Program Background and Purpose
The EHS program is administered by ACF, an operating division of HHS. ACF intends to fund applications that demonstrate an organization's commitment and capacity to operate an EHS program that raises the quality of early care and education in the community and helps children start school ready to succeed.
The Head Start and EHS programs provide grants to public and private non-profit and for-profit agencies to provide comprehensive child development services to predominately economically disadvantaged children and families. Head Start's primary purpose is to prepare children to be ready for school and ensure their healthy development. In fiscal year (FY) 1995, the EHS program was established to serve pregnant women and children from birth to 3 years of age in recognition of the mounting evidence that the earliest years matter a great deal to children's growth and development. Since its beginning in 1965, Head Start has served more than 35 million children and their families. In FY 2019, Head Start served 1,047,000 children and families; of these, nearly 259,000 participants were served in EHS programs. Currently there are approximately 1,600 Head Start grantees, including approximately 1,100 grantees providing EHS program services for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women.
Head Start and EHS programs must provide directly or through referral, early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services that will enhance the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of participating children in the key domains of physical development and health; social and emotional development; approaches to learning, language, and literacy; and cognition and general knowledge. Programs support parent engagement in their roles as their children’s teachers and advocates, and help parents move toward self-sufficiency.
Head Start and EHS programs emphasize family engagement because of the critical role that parents play in supporting their children's healthy development and school success. Effective programs engage parents in their children's development and learning. Programs also emphasize the significant involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start and EHS programs. These leadership opportunities are designed to strengthen skills that parents can apply to improve their family's economic well-being and to become more effective advocates for their children.
Overview of the Child Care and Development Fund
CCDF is the primary federal program devoted to providing families with child care subsidies and supporting states, territories, and tribes in improving the quality of child care programs. CCDF is administered by ACF's Office of Child Care (OCC), which provides funding, oversight, and technical assistance to states, territories, and tribes that administer the program. CCDF provides child care assistance to 1.3 million children monthly, approximately 370,000 of whom are infants and toddlers. Annual federal CCDF funding is approximately $8.7 billion. State funding and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) transfers provide additional funding. In 2014, the program was reauthorized on a bipartisan basis, and this reauthorization included a number of important reforms to the program. For example, the reauthorized Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act phases in an increase in the minimum amount of funds that must be used to improve the quality of child care and other additional services to parents, such as resources and referral counseling regarding the selection of child care providers, to nine percent. In addition, the law requires states to spend a minimum of three percent to improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers.
CCDF grantees (i.e., states, territories, and tribes) have flexibility in many areas that can help support partnerships. For example, within certain federal parameters, CCDF grantees set income eligibility rules that can be aligned with EHS (the CCDF threshold must be below 85 percent of state median income) and set policy on how often to re-determine a family’s subsidy eligibility (the frequency can be no less than 12 months). Most families who receive child care assistance through CCDF are required to pay a co-payment, which CCDF grantees can waive for families below poverty, such as families eligible for EHS. CCDF grantees may also waive family co-payments for children who receive or need to receive protective services, or that meet other criteria established by the CCDF grantee. While the majority of CCDF services are funded through certificates/vouchers linked to individual eligible children, CCDF grantees also have the option of awarding grants and contracts to provide a stable source of funding for child care programs. Regardless of the funding mechanism (whether vouchers, grants, or contracts), child care subsidies used in combination with the EHS-CC Partnership funding provided under this FOA will allow grantees to improve the quality of environments and services for a greater number of low-income children.
Child care is provided through a broad array of public, private, for-profit, and not-for-profit programs and providers. In the United States, there are approximately 110,000 licensed child care centers and approximately 120,000 licensed family and group child care homes.
Family child care is an important part of the child care system, especially for infants and toddlers who are more likely to be cared for in home-based settings compared to older children. In addition, family child care is an important child care option for children whose parents work non-standard work hours or schedules, and it is particularly important in many rural areas where there are few child care centers.
Head Start Program Performance Standards
In addition to the Head Start Act, 42 U.S.C. § 9831 et seq., Head Start is governed by the Head Start Program Performance Standards (HSPPS) that define the scope of services necessary to support children's development and school readiness. These program performance standards are found in 45 CFR Parts 1301-1305 https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/policy/45-cfr-chap-xiii. The HSPPS are the foundation on which programs design and deliver comprehensive, high-quality, individualized services to support the school readiness of children from low-income families. The standards set forth the requirements local grantees must meet to support the cognitive, social, emotional, and healthy development of children from birth to age 5. They encompass requirements to provide education, health, mental health, nutrition, and family and community engagement services as well as rules for local program governance and aspects of federal administration of the program.
