Currents Winter 2016-2017

Image of the masthead for the e-newsletter Currents, which shows the ocean with an island in the background and seagulls in the


Mark GreenbergMark Greenberg, Acting Assistant Secretary

Message from Acting Assistant Secretary Greenberg

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) allocates over $525 million to support human services programs in American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands. The broad array of human services programs in the territories may include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Head Start, Child Care, Low Income Home Energy Assistance, Child Support, Refugee Resettlement, Native American Social and Economic Development, Prevention of Child Abuse, Adoption and Foster Care, Support for Community Action Programs, among others. These programs, carried out by the territories, and public and private local agencies, are designed to promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities. Through our grants administration, technical assistance, research and policy guidance, we seek to support public and private efforts to strengthen families and communities in the territories and promote their economic mobility.

Each territory has its own characteristics and faces unique challenges, but there are common issues to address: for example, cultural, linguistic and geographical differences; human capital, resources and fiscal limitations; complexity of funding streams; among others. In 2014, we took unprecedented proactive steps to provide a uniform agency-wide approach to support the efficient and effective management of ACF-funded programs in the territories; and established the ACF Territories Together Initiative.

Since June 2015, CURRENTS, our quarterly newsletter for/about territories, is providing you with information on ACF programs, funding opportunities, training and technical assistance and employment opportunities. Through the newsletter, we keep you up-to-date with the initiatives and strategies we are developing to ensure that ACF is reaching out to, supporting and appropriately serving our constituents in the Caribbean and Pacific Territories.

As I look back to the past few years, I am proud of the efforts we have made to, among other things:

  • Strengthen communications and coordination with our territorial counterparts;
  • Work closely with territorial officials to address existing compliance and audit issues; and
  • To expand and coordinate culturally and linguistically responsive training and technical assistance

Together, we have engaged in a productive dialogue on how to improve the life of children and families in American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Together, we have worked to ensure families and children in the territories are more resilient, safe, healthy and economically secure. Thank you!

Spotlight – Bob Garcia, Regional Administrator Region 9


A man at a podiumRA Garcia speaking at the Arizona Head Start Association’s Board Meeting

After 27 years of federal service, Bob Garcia will be retiring at the end of December. Bob’s distinguished career has been capped off with a four year run as the Regional Administrator for Region 9. He fundamentally changed the work environment in the Office of the Regional Administrator and the ACF regional office as a whole.

Bob spent a lot of time working on issues that were pertinent to the territories and freely associated states of the Pacific. This year, from August 31-September 16, Bob traveled to the Outer Pacific jurisdictions of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and Guam to meet with Human Services Agency leadership. He provided background and guidance on ACF initiatives and activities, while obtaining first-hand information on ACF program operations on these jurisdictions. Bob completed a similar trip in 2015.

Last year, from September 19-29, Bob traveled to the Outer Pacific jurisdictions of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Guam to discuss ACF priority areas and Territory issues as part of a general introduction to the ACF Regional Office and RA functions and duties. The Guam site visit included meetings with the Human Services Director, leadership and staff from the CCDF, TANF, and Child Welfare programs, as well as courtesy meeting with Governor Eddie Calvo. Topics of discussion included ACF program policy and technical assistance needs, as well as the potential for collaboration on human trafficking and homelessness.

The CNMI site visit included meetings with the Secretary of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs (the Human Services agency) and leadership and staff from the CCDF and Child Welfare programs. Among the topics of discussion, the focus was on the relationship between the Child Welfare program and the ACF Office of Community Services, which provides Social Services Block Grant funds for program operations, and the need for increased technical assistance for this program. There was also a focused discussion on emergency preparedness, response, and recovery in light of the recent impact of Typhoon Soudelor on CNMI.

Bob began his career with the federal government and the U.S. Department of Health and Human services in 1989 when he was hired as the Regional Child Development Program Specialist. His initial assignment was serving as a Head Start Program Specialist for two years until the authorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act and ensuing federal child care program. He worked as the Regional Child Care program lead staff from 1991 to 2006 when he was promoted to the Regional Program Manager of the Office of Child Care. Over the course of his federal government career, Bob also worked in several other ACF programs, including Child Welfare and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Bob will maintain his active lifestyle as he begins retirement. We will miss Bob. His type of leadership is hard to come by. Not only is he a transformational leader but he also has the people skills that make him easy to approach and he brings out the best in people.

News Briefs


Point-in-Time (PIT) Counts of Homeless in PR and USVI

ACF Region 2 staff joined efforts with HUD’s Community Planning and Developing staff in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to promote opportunities of collaboration and partnership among our grantees. On October 25, 2016 ACF staff participated in a conference call with HUD’s Continuum of Care (CoC) grantees in PR and the USVI and highlighted the importance of partnering with ACF programs to ensure homeless youth and families are counted in the 2017 Point In Time Count (PIT).

