We are happy to introduce another regular weekly feature: “We were wondering…” This is your opportunity to ask questions and we will respond with an answer, an idea or an opinion. Sometimes we’ll have an answer and you’ll know it’s an answer because we’ll provide a link to the resource, research or data. If we don’t have or can’t find the answer, we’ll be honest about that.  We’ll offer ideas and, as always, invite the community to share their insight or resources. Sometimes, we’ll offer an opinion – our best guess based on our experiences.  We hope you find this feature to be helpful and that you’ll send emails with the words, “we were wondering” in the subject line.

We were wondering…“My agency does child care.  It isn’t Head Start and we don’t take infants and toddlers. I think we could care for infants and toddlers.  Can we apply for the funds?”

That’s a great question! Unfortunately, we don’t have a complete answer.

The incomplete and short answer is YES.  You can apply.  This is the language from ACF’s Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership webpage:

All agencies eligible to apply for Early Head Start funds can apply for Partnership competition grants, including tribes and territories, community organizations, non-profit or for profit organizations, and state and local governments.

It isn’t a complete answer because you can’t apply for partnership funds without a partnership. You are also asking if you can, essentially, be your own partner.  We don’t have an answer but here are some thoughts…

The EHS-Child Care funding opportunity is set up so that the agency that makes the application (writes and submits the response to the, as of yet, unannounced Funding Opportunity Announcement, or FOA) is the agency that becomes the EHS grantee.  The application needs to represent a partnership relationship between the applicant/grantee agency-to-be and the community infant and toddler care provider.

Right now, you are neither of these – you aren’t an EHS grantee and you don’t serve infants and toddlers.  Maybe you could be either one…

Maybe your agency could expand the type of care you provide to include infants and toddlers.  Maybe you have licensable space, qualified staff, the equipment, and funding to provide infant toddler care that complies with your local child care regulations, as well as zoning and business operating laws. That would be great!

Or, maybe your agency has the capacity to be an EHS grantee.  That would mean you have the capacity to (among other things) manage a federal grant, to meet and monitor federal performance standards and other federal regulations, to implement a terrific program that meets the needs of infants, toddlers and their families in your community. That is no small task but, theoretically, you could absolutely do that.

Whether you can do both – be the grantee agency and partner with another part of your agency – is an open question. We need the Office of Head Start to weigh in and offer specific guidance. Next time any of us have the opportunity to ask an official at OHS this question, let’s do it.  It will be most helpful if they answer publicly and in writing.  Also, once the FOAs come out we’ll be given a process, with a point and method of contact, to ask for clarification.  Between now and then, we will share anything we learn.  If you get ahold of something in writing on this matter, please let us know and we’ll share it here.

Thank you for asking a terrific question!


Whether your agency might apply to be an EHS-CC Partnership grantee or your child care program is a solid partnership candidate, there’s a lot to consider.  We can help analyze the opportunity, prepare a competitive grant proposal, or design and implement a high quality 18-month start-up plan.  If we can’t, we will connect you with the right resources to support your efforts.  Give us a call to discuss your situation: 703-599-4329 or [email protected]

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