The Board of Education has approved the Public School System’s application for a five-year noncompetitive grant for the CNMI Head Start program for 2014-2015 that would bring in $1.8 million during the first year of operation.
NMI Head Start program director Melissa Palacios told Saipan Tribune that this is a first time for the BOE to apply for the five-year noncompetitive grant in the wake of the 2013 tri-annual review conducted by the federal health agency on the CNMI Head Start program.
The board was approved by Region IX Head Start Office with the authority to administer the Head Start program in the Commonwealth for five more years after it successfully passed a comprehensive assessment in March. Prior to this, PSS would submit grant applications for Head Start funding every year.
Palacios disclosed that for 2014-2015, the program is seeking $1.837 million in funding. This is inclusive of a local share of about $200,000 as well as roughly $90,000 that the federal agency restored from last year’s budget cuts, and the 1.2 percent increase in COLA (cost of living allowance).
“We were recently informed by the regional office that we are included and eligible in the five-year noncompetitive grant application as a result of the great job we did during the 2013 triennial review and our ongoing monitoring on a daily basis,” said Palacios.
Compared to previous applications, the five-year application contains several components that includes long-range goals, program impacts, service delivery, approach to school readiness, budget request, and justifications, among others.
Based on the 72-page grant application approved Monday by the BOE, the $1.8 million it is asking for in the first year will be used for program operation ($1.784 million) and for training and technical assistance ($52,695).
“Funds will allow the program to continue to provide comprehensive and high quality services for school readiness, while operating 28 sessions in 14 classrooms at 10 centers,” states a portion of the application.
Head Start is mandated to serve 462 children each year on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
The BOE indicated three long-term goals: First, it will improve the quality of services to increase support for child outcomes and school readiness to ensure that majority of transitioning children will meet the objectives for kindergarten readiness based on the teaching strategies for kindergarten readiness. Second is to increase physical exercise three times per week in Head Start classrooms and to encourage healthy food choices for Head Start children. Third, it will seek the active engagement of parents and families to participate in program opportunities to support their child’s development and achievement of family goals.