JCPS’ $15 million Head Start grant will stay in the Jefferson County area despite the district’s decision to relinquish the funding, a federal official confirmed Thursday.

All eligible agencies in the Jefferson County service area will be able to apply for the funding, as long as they begin providing Head Start and/or Early Head Start services, an Administration for Children and Families spokesman told Insider.

ACF, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, will post a “funding opportunity announcement” alerting interested agencies that they can now apply for the grant, the spokesman said. A timeline for the announcement or application period wasn’t disclosed.

Applicants will “submit proposals detailing how they would achieve Head Start’s goal of delivering high-quality early childhood services,” the spokesman said. A panel of “trained, unbiased non-federal reviewers” will review the proposals, he said.

Leon Mooneyhan

Only one area agency has publicly signaled that they would be interested in applying for the funding: The Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative. OVEC oversees Head Start programs in eight surrounding counties, including Oldham and Bullitt counties.

OVEC’s chief executive, Leon Mooneyhan, told Insider that “we are still exploring the possibilities.”

Two partners contracted to help with the JCPS Head Start program, Crocus Academy and Shine Early Learning, lost those contracts when the district gave up the funding, resulting in 35 people losing their jobs. Both told Insider they hoped the grant remained in the area so they could continue working with the program and potentially restore those jobs.

The Jefferson County Board of Education voted to give up the grant May 29, instead paying $8 million to move the students into the district’s own childhood program. After months of policy changes, abuse allegations and scrutiny, the district had been told that one more accusation could cause them to lose the grant.

Two days after the vote, the ACF followed up on the district’s progress on a corrective action plan. JCPS failed to correct two of three problem areas, the report said, as it didn’t prevent student abuse and neglect at the hands of teachers and assistants in the program.

Several Head Start staff in the JCPS program were either fired or resigned due to the allegations. None of the remaining staff will be laid off, a JCPS spokeswoman told Insider.