Funded grantees proposing facility purchase, construction, or renovation will be required to meet the requirements in 45 CFR Part 1303 Subpart E – Facilities. This subpart prescribes what a grantee must establish to show it is eligible to purchase, construct, and renovate facilities as outlined in section 644(c), (f), and (g) of the Act. It explains how a grantee may apply for funds; details what measures a grantee must take to protect federal interest in facilities purchased, constructed, or renovated with grant funds; and concludes with other administrative provisions. This subpart applies to facility purchase, construction, and major renovations. It only applies to minor renovations and repairs when they are included with a purchase application and are part of purchase costs.
All grantees funded through this FOA must provide high-quality, comprehensive services. HHS has a goal of ensuring that funding available under this announcement supports robust competition for both non-partnership EHS Expansion and EHS-CC Partnership models.
Based on the strategic plan and community assessment, applicants will propose an approach that responds to the greatest needs of families in the community, including the need for increased access to full-time, stable, high-quality, comprehensive child development services for working families. Having high-quality infant and toddler care is particularly important, and often is lacking, in areas with high concentrations of poverty.
All applicants should consider the birth-to-five continuum of care and education in developing their proposals. Grantees are expected to leverage resources from existing community agencies that provide early learning services – including early intervention, home visiting, and preschool programs – that will support children from birth through kindergarten entry.
Applicants must consider how they will ensure smooth and seamless transitions for children and families, particularly as infants transition into center-based or family child care services, and as toddlers transition to preschool services. Grantees are required to plan for transitions for children out of EHS, including assisting families with preschool options for children after their program ends through agreements with publicly funded Head Start, pre-kindergarten, and child care programs.
ACF is responsible for ensuring that all entities, regardless of the model, that are awarded a grant through this FOA and where relevant, their partner sites or delegate agencies, meet applicable Head Start and local child care licensing and other regulations for all the children or sites funded by this grant. These include requirements established by the HSPPS; relevant provisions of the Head Start Act; and applicable state, tribal, and/or local child care requirements. ACF acknowledges that meeting applicable requirements will require a commitment by both the grantee and, in the case of EHS-CC Partnership grantees, the partners, to fulfill their agreed-upon roles and responsibilities and adequate funding and support. Grantees that receive funds for EHS Expansion slots will be expected to meet all applicable HSPPS at the point the children are being served in EHS Expansion slots. OHS is responsible for monitoring the quality of EHS program services and the grantees' compliance with federal and other applicable requirements based on the authority in 42 U.S.C. § 9836A(c)(1) of the Head Start Act.
The following list provides a brief summary of the EHS services to be provided to the children and families through this grant:
- Eligibility, recruitment, selection, enrollment, and attendance, ensuring the most vulnerable children are served;
- Comprehensive early childhood education and development services that promote the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and language development of young children and families during the early years through:
- EHS group sizes and teacher/caregiver to child ratios;
- Qualified and trained staff to ensure warm and continuous relationships between caregivers, children, and families that are crucial to learning and development for infants and toddlers;
- Parent involvement in their children’s learning and development;
- Provision of learning opportunities for infants and toddlers to grow and develop in warm, nurturing, and inclusive environments;
- Culturally and linguistically responsive services that support continuity of care between the home environment of the child and the program;
- Health and safety of enrolled children;
- Health promotion by providing comprehensive health, mental health, and oral health services for children, and helping families to identify and access a medical home to ensure ongoing care;
- Nutrition, including participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and arrangements for nursing mothers who choose to breastfeed and provision of formula in center-based programs and family child care homes;
- Inclusion of at-risk children with disabilities by ensuring:
- Services meet the needs of children with disabilities and their families, including the establishment and implementation of procedures to identify such children and plans to coordinate with programs providing services as described in 42 U.S.C. § 9840A(b)(11) of the Head Start Act;
- Children with documented behavioral problems receive appropriate screening and referral;
- An inclusive, supportive environment where children with disabilities can be served in the same settings as typically developing children; and
- That 10 percent of the children enrolled have a disability, unless granted a waiver by OHS.
