The Community Action Partnership of the Greater Dayton Area is announcing that it is making a direct appeal to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius concerning its Head Start program in Preble County. Because of an immediately corrected situation with loose playground tile reported during a performance review, our agency was included in a pool of grantees that were required to compete to continue to provide the Head Start program.
The Partnership has operated the Head Start program in Preble County for 40 years. Proposal review panels were to consider performance for the past five years. For the past ten years the Head Start program in Preble County was by any measure a high performing agency. In areas such as enrollment and community presence it was clearly well beyond the successful bidder. A federal review team evaluating classroom activity under a Head Start system known as CLASS (Classroom Assessment Scoring System) found that the Preble County program was better than the national average except for one dimension in which it was tied.
According to CAP President and CEO Tim Donnellan, “Our loss of the Head Start program represents a serious injustice to our agency and most importantly the people we serve. From the very beginning, the entire process for competition has been flawed. The process is not transparent and the lack of an appeal process does not allow for review or consideration of real error. I have tried to present our case but our concerns have apparently not been considered. The only real recourse we have is through the court system but the cost of taking on the federal government is well beyond our reach. The whole intent of the competition was to eliminate low functioning Head Start grantees. We are not low functioning and low income children and their families are well served by our program
“One of the proudest and most humbling experiences of my career was receiving the Access to Justice Award from Legal Aid of Western Ohio. It is unthinkable that my agency would be denied an access to justice. We cannot just sit this out.”