In the fall of 2011, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) significantly expanded its accountability provisions with the implementation of the Head Start Designation Renewal System (DRS). The DRS is designed to identify which Head Start and Early Head Start grantees are providing high quality, comprehensive services to the children and families in their communities. Where they are not, grantees are denied automatic renewal of their grant and must apply for continuing funding through an open competition process. Determinations are based on seven conditions designed to measure service quality, program operational quality, and fiscal and internal integrity.
The ACF is proposing to conduct an evaluation of the DRS. The purpose of the evaluation is to understand if the DRS is working as intended, as a valid, reliable, and transparent method for identifying high-quality programs that can receive continuing five-year grants without competition and as a system that encourages overall program quality improvement. It also seeks to understand how the system is working, the circumstances in which it works more or less well, and the contextual, demographic, and program factors and program actions associated with how well the system is working. The study will employ a mixed-methods design that integrates and layers administrative and secondary data sources, observational measures, and interviews to develop a rich knowledge base about what the DRS accomplishes and how it does so.
Source: Federal Register Volume 78, Number 158