- Family partnerships providing services to parents that:
- Support their role as parents;
- Promote positive parent-child interactions, including the participation of fathers; and
- Enable families to move toward self-sufficiency.
- Community partnerships by ensuring formal linkages and coordination with community agencies located in the area or state that provide services within the birth-to-five continuum of care and education to ensure that children receive continuous, coordinated services from birth to school entry. Coordination should include such providers as early intervention service providers; other agencies providing services to infants and toddlers, including the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program and other home visiting programs, local Head Start programs; state pre-kindergarten; and other local providers of early childhood education.
- Administrative and financial management, including:
- Ensuring a well-functioning governing body to share responsibility for oversight of the delivery of high-quality services;
- Ensuring financial management systems are in place that meet requirements set forth in 45 CFR § 75.302;
- Ensuring family involvement in the program through opportunities such as participation in the policy council or committees at the grantee level;
- Ensuring that the level of services provided to families responds to their specific needs and circumstances;
- Recruiting, training, and supervising high-quality staff;
- Providing professional development plans for each staff member to ensure that each staff person attains and maintains qualifications for his/her position and meets all Head Start requirements for staff working with infants and toddlers (Head Start Act 42 U.S.C. § 9840A(h)(2));
- Implementing a systematic procedure for transitioning children, such as:
- Ensuring continuity of services and smooth transitions when the needs of families change, to ensure that children served through the EHS-CC Partnership receive ongoing services through fluctuations of family status;
- Supporting transition planning with families to ensure each pregnant woman and child experiences smooth transitions into EHS and child care services; and from EHS and child care services to Head Start or other preschool programs.
- Implementing appropriate financial management systems so that expenditures are attributable to specific activities under the grant award.
- Transportation by working with families to address their transportation needs and providing or helping them find transportation, as needed to participate in the program.
- Facilities by ensuring centers and family child care homes meet licensing and all health and safety requirements for infants and toddlers.
Overview of Early Head Start and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Models
EHS enrolls pregnant women and children from birth to age 3. Applicants may request to operate services through the EHS-CC Partnership model for center-based services for infants and toddlers, and family child care services for infants, toddlers, and children up to the age of 3; or through the non-partnership EHS Expansion model for direct or delegated center-based, family child care; home-based or locally designed options with services for pregnant women, infants, and toddlers; or a combination approach of both models. Grantees, regardless of the model(s) or option(s), must serve a sufficient number of pregnant women, infants, and toddlers, and their families so that the funding level is adequate to support the full array of staffing and infrastructure necessary for successful implementation. Although ACF is not setting a minimum number of participant slots for which applicants must apply, ACF recommends applicants not currently operating EHS or EHS-CC Partnerships propose no fewer than 72 slots, which may include multiple child care center and/or family child care home partner sites. ACF recognizes that organizations with existing EHS infrastructure to support the necessary services may propose fewer than 72 slots.
Applicants should identify the model(s) they plan to implement (in a post-COVID-19 without the physical distancing restrictions currently in place due to COVID-19). The non-partnership EHS Expansion model is operated directly by the program and/or its delegates. The EHS-CC Partnership model is operated through child care centers and family child care homes, generally through a contracted partnership. Applicants may also propose to offer both models in a single program.
Regardless of model, all grantees are required to leverage existing local resources and collaborate with community organizations to ensure that a comprehensive array of health, mental health, nutrition, and social services are provided to enrolled pregnant women, infants, toddlers, and their families.
Center-based services are delivered in a child care or early education center. Programs select the center-based design that provides sufficient hours to meet the needs of eligible children and families in their communities.
EHS programs must operate a minimum of 1,380 hours per year. While length of day is not prescribed, for most programs, this is a minimum of 6 hours per day, 46 weeks per year. OHS expects EHS-CC Partnership grantees to provide a minimum of 10 hours per day all year to meet the needs of working families. Programs generally use resources in addition to EHS funding to meet the full-day needs of families.
The requirements for the center-based option are listed in the HSPPS, section 45 CFR § 1302.21.
The home-based option delivers the full range of required services through a minimum of 46 weekly visits with a child’s parent(s) and at least 22 group socialization experiences over the course of the year. For example, for young infants or medically fragile children in very rural areas, and when families prefer not to send their infants and toddlers to center-based care, this option may be implemented when a parent is available at home. The home-based option is not compatible with the EHS-CC Partnership model.
