Every one of the four California Head Start operators required to compete for their federal grant in a new process aimed at improving program quality was told Tuesday that their grant had been renewed. But some of those grants will be smaller next year, as the money will now be divided between additional grantees.
The most notable change will be in Los Angeles County, where the Los Angeles County Office of Education has for many years maintained the largest Head Start grant in the country, serving more than 30,000 children. Now they could share their Head Start and Early Head Start funding with 14 other organizations, according to the list of preliminarily selected grantees released by the national Office of Head Start. A finalized list is expected in July, according to the office. The exact amount of the awards has not been released, pending negotiations with the awardees.
“Mostly, it’s really going to shrink the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s staff and influence,” said Laura Escobedo, the child care planning coordinator for Los Angeles County.
For the first time in the history of the federally funded early child care program for low-income families, grantees whose programs did not meet certain quality standards in federal inspections were required to reapply for their funding and to compete with new applicants for the available funds. Grantees, mostly nonprofits and school systems, had been receiving pro forma grant renewals for decades.
Escobedo said the majority of new grantees in the Los Angeles area have been providing Head Start services as delegates of the county’s Office of Education, but have not had their own award. The only new grantee in L.A. county is St. Anne’s Maternity Home, which already has a contract to provide similar services through the state, Escobedo said.
“Being your own grantee puts you a little more in the driver’s seat,” Escobedo said. “On the other hand, you have to come up with your own support.”
The other three providers required to re-compete for their grants, Contra Costa County, the E. Center in Marysville and the Institute for Human and Social Development Inc. in San Francisco, also had their grants renewed. Contra Costa County will split its grant with The Spanish Speaking Unity Council of Alameda County Inc. As in Los Angeles County, it is still unclear how the new grantees will divide the funds.