Two unexpected gifts from the Office of Head Start – The gift of time and flexibility, but what does this mean?by Andrea Abbott on 02/01/18
Our thoughts on the delay of the Round 6 FOA
The most recent round of recompetition was slated to post on January 17th. However, as of this posting the application has not been released. There are several reasons that an application can be delayed and it happens in almost every round of recompetition at least once. For example, in round six, the new Head Start Program Performance Standards are likely to be incorporated into the new funding opportunity announcement and the grant evaluation criteria. As a result, the Office of Head Start has to train grant reviewers on how to evaluate applicant responses to the new criteria, as well as revise the application instructions. Another cause for a lack of application posting is lack of resources within the Office of Head Start to complete the grant review process. For example, grant reviewers are compensated for reviewing each application and the budget impasse may impact the ability for funds to be released for this task. Regardless, we have been given the gift of time. Use the extra time for the following tasks and you are sure to strengthen your proposal:
1. Gather anecdotal data to justify any program changes you would like to make in your application. For example, if you are proposing to convert slots to EHS survey your program families to see how many families have children eligible for EHS and note in your application the number of families that you will have enrolled immediately upon funding.
2. Update your school readiness plan and progress you have made in meeting family and program outcomes.
3. Update your grants.gov registration and watch the Workspace Webinar to ensure that you understand the submission process and how to upload your documents into the grants.gov system.
4. Review your policies to address the new program performance standards on expulsion and suspension, ERSEA training, attendance, and other issues as they are certain to show up in the new grant application criteria.
Like many programs, Heartland monitors Round 6 grant forecast every day. However, one little known grant secret is that FOAs are typically released on a Tuesday or Thursday in the Federal Register. So, if you are checking weekly, Tuesday is your best chance of catching it right out of the gate. We will keep you posted!
What about duration? Calling attention to the elephant in the room.
Last week, OHS disseminated a notice that programs would no longer be required to comply with the duration requirement by August, 2019. The Program Instruction indicates that the reason for the change was that OHS prefers to serve more children and families for less time, than to serve fewer children for more time. While this may be true, the desire to serve more children may signal that there is a proposed cut on the horizon for Head Start. Historically, when programs anticipate a challenge to their legitimacy, the last thing that administrators want is evidence there is a reduced need for services. With most duration conversions resulting in less children served, opponents to the Head Start program can make the case that Head Start is overserving children and for a reduction in funding. It is important to track this development and the discussions that are gearing up around Head Start for the next fiscal year.