For Applicants Submitting an Application to Implement a Head Start and/or Early Head Start Program
Applicants seeking funding for both Head Start and Early Head Start programs should describe in their application how the model of joint operation of Head Start and Early Head Start will be conducted in the community, as well as how the entity will manage both sets of services.
1. Demonstration of Need for Child Development and Health Services: Location, Population, and Service Delivery Options
Applicants must describe the precise geographic locations(s) and boundaries of the areas to be served (as described in Section I. Program Description). Provide data about why that geographic area is in high need of early childhood education and family support services. Data must include the number of eligible pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and/or preschoolers by geographic location; the number of families in extreme poverty; jobless rates; incidence of community health problems; or other similar factors. Provide a description of information regarding the availability and access to early childhood education services for low-income infants, toddlers, or preschoolers in the proposed geographic area.
Clearly justify how the needs of the community are best served by their proposed approach, including a rationale for which ages of children the applicant proposes to serve in its program. Justify the program option(s) proposed for each age group to be served as the most appropriate to meet the needs of the community, as outlined in 45 CFR § 1302.20, including how many pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and/or preschoolers will be served; and the number of hours per day, days per week, and weeks per year proposed.
- Applicants proposing to serve in multiple communities must specify the number of program participants to be served in each community.
- Applicants proposing the home-based option must include the proposed number of home visits and socializations for each age group(s) to be served.
- Applicants proposing the use of double sessions as a program option for Head Start (45 CFR § 1302.21; § 1305.2, Double Session Variation definition), which is discouraged, must justify why it is the best option to meet the demonstrated need in the community.
Describe how the proposed program will ensure that not less than 10 percent of the total number of children enrolled will be children with disabilities. Describe how the proposed program will partner with other programs or services in the community to best meet the needs of low-income families to be served, with evidence of community engagement and community partnerships in the geographic location(s) to improve service delivery, increase access to services, and prevent duplication.
If proposing delegate agencies, describe how those delegate agencies were chosen, and how the grantee's oversight will ensure the delegate agencies implement high-quality programs that adhere to the requirements outlined in 45 CFR 1303 Subpart D. Applicants must also identify the communities in which the delegate agency will operate, and the number of children to be served including the proposed program option(s).
2. Achieving Early Learning and Development Outcomes to Promote School Readiness for Children
Applicants must demonstrate the capacity to implement and sustain the high-quality, comprehensive, individualized educational, health, mental health, nutritional, oral health, and other social services to pregnant women, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families that prepare children to succeed in school. Describe how the program will implement program components and, where applicable, describe separately for infants and toddlers and for preschoolers.
Name the curriculum or set of curricula that will be used, describe why that curriculum/curricula was selected, and present the evidence basis that the curriculum/curricula effectively promotes progress toward school readiness (for preschoolers) or its developmental foundations (for infants and toddlers). Provide evidence supporting how the curriculum is tied to outcomes for children and that meet the requirements discussed in 45 CFR § 1302.30.
Applicants must describe a process for establishing and measuring school readiness goals (45 CFR § 1302.102) that reflect the ages of children proposed to be served, and demonstrate these goals are culturally and linguistically appropriate.
- Applicants proposing an Early Head Start program: must explain the extent to which goals were or will be established in alignment with state early learning guidelines, as appropriate.
- Applicants proposing a Head Start program: must explain the extent to which goals align with the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework, state early learning guidelines, and describe the requirements and expectations of schools the children will attend after Head Start.
Describe how service effectiveness and quality will be measured, monitored, and improved upon over time. Applicants must specify the name and process for selection of their assessment tool. The assessment must be developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate. Describe the plan to use child assessment data for individualization and referral; and for aggregation and analysis. Describe how that analysis will be used in combination with other program data to determine grantees' progress toward meeting its goals.
Applicants also must include information about how they will meet the health, oral health, mental health, and nutrition needs for pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and/or preschoolers. This includes a description of the system for health screening and services that will ensure participants are accurately referred for necessary follow-up evaluation and treatment within time frames specified by 45 CFR § 1302.33.
Provide a plan describing how the applicant will integrate parent and family engagement strategies into all systems and program services to promote children’s learning and development, as discussed in 45 CFR § 1302.34 and 1302.50-52.
Describe how the proposed program will meet the unique needs of special populations, including children with disabilities, dual language learners, children and pregnant women experiencing homelessness, working families, and children in foster care. Applicants must explain their procedures to identify such participants, plans to provide trained personnel, and plans to provide services to assist children in making meaningful progress in attaining age-appropriate knowledge, skills, abilities, and development.
In addition, applicants must propose the coordination of services within a community that support transitions for children and families.
For applicants proposing an Early Head Start program: Applicants must describe how they will deliver services to enrolled pregnant women post-pregnancy, and how the newborn infant and family will transition into the appropriate program option. They must also describe how the program will support transitions within the Head Start and/or Early Head Start program. Lastly, applicants must describe how they will ensure that infants, toddlers, and their families participating in the program will have the opportunity to receive Head Start or other appropriate preschool services for which they are eligible through the age of mandatory school attendance.
