The Toledo Board of Education signed today to a joint bid with other community agencies for the local Head Start grant.
For decades, the federally funded program was administered by the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo. The $13 million grant was one of dozens the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services initially put up for competition in 2011. Toledo Public Schools submitted its own bid during that competition, but none of the bids, including those from EOPA and TPS, was selected.
A Denver firm took over the program in Lucas County on July 1 and will run Head Start until HHS selects a new grant winner in a fresh competition announced earlier this year.
Several community leaders had advocated for a collaborative bid to bring the grant back under local control, combining the efforts of numerous Toledo agencies. The effort to combine forces was led by the Toledo Community Foundation.
Representatives have met over recent weeks to develop a format for a bid; that format appears to have been developed.
Under the arrangement approved by the school board, TPS would be the lead agency, and delegate agencies would be the Lucas County Family Council and the WSOS community action agency, which administers Head Start and Early Head Start in Wood, Sandusky, Seneca, and Ottawa counties.
The federal government announced in late August that Toledo would be part of a national pilot initiative, expanding its local Head Start program to offer services for children from birth through age 5. That announcement also extended the deadline to apply for the grant.
The school district would coordinate a citywide Head Start program in Toledo. The Family Council would be in charge of birth to age three programming, while WSOS would handle Head Start efforts in outlying Lucas County communities.
School board members expressed concern that the birth to five initiative will cause less students to be served, though with possibly more intensive programming. Superintendent Romules Durant said that the development of a quality program could lead to further grants, allowing a larger enrollment.
The Head Start collaborative included TPS, WSOS, Family Council, the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo, the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, and EOPA. Mr. Durant said all would have roles in the Head Start grant, and there would be further partnerships.
The collaborative will announce its plans at a 10 a.m. news conference today at the main Toledo-Lucas County Library downtown.