The requirements for this option are fully described in the HSPPS section 45 CFR § 1302.22.
Family Child Care Option
The full range of Head Start services are delivered to children enrolled in family child care homes operated directly by the grantee or through a contract with the family child care provider(s). This model must operate sufficient hours to meet the needs of families and not less than 1,380 hours per year. This option may be implemented, for example, when families need flexible hours, prefer a home-like setting, or want siblings to attend together. It may also be the best option when there is no available facility in a community to operate a center-based program.
Developing Family Child Care Providers and Building Networks
In communities with a shortage of child care, innovative approaches can increase the supply of high-quality early care and education in the community. Such approaches might include training new family child care providers and establishing family child care networks. Family child care networks can create increased administrative efficiency and access to resources. They also can decrease isolation and increase professional development opportunities and support among and between family child care providers.
The requirements for this option are fully described in the HSPPS section 45 CFR § 1302.23.
Locally Designed Program Options
Based on the strategic plan and community assessment, applicants may propose a variation that responds to the needs of families in the community. Some communities or eligible populations may have unique needs for services that do not fall within the standard options or models described earlier. Applicants to provide EHS to such populations or communities are encouraged to propose innovative designs or a combination of existing program options using the waiver process for locally designed options described in section 45 CFR § 1302.24 of the HSPPS. Selection of this option must be supported by evidence that demonstrates the locally-designed variation effectively supports appropriate development and progress in children’s early learning outcomes.
Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (EHS-CC Partnerships) Model
In this model, eligible infants and toddlers enrolled in center-based and/or family child care receive high-quality, comprehensive services that meet the HSPPS, including requirements for teacher qualifications, curriculum, screening, nutrition, and other services. EHS-CC Partnership grantees are required to use a layered funding model that integrates additional funding and resources for a seamless full-day and full-year of comprehensive services.
More than 60 percent of infants and toddlers served through CCDF are in families living below the federal poverty level; therefore, they are also eligible for EHS. Children in poverty who need full-day child care frequently also need the comprehensive services provided by EHS. Also, because of the relatively underserved proportion of subsidy-eligible children under age 3 in high-quality early learning programs, applicants are strongly encouraged to target areas with high concentrations of subsidy-receiving and subsidy-eligible (e.g., children on subsidy waiting lists) children and their families. For children in poverty already in child care, improving the quality of those child care programs is a need often identified by communities.
EHS-CC Partnerships have the benefit of "ripple effects" for children who may not be enrolled in an EHS-CC Partnership slot, but who receive services at an EHS-CC Partnership site, increasing the positive reach of the model. For example, all infants and toddlers attending an EHS-CC Partnership site, whether enrolled in EHS or not, may benefit from program-level enhancements such as lower teacher-child ratios, staff training, and facilities and homes that meet licensing and other safety requirements.
EHS-CC Partner Roles and Responsibilities
It is expected that through the EHS-CC Partnership, grantees and their partners will be able to deliver higher quality and comprehensive services to all enrolled children by layered federal funds for the eligible EHS children and the child care subsidies and/or other funds. Funding provided through this grant will support the implementation of these requirements and must be allocated appropriately between the grantee and the partners to do so. The exact role for each partner will vary at the local level, depending on existing and proposed services through EHS and child care for each partnership. The EHS-CC Partnership grantee and partnering child care provider(s) must establish clearly defined roles and responsibilities articulated through a sub-recipient agreement or a contract. Clearly defining joint roles and responsibilities, and those that are separate and distinct, to the grantee and to the partners, is vital in ensuring accountability for meeting all requirements of the grant.
All EHS-CC Partnership grantees must ensure that every child receives all of the required services set forth in the HSPPS, whether that is done directly by the grantee or through support or financial assistance to the child care partner. EHS-CC Partner sites are responsible for meeting the HSPPS for the services rendered through the agreement as specified with the grantee, such as education, health and safety needs, family partnerships, nutrition, etc. Grantees will ensure that all other comprehensive services will be provided directly by the grantee, by the partners, or through community referrals. Roles and responsibilities of the EHS-CC Partnership grantee and the child care partners are summarized in, but not limited to, the list below.
