Head Start Provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act of 2020

By Published On: April 2, 2020

On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, which is aimed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic through over $2 trillion in spending on public health, immediate and direct cash relief for individual citizens, a small business lending program, and targeted relief for certain severely affected industries.  The CARES Act also contains specific measures affecting the Head Start program.

As far as the Head Start program is concerned, the CARES Act included $750,000,000 for making payments under the Head Start Act (including payments for Federal administrative expenses).  The CARES Act specified that those payments are to be “allocated in an amount that bears the same ratio to such portion as the number of enrolled children served by the agency involved bears to the number of enrolled children by all Head Start agencies.”  The CARES Act also requires that none of the funds appropriated are to be included in a Head Start agency’s “base grant” in subsequent fiscal years.

Of the $ 750,000,000 allocated by the CARES Act for Head Start spending, up to $500,000,000 of that amount is to be made available for operating supplemental summer programs through non-competitive grant supplements to existing grantees determined to be the “most ready” to operate such programs as determined by the Office of Head Start.

In addition to the Head Start program, the CARES Act also contains provisions related to the Child Care and Development Block Grant providing that $3,500,000,000 in funding is to remain available through September 30, 2021 to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.  Under the CARES Act, such funds may be used to provide continued payments and assistance to child care providers in the case of decreased enrollment or closures related to the coronavirus and to assure that those providers are able to remain open or re-open as appropriate.

As of now, the Office of Head Start website does not refer to these developments.  The last update provided by the Office of Head Start pertains to the Head Start funding increase for FY 2020 that is further described in Program Instruction ACF-PI-HS-20-02.  We will provide further updates as they become available.


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