The Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for the ninth round of Designation Renewal System (DRS) grant competitions were announced on Applications are due no later than January 5, 2021. FOAs are available on the Office of Head Start (OHS) Funding Opportunities website.

DRS FOAs were released by state (in past rounds, there was a FOA for each service area that was up for competition). For example, state FOAs include the language, “communities in the state of…” In the Appendix of each FOA, the service areas and funding amounts are defined. A Competition Identification Number is assigned to each service area and will need to be included in the applicant’s SF-424 at the time of submission.

There are few substantive changes from DRS round 8 to DRS round 9. Some of the most significant changes are noted below.

COVID-19 language is new and appears in two places. First, applicants are asked to submit applications that are “based on the number of children they project can be served in a post-Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) environment without the physical distancing restrictions currently in place due to COVID-19.” The second area allows for flexibilities in implementation.

If, during the project period, OHS and/or grantees are required to adjust program and/or grant requirements due to COVID-19 or other emergency, OHS will exercise maximum flexibilities as needed. Requirements may be conducted virtually or timelines may be modified in consultation with OHS.

There is more robust language for the Plan for Oversight of Federal Award Funds and Activities. Specific standards for effective oversight, described in the FOA, must be addressed. Applicants will “describe the framework (e.g. governance, policies and procedures, risk management, systems) in place to ensure proper oversight of federal funds and activities.”

Within Organizational Capacity and Governance, a key word – parents – was added. The FOA states, “applicants must also demonstrate their capacity to effectively implement a system of governance that includes the Policy Council and parents in decision making.”

The Review and Selection Process section includes new language. Specifically, the Office of Grants Management will perform a review of property requests and documentation to assess compliance with federal regulations and requirements of the FOA. Additional information (e.g., lease agreements) may be requested. This section also addresses the prime recipient’s and subrecipient’s roles.

Please note that this list of changes is not all-inclusive. There are minor changes throughout the FOA. In your detailed review of the FOA, you might also notice some differences in language from past rounds of DRS (e.g., a preference for pre-kindergarten over pre-k).

Please be in touch if your program is competing for funding in DRS and needs help. We are at capacity for comprehensive grant writing and grant coaching, though we offer a variety of services to support programs in DRS. Consider a quality assurance review, submission support, or our DRS toolkit to guide you through the process. Contact us to learn more.

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