After hearing concerns from the Stanislaus County Office of Education (STANCOE) regarding an impending deadline, Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) contacted the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ask for flexibility. This year, Stanislaus County’s Head Start programs became eligible for $2.5 million in Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and Quality Improvement funding, but local officials must submit a report regarding how the funding is being used in order to receive the funds from the federal government. This year, the report is due on May 15, and HHS has declined to modify the deadline despite the fact various other agencies have extended grant deadlines in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic. County education officials have expressed their concern about their practical ability to meet this deadline given the radical changes to education resulting from the Coronavirus.
“The world has been turned upside down by this pandemic – bureaucrats in Washington need to get with the times,” said Rep. Harder. “STANCOE has to put together this big report, and that’s fine, but they should be given the time they need given the realities of this pandemic. We can’t afford to lose this funding.”
In a letter detailing the issue, Harder noted that “The Stanislaus County Superintendent’s office is concerned about meeting the May 15th deadline for this funding given the grave impact that COVID-19 is having on sustaining the quality of alternative modes of education for more than 110,000 K-12 students including the Head Start and early childhood education population served.”
Harder also said that “the jobs of educators have become exponentially harder over the past few weeks” considering the statewide school closures with students, teachers, and administrators all having to adapt to what have become the new norms.
“I find it concerning that despite their repeated requests during calls with regional and national offices, no flexibility has been provided to grantees including the Stanislaus County Office of Education while it continues to do its job and maintain your grant schedule,” Harder wrote in seeking an extension. “Make no mistake: educators are frontline workers in this crisis, and they need every ounce of our support – not bureaucratic stonewalling.”