Finally, applicants must describe its plan to coordinate with public and private entities that are willing to commit resources to assist the program in providing high-quality child health and developmental services. Such partnerships must include a plan to coordinate with other child care and preschool programs, state pre-Kindergarten programs, programs under Part C and Section 619 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and with the educational programs that children will enter upon leaving Early Head Start or Head Start.
3. Past Performance
Applicants must provide evidence of organizational experience (including the experience of key leaders in the organization such as the executive director, program director, and managers) that supports its ability to implement the proposed program. They must also discuss a history of providing effective financial management in operating programs of similar scope and complexity.
They must describe how their past experience in early education (or related fields) and in communities similar to the targeted community will enable them to operate a Head Start and/or Early Head Start program. This may include evidence of the quality of the early education programs or related programs it has operated in the past such as licensing history, accreditation, ratings, or independent evaluations of programs, or outcome data for children.
Applicants must also describe the past performance of organizations with which it proposes to delegate all or part of their services.
Explain the ways (if any) in which past experience – or that of any proposed delegate agencies – differs from operating a Head Start and/or Early Head Start program. Discuss how it will address these differences and succeed in providing high-quality, comprehensive services.
Current or former Head Start or Early Head Start grantees must include a description of any violations, such as deficiencies, areas of non-compliance, and/or audit findings. Applicants may describe the actions they have taken to address any violations. Additionally, applicants that serve or have served as delegate agencies to Head Start and Early Head Start grantees must provide documentation of their past performance.
4. Staffing and Supporting a Strong Early Learning Workforce
Applicants must describe the qualifications of its proposed staff, including their experience in providing child development services in accordance with 45 CFR § 1302.91. This includes a description of key program staff's major functions and responsibilities. Also describe the management staff's knowledge of the requirements of the proposed program, and how it will ensure that all program staff members understand how those standards are applicable to them. If proposing a Head Start and Early Head Start program, describe the plan to include staff with infant/toddler as well as preschool expertise in decision-making roles.
Applicants must describe how it will attract and retain qualified staff, including through salary and benefits, with the ability to implement a research-based curriculum; effective instructional strategies; and a high-quality, comprehensive program. Describe the strategies and mechanisms to support staff; and a plan to assess staff performance including under-performing staff. Applicants must also describe how they will provide career development opportunities for professional, paraprofessional, and other staff (45 CFR § 1302.91).
Additionally, applications must describe a plan to evaluate job applicants, including existing grantee staff, to determine which applicants are most capable of implementing a high-quality, comprehensive program.
The narrative must also address: (1) how the applicant will facilitate strong staff-child relationships that support the development of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers; (2) a plan to ensure that staff are prepared for and supported in implementing evidence-based instructional practices that are individualized to support positive child outcomes; and (3) how all staff will successfully partner with families in supporting children's development.
If proposing center-based or family child care services, describe the plan for observing teacher practice, including teacher-child interactions. If proposing home-based services, describe the plan for observing home visitor practice, including interactions with the family and child, and supporting the parents in their role as the child’s primary caregiver/teacher. For all program services, discuss using this information to inform professional development and practice improvements. Include the name of any instruments to be used.
5. Planning and Implementation
Successful applicants will be expected to begin providing services quickly after award, with a minimal start-up period, to support limited to no disruption in program services. Therefore an implementation plan and timeline, including transition period planning, must be included that at a minimum addresses the following:
- State and local licensing requirements for each proposed age group, the length of time required to obtain licensure for early childhood learning environments, and the impact on the proposed implementation plan.
- The availability of appropriate facilities for proposed program model(s), and the anticipated timelines for completing any construction, renovation, or adaptation of space to meet requirements.
- As applicable, plans for alternative service provision (e.g., temporary home-based services) during start-up, until facilities are fully operational.
- Where facilities are not available, a plan to acquire facilities in accordance with 45 CFR § 1303.42.
- The ability to recruit, hire and train qualified staff to support the proposed start of Head Start and/or Early Head Start programming.
6. Organizational Capacity and Governance
Applicants must demonstrate their ability to oversee operations that comply with applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. The application must describe the capacity of senior executive managers (for example, Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer) and governing body to:
- exercise effective oversight of program operations and accountability for federal funds;
- set and monitor overall agency priorities and operational systems;
- develop and implement systems for communication, record-keeping, reporting, and ongoing monitoring, and;
- conduct community assessment, annual self-assessments, and outcome-based evaluations.
Applicants must document their plan to constitute and train a governing body that is in compliance with the program governance requirements established in Section 642(c) of the Head Start Act. Applicants must also demonstrate their capacity to effectively implement a system of governance that includes the Policy Council and parents in decision making. If applicable, applicants should provide information about how its current governance structure would change (if at all) to meet the Head Start Program Performance Standards.
Please see 7. Budget and Budget Justification, under The Project Budget and Budget Justification in this sectionfor additional program-specific requirements that will be evaluated in the application review process.
FEDERAL FINANCIAL REVIEW
The financial review is conducted to assess the grantee’s financial capability based on information provided in the application package, including the most recent audit conducted under 45 CFR Part 75 – Subpart F. All applicants must include their most recent annual independent audit meeting the requirements of 45 CFR Part 75 – Subpart F, including financial statements, related notes to the financial statements, and the schedule of findings and questioned costs required by 45 CFR §75.507(b)(4)(iv) noting whether or not the applicant qualifies as a low risk auditee.