2013 Designation Renewal System: Analysis of the Winners List

- Katherine Molina-Powell, VP, Training & Business Development

Last week, the Office of Head Start released the list of awardees for the majority of the grants identified for re-competition in the second round of the Designation Renewal System (DRS). Much of what we saw in the inaugural round of DRS was continued this round.

Based on our review of the list, here are a few main takeaways:

  • Few new providers to Head Start: 70% of programs were able to retain full grant funding. This is very similar to last year, when 67% of grantees in competition were able to maintain their full funding. As we saw in the inaugural round of DRS, the vast majority of programs competing to retain federal funding for Head Start and Early Head Start program operations were successful.* By our count, when grants were split, only two large grantees were able to retain partial funding by splitting their grants with existing delegate programs. Although these splits may have implications for staffing and administrative support, this probably indicates a minimal amount of transition and community disruption in the next grant year, and means that families currently served by these programs will likely continue to work with the same people and organizations that they already know. What is important to note is that this percentage is slightly higher than the results from the first round of DRS, which either speaks to a failure to attract qualified new providers into the competitive pool or a strong preference on the part of reviewers and OHS to favor existing grantees and delegate programs. In total, only five awardees were completely new to the Head Start realm.
  • Grants in transition: 19% of competitions resulted in programs fully losing their Head Start and/or Early Head Start funding, with the grant being transitioned to one or more competing programs. In these cases, the overwhelming preference went to existing Head Start providers, with just 1.7% of grants being split between multiple programs and another 1.7% going to brand new providers.
  • No winners / CDI transition: Eleven competitions opened last year were not listed in the results of this round of winners--some of which had since been turned over to CDI, others are simply missing from the list. It is possible that some of these service areas are still in negotiation, but it is just as possible that the next round of DRS-related FOAs will have a few familiar service areas once those grants are formally released.
  • School districts increasing, community action agencies decreasing: Community action agencies represented 56 of the original 121 organizations identified on the 2013 DRS list and only 43 of the 121 grant awards--the providers whose representation decreased the most as a proportion of the overall list. In contrast, regular non-profit organizations decreased only 2%, from 36% of the original DRS list to 34% of last week’s awards list, and school systems increased from 11% of the DRS list to 14% of preliminary winners.
  • Impact on Children: Based on total funded enrollment at programs on the 2013 DRS list, more than 74,000 Head Start Slots were up for competition. Of those, over 46,000 were served by programs that fully retained their grants. By our estimates, more than 15,000 children were served by programs that lost their grant to competitors and another 7,000+ are served by programs that either did not announce a winner or have since transitioned to interim management by CDI. While the hope is that uninterrupted service will continue for most of the children and families affected by this process, there is still substantial transition work to be done.

*The numbers in our analysis are estimates based on a comparison of the service areas for each listed award, compared with the service areas of grantees identified for re-competition in 2013. Several grantees on the 2013 list did not appear on the preliminary list and were not clearly in the "no winner" vs. "grant lost" category. Among these, a handful have since been turned over to interim management by CDI.


What are your thoughts on the second round of awards? Were you surprised by the results? We would love to hear from you.