A New Service from The Gravely Group: Enrollment Reduction/Conversion Application Proposals
Since the start of the 2021-2022 program year, Head Start has required that grantees return to full enrollment. In a blog we wrote at the time, we posed the question, “does your program have a solid ERSEA strategy to rebuild awareness and rekindle connections for the upcoming year?” Head Start programs were facing challenges getting children to return to programs:
“[Grantees] have found that many parents have already made other arrangements, or, as we’ve seen, one parent is now at home full-time after job loss or voluntary resignation. As a result, some programs are facing low enrollment and are struggling to fill open slots.”
Sometimes, a Head Start agency may find that they need to reduce the number of enrollment slots that they provide, or convert those slots from Head Start to Early Head Start in order to comply with the full enrollment directive. The reasons for this can vary, from reduced local demand, to natural disasters, or yes, a global pandemic. No matter the reason, Head Start has a process for allowing grantees to submit proposals asking to reduce or convert their enrollment slots. And depending on the cause of the change in enrollment, grantees might be able to do this without a change to their level of funding.
Section 640(3)(A) of the Head Start Act states that “a Head Start agency may negotiate with the Secretary a reduced funded enrollment level without a reduction in the amount of the grant received… if such agency can reasonably demonstrate that such reduced funded enrollment level is necessary to maintain the quality of services.”
In an Information Memorandum (IM) posted in November 2022, the Office of Head Start (OHS) goes into detail on the process of submitting what they call a “change in scope request.”
“A request to reduce funded enrollment or convert Head Start slots to Early Head Start slots is considered a change in scope request and requires OHS prior approval,” the IM states. “Recipients may submit a change in scope request through a continuation application or as a separate application amendment in the Head Start Enterprise System (HSES). Change in scope requests must be submitted a minimum of 90 days prior to the planned implementation date.”
The IM goes on to state that grantees may request enrollment reductions or slot conversions for a variety of reasons, including:
- A decrease in the number of eligible children in the service area.
- A lack of sufficient staff to provide services to all eligible children.
- A change in the program’s focus or mission.
To request an enrollment reduction or slot conversion, grantees must submit a written request to their regional OHS office. The request must include:
- The number of slots that the grantee is requesting to reduce or convert.
- The reason for the request.
- A plan for how the grantee will ensure that all eligible children in the service area continue to have access to high-quality early childhood education and comprehensive services.
OHS says that it will review all requests and make a decision on whether to approve or deny the request. If the request is approved, OHS will work with the grantee to develop a plan for implementing the enrollment reduction or slot conversion.
In order for a program to maintain their funding and serve their community to the best of their ability, it is important to have a professional who can guide you through the process. Contact The Gravely Group for more information on our enrollment reduction and conversion services.