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Machete Found in Children's Play Area at Head Start Center

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A recent report should gives mom nightmares for months. A federal government review of several of the nation's Head Start centers revealed horrific conditions, including machetes lying in children's play areas, protruding screws from bookshelves, expired formula in fridges, and a children's bathroom that went without lighting for months. The Inspector General recently compiled findings from 24 audits of 175 Head Start grantees running centers 7 states between May 2009 and October 2010.

Head Start was originally developed under President Lyndon Johnson to provide early-education programs for low-income children. Under Johnson's "War on Poverty", the federal government began to fund grants for public, non-profit, and for-profit centers to provide these services. But the new findings reveal serious concerns about the safety of children engaged with Head Start centers across the country.

Overall, the Inspector General's review highlighted several other issues. For example, 21 out of the 24 grantees did not conduct criminal or other background checks; 90% of the facilities had hazardous chemicals open and in the reach of children; 70% had broken or open fences that led to parking lots, streets, or other unsupervised areas; more than 50% had broken playground equipment with protruding bolts, broken climbing apparatuses, or elevated platforms without protective guards. The Obama Administration has cited problems with Head Start programs and announced new rules that require any non-compliant Head Start grantee to compete for funding if they continue to be in violation. Funding for 3 of the 24 Head Start grantees has already been revoked and others claim to be rectifying their violations.