborations. Requires the Secretary to: (1) review barriers to collaboration; (2) develop initiatives to eliminate such barriers; and (3) develop a mechanism to resolve conflicts between programs.

Increases the amount of funds set-aside for Early Head Start. Authorizes the Secretary to reduce these amounts, if necessary to avoid a reduction in Head Start services or quality, subject to certain conditions.

Revises requirements relating to enrollment of children with disabilities.

Directs the Secretary to consider specified factors concerning applicants in awarding expansion funds.

Revises requirements for migrant and seasonal Head Start programs.

(Sec. 107) Revises requirements relating to designation of Head Start agencies. Allows designation of for-profit organizations. Directs the Secretary, in making such designations, to: (1) consult with the State Governor; (2) give priority to existing Head Start grantees or their successors, unless the agency has failed to meet certain requirements; (3) give priority to Head Start agencies that have met or exceeded performance standards and performance measures; (4) require agencies to offer substance abuse counseling to parents of participating children, including information on drug-exposed infants and fetal alcohol syndrome; and (5) consider an applicant's plan to seek parent involvement and meet the needs of non-English background children and children with disabilities. Directs the Secretary to designate an interim Head Start grantee until a qualified applicant from the community is designated.

(Sec. 108) Requires education performance standards to ensure children's school readiness and development of a minimum level of literacy and numeracy awareness and understanding.

Requires performance measures to assess the impact of the services provided to children and their families.

Revises monitoring provisions to require: (1) review teams to include individuals knowledgeable about the needs of children with disabilities; (2) reviews to include a review and assessment of program effectiveness in accordance with outcome-based performance measures and performance standards; and (3) seeking out information from the community and the State on the program's performance and its collaboration with other entities in carrying out early childhood education and child care programs in the community.

Requires Head Start agencies to: (1) immediately correct any identified deficiencies that threaten health, safety, or the integrity of Federal funds; (2) correct a deficiency within 90 days of being informed, if the Secretary determines that a 90-day deadline is reasonable; and (3) develop and obtain approval for a quality improvement plan, if required by the Secretary.

(Sec. 109) Revises powers and functions of Head Start agencies.

(Sec. 110) Revises Head Start transition provisions to require each Head Start agency to coordinate with the local education agency and schools in which participating Head Start children will enroll.

(Sec. 111) Allows State Governors 45 days in which to disapprove any plan to carry out a Head Start program within the State through contract, agreement, grant, or other assistance. Prohibits the Secretary from overruling a Governor's disapproval for failure to comply with State health, safety and child care laws and regulations applicable to comparable programs within the State.

(Sec. 112) Revises requirements for participation in Head Start regarding: (1) continuing eligibility of children who have participated in the Head Start program and whose families have met the low-income criteria; (2) use of a sliding fee scale for extended day services in full-day programs that operate through collaborations with other agencies or entities; (3) continuous recruitment and acceptance of applications for Head Start throughout the year; and (4) off-reservation areas.

(Sec. 113) Revises requirements for Early Head Start programs for families with infants and toddlers, including infants and toddlers with disabilities. Limits eligibility to pregnant women and families with children under age three.

(Sec. 114) Provides for certain technical assistance and training with respect to collaborative efforts toward full-day, full-year Head Start services, early childhood education, child care, and family literacy services.

(Sec. 115) Directs the Secretary to ensure, by the end of FY 2003, that at least 50 percent of all Head Start teachers nationwide in center-based programs have an associate, baccalaureate, or an advanced degree in: (1) early childhood education; or (2) a field related to early childhood education, with experience in teaching preschool children. Requires Head Start agencies to demonstrate continuing progress each year to reach that result. Requires, in the remaining balance of such classrooms, that there be assigned one teacher who has: (1) a child development associate (CDA) credential appropriate to the age of the children being served in center-based programs; (2) a State-awarded certificate for preschool teachers that meets or exceeds the requirements for a CDA credential; or (3) a degree in a field related to early childhood education with experience in teaching preschool children and a State-awarded certificate to teach in a preschool program. Directs the Secretary to grant a 180-day waiver of degree requirements for Head Start teachers, upon request, if the Head Start agency has had no success in recruiting an individual with the required credential, certificate, or degree.

(Sec. 116) Requires research and evaluation studies and reports on the following: (1) models for integrating family literacy services with Head Start programs; (2) comparisons of children participating in Head Start with eligible children who did not participate; (3) national Head Start impact; and (4) use of quality improvement funds.

(Sec. 117) Directs the Secretary to report at least once every five years to specified congressional committees on the condition, location, and ownership of facilities used, or available to be used, by Indian Head Start agencies (including Native Alaskan Head Start agencies) and Native Hawaiian Head Start agencies.

(Sec. 119) Repeals the Head Start Transition Project Act.

Title II: Community Services Block Grant Program - Amends the Community Services Block Grant Act (CSBGA) to reauthorize and revise its programs.

(Sec. 201) Extends through FY 2003 the authorization of appropriations for community services block grants.

