Each year, the release of the National Overview of Grantee CLASS Scores provides national statistics by CLASS domain and dimension of the grantees that received CLASS reviews during the past program year. The National Overview for 2019 was recently made available.

As it relates to DRS, the National Overview of Grantee CLASS Scores provides valuable information to grantees that received a CLASS review. In the report, the lowest 10% of the national distribution of grantee-level domain scores is listed. Per the Head Start Act, if a program scores in the bottom 10% they are required to compete for continued funding. The lowest 10% thresholds for CLASS scores in 2019 are: 5.6875 for Emotional Support, 5.3241 for Classroom Organization, and 2.3333 for Instructional Support.

We learned at the NHSA Winter Leadership Institute that until the August 2019 Notice of Proposed Rule-making on changes to the CLASS condition of DRS is made a Final Rule, the current CLASS condition will apply. The Final Rule is expected in summer 2020.

Since the Final Rule is uncertain, programs that had a 2018-2019 CLASS review and whose scores fall into the lowest 10% may feel unsure about their path forward. We recommend a dual planning pathway. Either your program will compete for funding in DRS or your program will submit a new 5-year baseline grant application. Finding the similarities between the two, and planning for both, will allow your program to be prepared regardless of the path it is ultimately required to take.

Naturally, the stakes are much higher for programs competing for funding in DRS than those submitting a baseline application. The application requirements are far more extensive for DRS than baseline. However, there are core similarities between the two.

DRS and baseline applications are opportunities for programs to

  • Update community assessment data and reflect on the most pressing community needs;
  • Modify their program design to best meet the needs of vulnerable children and families; and
  • Engage staff and community providers in a planning process that will lead to a collaborative approach to the provision of comprehensive services.

Proposing a compelling program design that maximizes resources and leverages partnerships to meet community needs is at the heart of baseline and DRS proposals.

The main differences in how programs approach DRS or their baseline application lie in the complexity, timing, and competition. We recommend preparing your program staff for how each scenario will look. Consider key roles and responsibilities. Who will coordinate program design discussions? And prepare the budget? Who will draft the proposal and when and what types of approvals will be necessary? DRS is more time-consuming and typically requires more resources and support to prepare an application. Consider how your team and roles and responsibilities might differ if you will compete for funding through DRS or submit a non-competitive baseline application.

The best case scenario is that OHS provides an update soon on the Final Rule and what it will mean for programs. Until then, planning is key. By taking a dual planning pathway, your program will be ready whether it is required to submit a competitive or a non-competitive proposal!

Foundations for Families offers a variety of Grant Writing Solutions for programs submitting baseline, continuation, and competitive grant applications. Contact us to learn more about our strategies to support quality and compelling proposals for funding.

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