Grantee Level Responsibilities
- Engaging partners early and continuously in the planning process;
- Ensuring the provision of all comprehensive services, including health, mental health, oral health, nutrition, education, and parent engagement services for all children enrolled EHS and EHS-CC Partnership;
- Ensuring that all administrative and financial management requirements are met;
- Ensuring all EHS staff and EHS-CC Partnership teachers meet minimum qualifications for their positions;
- Providing technical assistance and professional development, coaching, and supervision for all staff with an emphasis on continuity of care and relational learning that supports children and their families and fosters school readiness;
- Ensuring family service workers are available in sufficient numbers to support enrolled families;
- Ensuring a minimum of two annual home visits for each enrolled child;
- Supporting the inclusion and delivery of services to children with disabilities (at least 10 percent of funded enrollment);
- Fully assessing and ensuring the physical environment and facilities meet all HSPPS, including requirements for square footage, health and safety, appropriate crib and sleep spacing and arrangements, and facilities;
- Planning for and providing resources to support partner access to safe, developmentally appropriate outdoor environments that allow children to grow and thrive in the natural environment;
- Ensuring compliance with all applicable regulations, including state and/or local child care licensing;
- Ensuring children retain services regardless of their subsidy status; and
- Engaging parents in program decision-making through involvement on the Policy Council.
EHS-CC Partnership grantees are expected to build upon the existing services provided by the partners as well as other available community resources.
EHS-CC Partner Responsibilities
- Ensuring adult-child ratios and group sizes meet EHS standards or state, territory, or tribal requirements – whichever requirements are more stringent – at all times. (This may require additional staffing to ensure appropriate coverage for full-day services while also minimizing the number of transitions and maximizing the consistency and stability of relationships for very young children);
- Implementing evidence-based curriculum that is developmentally appropriate for infants and toddlers;
- Conducting ongoing assessment of children to individualize the instruction and learning for each child;
- Providing health and nutrition services, including all developmental, sensory, and behavioral screening and assistance with provision of follow-up services; and
- Engaging parents in the full range of child development and family support services.
Start-Up and Implementation Period for All Grantees (regardless of model)
Newly awarded grantees, regardless of model or option(s), should anticipate a reasonable start-up period and will be expected to begin providing services as soon as high-quality services can reasonably be provided (i.e., when high-quality facilities are ready and staff have been trained). Grantees are expected to be fully enrolled no later than 12 months after receiving a grant award.
ACF recognizes that the development and implementation of a start-up plan is critical to the success of new or expanded programs for all grantees, regardless of model. The development of the timeline for pre-operational activities, including orientation, training, and health and safety checks is also critical to ensure children have the necessary equipment and materials. Planning for the provision of EHS services requires a thoughtful process in both design and implementation, including engagement with community entities. Planning for EHS-CC Partnerships must incorporate the strengths and resources the child care and family child care partners bring to the partnership and the contributions of other community organizations. Planning for program implementation should begin with this application and continue at the time of funding. Start-up planning and implementation will consist of:
- Negotiating and implementing contract agreements with a manageable number of partners;
- Creating an organizational structure to support provision of comprehensive services to children and families;
- Developing plans to provide high-quality, comprehensive services (health, mental health, family support services, and nutrition);
- Hiring qualified staff, including required background checks, and developing professional development plans for each staff member;
- Providing for training and professional development activities, which move staff on a career pathway towards knowledge, skills, and credentials associated with enhanced quality;
- Developing plans to provide both EHS and, if applicable, child care staff with training as required by HSPPS; state, territory, or tribal and local child care licensing; and other regulations;
- Developing plans to ensure high-quality group care environments, including assessing and improving settings to ensure the safety, well-being, and developmental appropriateness for children, staff, and families;
- Developing plans to lessen barriers such as lack of transportation;
- Developing management, fiscal, and facilities plans;
- Developing service plans that include a schedule for screening and ongoing assessment and the selection and implementation of an evidence-based curriculum;
- Developing plans to implement and facilitate a coordinated system of care that will assist in meeting the needs of the children and families, including partnership with the local Part C (of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) intervention agency that coordinates services for infants and toddlers with disabilities;
- Developing systems of ongoing oversight and monitoring to ensure quality;
- Recruiting and enrolling children; and
- Planning for and providing access to safe, developmentally appropriate outdoor environments that allow children to grow and thrive in the natural environment.
