On Friday, May 12, 2017 the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued a Program Instruction (PI) (ACF-PI-HS-17-02) regarding an FY2017 Head Start funding increase. The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2017 includes an additional $85 million for programs under the Head Start Act. As a result, Head Start and Early Head Start programs may apply for a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). As pointed out in the PI, this includes Early Head Start Expansion/Partnership awardees that began their grant in 2015 as well as those subject to compete for continued funding through DRS.

Here is a summary of key information from the PI:

  • Grantees may apply for a COLA increase of 1% of their FY2016 base funding level. (Remember, this excludes training and technical assistance funds, duration funds, and one-time funding.)
  • If your program uses COLA funds to increase staff salaries then you have to increase the hourly rate of pay and permanently increase the Head Start pay scale (as opposed to only increasing the salaries of current employees). Be sure to check out Sections 653 and 640(j) of the Head Start Act for limitations.
  • You may also use funds to offset increased operating costs in other areas of your program budget (e.g., increased rent, utilities, facilities maintenance, supplies, and equipment).

Regardless of how you choose to allocate COLA funds, ensure the increases are clearly justifiable and detailed in your budget!

Interested in submitting a grant application to request COLA funds? According to the PI, you will receive a funding guidance letter telling you the amount of funding you may apply for, and if you’ve already submitted your annual application you may request that it be returned so that you can add the COLA. Reach out to your Regional Office with any questions!

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