Revises or adds provisions relating to: (1) program authorization; (2) apportionment of funds to territories; (3) allotment and payment of funds to States; (4) use of funds by States for grants to eligible entities; (5) State applications and plans; (6) designation and redesignation by States of eligible entities in unserved areas; (7) tripartite boards for eligible entities; (8) direct payment of funds by the Secretary to Indian tribes and tribal organizations; (9) the Secretary's carrying out of certain functions through the Office of Community Services, and through grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements; (10) the Secretary's use of set-aside funds for training, technical assistance, planning, evaluation, and data collection activities; (11) State monitoring of eligible entities to determine whether they meet performance goals, administrative standards, financial management requirements, and other State requirements; (12) corrective action, termination and reduction of funding, in cases where a State determines that an eligible entity materially fails to comply with the terms of an agreement or the State plan, or to meet appropriate standards, goals, and other State requirements; (13) fiscal controls, audits, and withholding of Federal funds; (14) Federal and State accountability and reporting on the performance of eligible entities; (15) limitations on the use of funds; (16) participation of faith-based organizations in programs under the Act; and (17) the Secretary's use of set-aside funds for discretionary activities involving community economic development, rural community development, and neighborhood innovation projects.

Allows State drug testing of participants in programs, activities and services under CSBGA. Requires eligible entities to make certain paternity determinations.

Authorizes the Secretary to make grants for: (1) community food and nutrition programs; and (2) national or regional programs designed to provide instructional activities for low-income youth. Authorizes appropriations.

Title III: Low-Income Home Energy Assistance - Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Amendments of 1998 - Amends the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981 to reauthorize and revise its programs.

(Sec. 302) Extends through FY 2004 the authorization of appropriations for: (1) low-income home energy assistance programs (LIHEAP) in general; and (2) the incentive program for leveraging non- Federal resources. (Reduces the authorized amount for the incentive program except in fiscal years when appropriations for the general program reach a specified minimum level.)

(Sec. 304) Provides for release of LIHEAP funds in response to emergencies, including a natural disaster, any other event meeting criteria the Secretary determines appropriate, or a significant increase in: (1) home energy supply shortages or disruptions; (2) the cost of home energy; (3) home energy disconnections; (4) participation in a public benefit program such as the food stamp program; or (5) a significant increase in unemployment or layoffs.

(Sec. 305) Removes the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands from LIHEAP.

(Sec. 306) Specifies that residential weatherization or other energy-related home repair for low-income households is particularly for those with the lowest incomes that pay a high proportion of household income for home energy.

(Sec. 307) Prohibits certain transfers out of LIHEAP.

(Sec. 308) Directs the Comptroller General to evaluate and report to the Congress on the Residential Energy Assistance Challenge program.

(Sec. 309) Increases the amount of funds available for technical assistance, training, and compliance reviews. Authorizes the Secretary to use such funds for: (1) onsite program reviews; and (2) interagency agreements, including agreements with Federal agencies.

Title IV: Assets for Independence - Assets for Independence Act - Provides for the establishment of individual development account (IDA) demonstration projects designed to determine: (1) the social, civic, psychological, and economic effects of providing to individuals and families with limited means an incentive to accumulate assets by saving a portion of their earned income in an individual development account; (2) the extent to which an asset-based policy that promotes saving for education, home ownership, and microenterprise development may be used to enable individuals and families with limited means to increase their economic self-sufficiency; and (3) the extent to which an asset-based policy stabilizes and improves families and the community in which they live.

(Sec. 404) Limits the use of IDA distributions to specified postsecondary educational, first-home purchase, and business capitalization expenses, as well as transfers to IDAs of family members.

(Sec. 405) Allows not-for-profit organizations, State or local government agencies, and tribal governments to apply to the Secretary of HHS for grants for such demonstration projects.

Directs the Secretary to publicly announce funding for such projects and make applications widely available to qualified entities.

(Sec. 406) Directs the Secretary to make annual project grants for five-year projects to entities with approved applications. Limits the amount of such a grant to any qualified entity in a single year to the lesser of $1 million or an amount equal to the amount of non-Federal matching funds.

(Sec. 407) Requires each qualified not-for-profit organization receiving a grant to establish a reserve fund for deposit of private and public funds provided for the demonstration project, as well as proceeds from investments.

(Sec. 408) Makes an individual eligible for assistance under a demonstration project if the individual is a member of a household that: (1) is eligible for assistance under part A (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) (TANF) of title IV of the Social Security Act; or (2) meets certain income and net worth tests.

(Sec. 409) Provides for selection of individuals to participate in the demonstration project by the qualified entity.

(Sec. 410) Allows IDAs, to which qualified individuals may contribute, to be matched from grant funds by the qualified entity conducting the demonstration project, according to a certain formula, in an amount up to $2,000 per individual ($4,000 per household).

(Sec. 411) Provides for local control over such demonstration projects.

(Sec. 412) Requires annual progress reports by qualified entities.

(Sec. 413) Directs the Secretary to terminate a demonstration project upon determination of noncompliance with requirements and failure to implement corrective recommendations.

(Sec. 414) Directs the Secretary to: (1) contract with an independent research organization to evaluate the demonstration projects; and (2) submit interim and final reports to the Congress.

(Sec. 416) Authorizes appropriations.