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Head Start Announces Awardees in First-Ever Grant Competition

The Office of Head Start has released its long-awaited final list of entities that have been awarded federal funds after the agency's first-ever grant competition among low-performing grantees.

Many of the 153 grantees—which include large entities such as the Los Angeles County Office of Education and the New York City Administration for Children's Services—have been previous Head Start providers, either directly or through federal funds that were funneled through another agency.

The Office of Head Start announced in April that of the first wave of 125 grantees asked to recompete for their funding, 80 would continue to get their full grants, and 14 would have their grant money split among multiple recipients. Only 25 were slated to lose their grant.

However, the agency had said it would wait until July to name the "winners" because it still had to negotiate details around how much money would be distributed and how much each grantee would receive.

The grant competition program was intended to introduce new blood into the Head Start system. But in an interview for a previous story, Head Start Director Yvette Sanchez Fuentes said this was an element that the federal agency planned to improve through more aggressive outreach to community groups.

The newly named grant recipients will be funded under a system that has changed markedly from the time the program was first introduced in the 1960s. At that time, grants were awarded for indefinite periods, though the federal government has always had the authority to yank an organization's grant if there was evidence of poor leadership or money mismanagement.

Now, grants will only be given in five-year increments, which the agency says will allow better oversight and improved outcomes for children and families. Head Start and Early Head start together served about 1 million children and families in fiscal 2012, but automatic federal budget cuts under what's known as sequestration will force some centers to reduce their enrollment.

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