Activities completed by all applicants during the planning process require a thorough review and understanding of relevant HSPPS and all relevant requirements in the Head Start Act. All newly funded EHS grantees will have a variety of resources available to support their planning and implementation efforts, including the resources listed in Section VIII. Other Information, Reference Websites of this FOA. All EHS Expansion or EHS-CC Partnership grantee applicants are strongly encouraged to use a start-up planner and/or a fiscal consultant to help ensure plans, policies, and procedures are in place to address all regulations.
Applicants are encouraged to request start-up funds; however, the approval of start-up funding as requested is not guaranteed.
Start-Up and Implementation Period for EHS-CC Partnership Grantees
Early implementation of the first round of EHS-CC Partnership grants has contributed to an expanded body of knowledge regarding the keys to success in these programs. In addition to the previously addressed considerations for all applicants, EHS-CC Partnership grantees should focus on the following during the start-up/implementation period:
- Conducting self-assessment and partner-assessment activities, including applicants assessing their own capacity to provide technical assistance to partners to meet EHS standards and considering whether they will need to contract with other entities to provide support through the grant; discussion with partners should include an in-depth assessment of partner needs related to facilities, referral and enrollment protocols, classroom environment, ratios, group size, professional development, staff qualifications, staffing plans (including substitutes), salary enhancements, curriculum, meals, and other supports;
- Working with partners to jointly develop partnership contracts and agreements that include information such as sites of services, specific roles and responsibilities of the grantee and the partners, and selection of partnership child care sites; EHS-CC Partnership contracts and agreements should be individualized to address the unique needs of each partner; and programs are encouraged to work with a manageable number of partners;
- Establishing payment terms and conditions that are stated in the contract or agreement and ensure partners have access to sufficient funds to accomplish the goals and objectives. Partners should be paid on an enrollment basis -- rather than on an attendance basis. Other costs associated with fully preparing partnership staff and the care environment to meet HSPPS must be calculated into payments made under the agreement. Timing of payments to partners is also crucial. If funds are to be used to support staff qualifications, facilities renovation, and other immediate needs, then those initial costs and methods for providing funds to partners must be covered in the contract. Partner contracts or agreements and the program budgets must anticipate the loss of child care subsidy or other funding and must recognize that the loss of funding is not a basis for dis-enrolling an EHS-CC Partnership child already enrolled in the program;
- Developing plans for staffing coverage that allows for primary caregiving relationships and continuity of care for EHS-CC Partnership enrolled children. Because the required EHS staffing ratio is one teacher for every four children and no more than eight children in one group or classroom, additional teachers and staff will be needed to cover full hours of operation and conduct the range of duties (e.g., lesson planning, reflective supervision, etc.) necessary to provide EHS-CC Partnership services;
- Developing plans to support the professional development of staff over time and strategies to ensure that wages of EHS-CC Partnership caregivers are on par with similarly qualified EHS teachers; and
- Planning systems of ongoing oversight and support to ensure high-quality service provision through the life of the grant; contract adjustments may be needed over time with constant assessment to help determine the level of adjustment.
Administrative Cost Waiver
No more than 15 percent of total costs may be used for program administration. An HHS official may grant a waiver of the 15 percent limitation on allowable development and administration costs for a Head Start or EHS program approving a higher percentage for a specific period of time not to exceed 12 months (45 CFR § 1303.5).
Oversight and Monitoring Reviews
OHS is responsible for monitoring the quality of Head Start and/or EHS program services and the grantee's compliance with federal and other applicable requirements, and to provide access to training and technical assistance as needed. The federal government uses several mechanisms to conduct its oversight, including ongoing communication with ACF regional offices and periodic site visits. Federal monitoring reviews are required by the Head Start Act. Over the course of the project period, reviews are conducted to ensure compliance with the HSPPS and other applicable regulations. Monitoring reviews may occur onsite or offsite, and include compliance with health and safety requirements, rules related to children's eligibility for the program, and financial management requirements.
As a condition of acceptance of an award under this FOA, all grantees are required to participate fully in ACF-sponsored evaluations and adhere to all evaluation protocols established by ACF to be carried out by its designee contractors.
ACF-led evaluations are subject to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). ACF will obtain OMB approval prior to requiring grantees to respond to a collection of information.
