Early Childhood

Head Start to Cull Low-Performing Centers

By Christina A. Samuels — April 16, 2013 1 min read

Twenty-five of 125 low-performing Head Start providers that went through a recompetition process to maintain federal funding are losing their entire service areas, the federal office of Head Start says—although the office has yet to release the names of those centers.

That’s because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Head Start, says it is still in negotiations with potential new grantees. Until those negotiations are concluded, the providers that are losing their funding may end up having a chance to recompete for a piece of the $7.6 billion early-childhood-education program.

The final list of new and returning grantees will be released in July, according to the Head Start office.

Fourteen grantees, also as yet unnamed, will see the money they receive now split between new and existing providers, and 80 providers will continue to receive their existing funds, according to Head Start.

In all, 160 prospective providers are in negotiations to cover the areas that were once served by the 125 organizations.

In six cases, the current Head Start grantee was the only one that applied for the federal money, but the federal reviewers determined those programs did not meet quality standards. In those cases, the HHS plans to reopen the competition this spring, but allow those providers to continue operating for the time being.

Head Start announced in 2011 that some grant recipients would have to recompete for funding. Among them were the Los Angeles County office of education; the New Haven, Conn., and Pittsburgh school systems; and the city of Detroit.

The competition process marked the first time in the program’s 48-year history that providers had been asked to reapply for federal aid. The government has always had the authority to pull funds for health and safety reasons, or if there was evidence of fiscal mismanagement. But in most cases, the grants have been automatically renewed.

Head Start is now moving to a five-year grant process, so that no provider will be getting money in perpetuity without a review, said George Sheldon, the acting assistant secretary for the federal administration for children and families, in a press call.

A version of this article appeared in the April 17, 2013 edition of Education Week as Head Start Program Culls Some Centers

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