Modesto, CA – After hearing concerns from the Stanislaus County Office of Education (STANCOE) regarding an impending deadline, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) contacted the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ask for flexibility. This year, Stanislaus County’s Head Start programs became eligible for $2.5 million in Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and Quality Improvement funding, but local officials must submit a report regarding how the funding is being used in order to receive the funds from the federal government. This year, the report is due on May 15th, and HHS has declined to modify the deadline despite the fact various other agencies have extended grant deadlines in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic. STANCOE officials worry about their practical ability to meet this deadline given the radical changes to education resulting from the Coronavirus.
“The world has been turned upside down by this pandemic – bureaucrats in Washington need to get with the times,” said Rep. Harder. “STANCOE has to put together this big report, and that’s fine, but they should be given the time they need given the realities of this pandemic. We can’t afford to lose this funding.”
The text of the letter is below and an original version is available here.
Dear Dr. Bergeron,
In light of the disruption caused to the educators who run Head Start programs, I am writing to urge you to provide flexibility with regards to the deadlines and reporting requirements to receive Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and Quality Improvement Funds. The Stanislaus County Superintendent’s office is concerned about meeting the May 15th deadline for this funding given the grave impact that COVID-19 is having on sustaining the quality of alternative modes of education for more than 110,000 K-12 students including the Head Start and early childhood education population served.
The jobs of educators have become exponentially harder over the past few weeks with statewide school closures and students, teachers, and administrators adapting to the new norms. I find it concerning that despite their repeated requests during calls with regional and national offices, no flexibility has been provided to grantees including the Stanislaus County Office of Education while it continues to do its job and maintain your grant schedule. Make no mistake: educators are frontline workers in this crisis, and they need every ounce of our support – not bureaucratic stonewalling.
While we had hoped that the letter from ACF Deputy Ben Goldhaber dated March 30, 2020, was going to provide the needed flexibility under section number four (#4), it appears not to have provided the necessary relief. Grantees have already been provided their funding allocation and guidance on implementing these funds. It would seem in the best interest of programs and governmental functions to follow up with a direct grant notice of award without an application, abbreviate the requirements, or postpone the May 15th deadline.
In light of this pandemic and the unprecedented roadblocks it has and will continue to pose to schools in my District, I urge you to take action to alleviate the undue burden on school districts in this position. I look forward to your response in a timely manner.
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