Non-Federal Share Requirements for Head Start Agencies
At the Gravely Group, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about the non-federal share requirements for Head Start agencies.
On the federal Head Start website, it states:
The Head Start Act stipulates that the Federal share of the total costs of the Head Start program will not exceed 80 percent of the total grantee budget unless a waiver has been granted (Head Start Act Section 640(b)). If the grantee agency fails to obtain and document the required 20 percent, or other approved match, a disallowance of Federal funds may be taken. Non-Federal share must meet the same criteria for allowability as other costs incurred and paid with Federal funds.
What this means is that each Head Start agency that receives federal funds must provide at least 20% of their operating costs through in-kind donations or cash. These contributions must be used to support actual operations of a program and be used for expenses that a grantee would otherwise use federal funds for if those funds were available.
Non-federal share is not about “funny money” – these are essential costs to operating a successful Head Start program that are not borne by the federal government. The cost of a operating a program might be either federal or non-federal, but it is always going to be real.
While the requirement has always been there, since the Head Start Act of 2007, enforcement has stepped up. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re meeting your non-federal share requirements and providing adequate documentation. If not, there could be a financial penalty.
One of the most common ways that Head Start agencies meet their share requirements is through in-kind donations of services and equipment. For example:
- A volunteer helped you put a website together or is helping manage social media for the agency
- A company provided free A/V equipment for an event or training
- A group of volunteers donated time and materials to update some of your playground equipment
- A local catering company donated food for your event
As a result of the non-federal share requirement, agencies are forced to think creatively about ways they might procure donated services or goods, or raise cash through grants and fundraising.
For some, however, meeting the share is impossible due to extraordinary circumstances. In those cases, agencies can apply for a waiver.
Waivers for Non-Federal Share – Head Start Act, Section 640(b)(1)-(5)
Waivers may be granted for the following reasons:
- Lack of community resources
- Impact of cost an agency may incur in the early years of the program
- Impact of an unanticipated increase in cost
- Community affected by disaster
- Impact upon the community if the program is discontinued
What about your agency? What are you doing to meet your non-federal share? Leave your comments below.