CAPLAW’s recent newsletter included an interesting article, Update on Head Start Competition. It referenced a lawsuit that is being brought by the Ohio Head Start Association, the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, and the Massachusetts Association for Community Action against the United States Department of Health and Human Services and Kathleen Sebelius.

The lawsuit aims to stop the implementation of CFR 1307 – the Head Start competition/redesignation regulation. Further, according to CAPLAW, it asks that HHS start over and draft a whole new regulation. (This link to the high level part of the docket is as much as we could find and access at present. We’ll update as we can. Again, we aren’t lawyers and don’t have a subscription to that kind of database.)

According to CAPLAW, the lawsuit is built on these main points:

– The regulations (CFR 1307 final rule) are invalid.

– The regulations shouldn’t be enforced because the new system doesn’t reflect the overt intent of Congress: only grantees NOT providing “high quality” and “comprehensive” services should be required to (re)compete for funding.

– The regulation deviated, without rhyme or reason, from the recommendations of the required expert panel by defining just one deficiency as a trigger.  The retroactive nature of the rule (counting deficiencies going back to June 2009) was and is illegal.

– The regulation did and does not have a rational basis.

– The regulation puts the grantees on the list of 132 at a disadvantage in the (re)competition because they’ve been deemed not of “high quality” in public. (That is probably seen as a problem because the reviewers are going to be selected from the public, in general.)

CAPLAW contends that this may delay the release of the RFPs by a couple of weeks. The RFPS are due, according to the grants forecast, to come out on March 23. As of yet, the District Court of the District of Columbia, Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, hasn’t taken any action.

Our take on the possible delay: maybe, maybe not.  These proposals are huge – don’t count on a delay until it is certain because you really don’t have time to waste.

Thank you.

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If your agency has activated a ‘trigger’ and is facing recompetition – you might want or need guidance. In most cases, we can help you get through this critical period and, if we can’t, we’ll certainly help you find the support you need.

If you are a delegate agency thinking about responding to the upcoming RFP to continue to serve your children and families on your own, but are unsure about grant writing, give us a call.

If you are a community based, solid organization with your heart and management practices in the right place and think could do just as well or better on behalf of young children and their families, we can help you think that through and move forward if you’d like. Call us: 703-299-6570 or email augenblick@foundationsforfamilies.com.

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