The application deadline for most programs in this round of DRS is just three weeks away. This is a good time to check in on proposal development and what needs to happen between now and submission. Your program might also be identifying ways it can continue to improve its practices after DRS. Let’s take a look at both.
Here are a few tips for how to ensure successful (and on time!) submission of your DRS application.
- Track your appendix items and page limits. At this stage, your program probably has most of the narrative sections in process and has started to compile items for the appendix. Keep a list of appendix items and how many pages are allocated for each. This will help you to prioritize, trim, and cut to make sure you stay within the page limit.
- Conduct a quality assurance review. Before you mark your proposal narrative as final, have someone conduct a quality assurance review. Ask the person to use the evaluation criteria in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to perform a mock review of the proposal and identify areas that can be improved.
- Determine submission responsibilities. We recommend that, to the extent possible, programs submit their DRS applications at least a few business days in advance of the deadline. This allows for any troubleshooting before the official due date. Now is a good time to confirm who will be responsible for uploading files, entering application data, and submitting the proposal.
- Ensure active registrations and start data entry early. Make sure your login credentials to grants.gov are current. Also check to see that you have an active registration with the System for Award Management (SAM). Begin data entry early to avoid any delays.
We’ve heard from programs that by completing a DRS application they have a greater understanding of the support their program needs to ensure successful implementation. These reflections can be valuable for the program moving forward, and also for programs that are preparing for DRS or hoping to avoid DRS in the future.
- Community assessment. In a DRS proposal you will use community assessment data to justify your program design, describe community need, and estimate numbers of eligible children. This data will also help you to refine your program during the grant period. Community assessment is an important tool for DRS readiness as well as continuous program improvement.
- Preparation for a federal monitoring review. Familiarizing staff with the federal monitoring approach and tool can support readiness for the assessment. Conducting a mock review of your program through onsite observations and discussions can help to uncover areas for improvement before your review takes place, allowing time for course correction.
- CLASS. The CLASS condition of DRS might be changing (e.g., removing the 10% lowest score threshold and establishing minimum thresholds), though CLASS will remain a trigger for DRS. If your program is concerned about its CLASS scores, bringing in a certified CLASS observer to assess your program may be a good use of time. You will learn areas that can be improved and how to raise CLASS scores before a formal review takes place.
Foundations for Families provides consulting services that help Head Start/Early Head Start programs assess and improve program quality. We also work with grantees to conduct community assessments and prepare for DRS and submit high-quality, competitive applications for funding. Our services are customized to meet the unique needs of each program. If you are interested to learn how we could help to support your program please be in touch.