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This paper looks at the relationship between the non--‐federal match requirement for Head Start Programs and program operations with regard to parent engagement. It argues that the purpose of non--‐federal match is perceived differently depending on the position of the person asked, and an exploratory case study is conducted to identify these differences. Non--‐federal match requirements are compared to practices of capturing this match from parent engagement at a local Head Start program and managers are interviewed from the site, program and federal level. The purpose of the non--‐federal match requirement, its burden on program operations, and the relationship of the requirement to parent engagement are all shown to vary depending on one’s position in Head Start. Recommendations are made for better capturing non--‐federal match at the local level and for conducting a more comprehensive study of the issues raised at a national level.

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