Head Start launches pilot project to encourage innovation in birth-to-5 education

 

Head Start launches pilot project to encourage innovation in birth-to-5 education

Sites include Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Jersey City and Sunflower County, MS

Washington, DC —

The Office of Head Start is launching a pilot funding opportunity in five communities to provide a comprehensive birth-to-5 Head Start and Early Head Start program, including services for expectant families.   For the first time in Head Start’s history, this “birth-to-5” funding opportunity gives applicants new flexibility to create a seamless birth-to-five program incorporating both Head Start and Early Head Start funding. 

Previously, an organization had to submit separate applications to fund services for Head Start (preschool-aged children) and Early Head Start (pregnant women, infants, and toddlers).  Under this new approach, applicants now have the freedom to submit one application to cover both programs.  Additionally, in this pilot project, applicants can now design a birth-to-five program according to their own community’s needs.

The pilot program is rolling out in Detroit, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Jersey City, and Sunflower County in Mississippi.  Each of these locations was specifically chosen because, together, they represent a wide variety of geographic and demographic challenges and opportunities. 

“This new pilot funding opportunity is designed to give grantees the freedom they need to best serve the families and children in their communities,” said Director of the Office of Head Start Yvette Sanchez Fuentes. “By encouraging our applicants to consider the needs of children from birth through preschool in their own towns and cities, we are promoting a consistent, tailored approach to ensure that children are developing the skills and tools they need for elementary school all across our nation.”  

This new funding opportunity is the latest in a series of reforms undertaken by the Office of Head Start at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families.  In addition to improving the application process, Head Start now requires grantees who aren’t meeting certain benchmarks to compete with other potential early childhood education providers for continued funding.  The Office of Head Start has also initiated a large scale improvement of the grantee training and technical assistance system.

Organizations interested in applying for Head Start and/or Early Head Start funds in one of the pilot areas can find the funding announcement on ACF’s funding opportunities site at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/foa/office/ohs.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to bring new and innovative ideas that are evidence-based or evidence-informed to prepare children and their families for school.

In an effort to provide relevant information and support for all applicants, the Office of Head Start has created an Applicant Support Website. This interactive website offers a robust collection of resources intended to support organizations in gaining a deeper understanding of the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, the funding opportunity announcement, and the evaluation criteria for health and safety, fiscal integrity and measures of Head Start classroom quality.

For more information on Head Start, please visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ohs/.

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