In late January 2017, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (USVI) will conduct Point in Time (PIT) counts of unsheltered and sheltered homeless. The Point-in-Time (PIT) is a count of homeless persons on a single night. Each count is planned, coordinated, and carried out locally. There will also be a Housing Inventory Count (HIC), a point-in-time inventory of beds and units dedicated to serve the homeless in Emergency Shelters, Transitional Housing, Rapid Re-housing, Save Haven and Permanent Supportive Housing.

The 2017 HIC and PIT count data will provide critical updates on national and local progress towards preventing and ending homelessness. PIT efforts require collaboration across several sectors and a large number of trained volunteers to ensure everyone is counted.

Contact your Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Visit disclaimer page for more details on how to ensure your area is counted or to volunteer for the PIT. Visit the Homelessness Data Exchange for HIT and PIT tools and resources Visit disclaimer page .

Finally, please visit the ACF home page to learn more about our efforts to end homelessness.

Human Services Research in the Insular Areas

The ACF Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) continues to fund the Human Services Research Partnerships (HSRP) in the Caribbean. The Research Partnerships are intended to build research capacity in the territories while improving understanding of the most promising human services approaches to improve the quality of life in the region. Particular focus is on topics related to the Head Start and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs.

This was the final year for the HSRP for Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, the Inter American University-Metro (IAU-M) brought together key stakeholders from academia, government agencies, non-profit organizations and providers, philanthropic institutions and the private sector to develop a multi-stakeholder partnership to advance research, focusing on low-income families and children. IAU-M has released research papers, demographic study and literature reviews, and held a successful conference in August 2016. (Attached please find a presentation by Dr. Hector Cordero-Guzman on TANF participants in Puerto Rico, during ACF’s 2016 Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS).)

The HSRP for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the University of the Virgin Islands, School of Nursing, is focusing on three Head Start/Early Head Start research projects and one TANF pilot:

  • Study 1: Using science to engage parents in the academic progress of Head Start children in the US Virgin Islands: A Pilot Study.
  • Study 2: Understanding the factors that contribute to a call for an increase in the number of health care providers to serve Head Start clients in the US Virgin Islands.
  • Study 3: From eligibility to wait list to enrollment: Factors related to determination of program eligibility and selection for the USVI Head Start program.
  • Study 4: The HSRP VI: TANF Pilot Study will be one pilot study that will be implemented in three cycles or three “road tests”. The overarching research question that the pilot study seeks to answer is: Does a new, coaching-based, individualized approach to goal planning lead to better individual and family outcomes for TANF clients than use of a standard IRP?

In the Pacific, in September 2015, a Child Care Development Block Grant: Implementation Research Planning Grant was awarded to the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI). This 18 month cooperative agreement supports CNMI’s development of rigorous high-quality research plans for evaluating the implementation of policies in response to the goals of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014. This grant is expected to build capacity for the CCDF Lead Agency to conduct policy relevant research and evaluation.

For additional information about these research grants, please contact Wendy DeCourcey, at OPRE.



Here is a partial list of ACF programs and ways to connect. For a complete overview of all ACF programs, visit our ACF Directory, which is also available in Spanish.



ACF programs have a variety of funding opportunities available to support social service programming at the state, local and tribal levels. Our grantees include:

  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • For-profit Organizations
  • Government
  • Educational Organizations
  • Public Housing Groups

ACF funds an array of activities that support the economic and social well-being of people throughout the country. Find out which ACF grants are available today: Funding Opportunities. To learn how to apply for a grant, view this guide to resources for community and faith-based organizations. To learn how to become a grant reviewer, view the ACF Grant Review Guide (also available in Spanish). To learn more about grant and funding opportunities within the individual ACF programs:


ACF Job Openings (partial list, for complete list visit

HHS Job Openings. Apply here:

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Are You a Student or Recent Graduate Who Wants to Work in the White House?

Interested in Student or Summer Internships in the Federal Government?

ACF Peace Corps Recruitment Initiative

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and Peace Corps Staff may be granted one year of noncompetitive eligibility for federal appointments.

Check the Peace Corps Virtual Portal Visit disclaimer page for jobs opportunities at ACF and other federal agencies!

What Is Noncompetitive Eligibility?

Noncompetitive eligibility (NCE) is a special hiring mechanism through which RPCVs and Peace Corps staff can be appointed to certain federal positions without competing with the general public in order to be hired. Federal agencies can hire an RPCV or former Peace Corps employee without posting a vacancy announcement, screening or interviewing candidates, or going through the others steps that are involved in the standard recruitment process.

All that is required is that the agencies have a classified position, an available opening, and that the candidate meets the minimum qualifications for that position.

Noncompetitive eligibility may be extended for up to three years. Reasons for extension include: service in the military; attendance as a full-time student at a recognized institution of higher learning; engagement in an activity that makes the RPCV more qualified for the position or for any reason the hiring agency thinks warrants an extension.

Who Has Non-competitive Eligibility?

Noncompetitive eligibility is extended to two groups of individuals:

  • Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have successfully completed their service
  • Peace Corps Staff who have successfully completed 36 months of continuous service without a break in service of three days or more

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