Eligible Participants (all grantees)
EHS programs enroll pregnant women and infants and toddlers from birth to age 3. Additionally, EHS-CC Partnership grantees may serve children in family child care settings from birth to 48 months. Families must have incomes below the poverty line, be eligible for public assistance, be homeless, or be in foster care to be eligible for services (see definitions in 45 CFR § 1305.2). Children are selected for enrollment based on age, income eligibility, and relative level of need with regard to other criteria that are identified within each community (45 CFR § 1302.12(b)(c)).
Head Start regulations permit up to 10 percent of enrolled participants to be from families that do not meet these low-income criteria.
Additionally, programs must ensure that at least 10 percent of the total number of children enrolled by the Head Start or EHS agency and delegates are children with disabilities unless a waiver is granted.
Child care subsidy eligibility requirements under CCDF are established by states, territories, and tribes and vary within a broad set of parameters established by federal rules. Each CCDF lead agency sets income eligibility limits up to 85 percent of state median income. Families must be working or participating in education/training, and children must be under age 13. In CCDF, more than 60 percent of infants and toddlers served are in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold and, therefore, are eligible for EHS also.
Applicants may elect to propose program models that promote socioeconomic diversity within classrooms. Federal Head Start funds must be used to serve eligible children as described in this section. Additional children who are not income-eligible for EHS can be served as long as their participation is supported through other funding sources such as child care subsidies, public school pre-K allocations, parent-paid tuition, or other sources. Such program designs may be beneficial in promoting socioeconomic diversity within classrooms. All costs must be allocated to appropriate funding sources in compliance with federal requirements.
Mortgages and Long-Term Lease Agreements
If so directed by OHS, the newly funded grantee must accept assignment of any existing mortgages, long-term lease agreements, or security agreements (in the case of a modular unit) on properties subject to a federal interest occupied by the current grantee.
Recipients under this grant program may opt to transfer a portion of substantive programmatic work to other organizations through subaward(s). The prime recipient is responsible for oversight of all programmatic, financial, and administrative matters, including reporting, related to the grant. This responsibility includes oversight of these matters as they relate to the subrecipient(s).
In addition, the prime recipient must maintain a substantive role in the project. ACF defines a substantive role as conducting activities and/or providing services funded under the award that are necessary and integral to the completion of the project. Subrecipient monitoring activities alone as specified in 45 CFR § 75.352 do not constitute a substantive role.
Subrecipient(s) must meet the eligibility requirements identified in Section III.1. Eligible Applicants. Additionally, all subrecipient(s) must obtain a DUNS number if they do not already have one. Prime recipients are required to check the System for Award Management (SAM) to verify that the subrecipient(s) is/are not debarred, suspended, or ineligible. See Section IV.3 Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM).
Subrecipients may provide cost sharing or matching towards the prime recipient’s requirement, if their contribution meets requirements at 45 CFR § 75.306. For more information, please refer to Section III.2. Cost Sharing and Matching.
The prime recipient must conduct a risk assessment of subrecipient(s) in accordance with 45 CFR § 75.352(b). Prime recipients are required to adhere to the requirements noted in 45 CFR § 75.352 and be in compliance with 45 CFR § 75.351 and § 75.353. Prime recipients may be required to report under the Federal Financial Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA). Information about the FFATA is located at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/award-term-for-federal-financial-accountability-and-transparency.
Should a subrecipient perform unsatisfactorily, the prime recipient is responsible for remedying subrecipient issues. The prime recipient will be held accountable for cost disallowances regarding subawarded funds. Subrecipient performance will also be considered during review of applications for non-competing continuations. If requirements of the program cannot be met due to subrecipient issues, ACF may need to take one or more of the actions listed under 45 CFR § 75.371-.375.
If the applicant proposes to issue subaward(s), but has not yet identified the subrecipient organization(s) by the time of application submission, if awarded, the prime recipient must submit a prior approval request with the name of the subrecipient organization(s), updated description(s) of the work to be performed, and updated subaward budget(s) and budget justification(s). This information must be submitted within 90 days of the start date of the grant. If a subaward was not originally proposed in the application, but later becomes necessary, ACF prior approval is required before any activities in the subaward request begin.
If, during the project period, OHS and/or grantees are required to adjust program and/or grant requirements due to the coronavirus and COVID-19 or other emergency, OHS will exercise maximum flexibilities as needed. Requirements may be conducted virtually or timelines modified in consultation with OHS.