This year’s National Head Start Association (NHSA) Fall Leadership Institute took place virtually, September 20-23, 2021. New and exciting information was shared, including updates on potentially historic increases in funding for Head Start and the child care community.

In our work at Foundations for Families, we pay particular attention to updates on budget projections and forecasts for grant opportunities so that we can share these highlights with you to help inform your program planning. Below is a summary of key funding updates shared by NHSA leadership and federal partners, including Office of Head Start (OHS) staff.

New Funding in Biden Administration Budget: NHSA leadership provided a comprehensive summary of budget updates from the Biden Administration. Most notable, President Biden’s Building Back Better (BBB) Act includes Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) and child care expansion. Head Start is foundational in this proposal, as the plan would require Head Start slots to be filled before any expanded UPK (preschool for 3 and 4-year-olds) in the mixed delivery system takes place.

In a presentation by federal partners, it was also noted that the American Families Plan, of which BBB is a part, includes a set aside for $2.5 billion in annual wage increases for Head Start teachers and staff.

Fiscal Year 2022 Head Start Budget: The FY2022 proposed budget for Head Start is $12.2 billion, an increase from $10.7 billion in FY2021. Federal partners noted this increase includes funding for expansion, quality, COLA, and duration. If you’re interested in Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) and EHS Expansion, keep your eye on our EHS-CCP In Depth blog. OHS staff acknowledged an interest in continuing to fund this initiative in the future.

COVID Relief Funding: During the past year, COVID relief funding was released through three initiatives through three initiatives to Head Start/Early Head Start programs: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, 2020 (CARES), Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) and American Rescue Plan Act, 2021 (ARP). OHS staff urged programs to continue to draw down these funds to support their program, and reminded attendees that the deadlines for spending vary for each grant and depending on a program’s grant cycle. CARES funding, for example, is tied to a program’s grant cycle, while CRRSA and ARP have deadlines of March 31, 2023.

Competitive DRS Grants: As we shared in our DRS Updates blog, the next round of DRS is forecasted for this fall. Grant competitions were scheduled to open for competition earlier this month. OHS representatives indicated that DRS grant competitions will post to later in the fall and forecasts will be updated

Further, OHS staff announced that an interim final rule on DRS decisions is expected soon. This rule will allow OHS to make DRS funding decisions despite limitations to program monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., in the absence of CLASS reviews, which will no longer take place as part of FY22 monitoring).

These funding updates will continue to evolve as the federal budget process moves forward. If new funding for Head Start and child care programs is approved in coming weeks and months, this would be historic. NHSA’s Center on Policy is a great resource to follow for updates on Head Start funding. If we can be helpful as your program prepares for or competes for funding, please contact us.

Thank you.

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