45 CFR 1302.24 - Locally-designed program option variations.
(a)Waiver option. Programs may request to operate a locally-designed program option, including a combination of program options, to better meet the unique needs of their communities or to demonstrate or test alternative approaches for providing program services. In order to operate a locally-designed program option, programs must seek a waiver as described in this section and must deliver the full range of services, consistent with § 1302.20(b), and demonstrate how any change to their program design is consistent with achieving program goals in subpart J of this part.
(b)Request for approval. A program's request to operate a locally-designed variation may be approved by the responsible HHS official through the end of a program's current grant or, if the request is submitted through a grant application for an upcoming project period, for the project period of the new award. Such approval may be revoked based on progress toward program goals as described in § 1302.102 and monitoring as described in § 1304.2.
(1) The responsible HHS official may waive one or more of the requirements contained in § 1302.21(b), (c)(1)(i), and (c)(2)(iii) and (iv); § 1302.22(a) through (c); and § 1302.23(b) and (c), but may not waive ratios or group size for children under 24 months. Center-based locally-designed options must meet the minimums described in section 640(k)(1) of the Act for center-based programs.
(2) If the responsible HHS official determines a waiver of group size for center-based services would better meet the needs of children and families in a community, the group size may not exceed the limits below:
(i) A group that serves children 24 to 36 months of age must have no more than ten children; and,
(ii) A group that serves predominantly three-year-old children must have no more than twenty children; and,
(iii) A group that serves predominantly four-year-old children must have no more than twenty-four children.
(3) If the responsible HHS official approves a waiver to allow a program to operate below the minimums described in § 1302.21(c)(2)(iii) or (iv), a program must meet the requirements described in § 1302.21(c)(2)(i), or in the case of a double session variation, a program must meet the requirements described in § 1302.21(c)(2)(ii).
(4) In order to receive a waiver under this section, a program must provide supporting evidence that demonstrates the locally-designed variation effectively supports appropriate development and progress in children's early learning outcomes.
(5) In order to receive a waiver of service duration, a program must meet the requirement in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, provide supporting evidence that it better meets the needs of parents than the applicable service duration minimums described in § 1302.21(c)(1) and (c)(2)(iii) and (iv), § 1302.22(c), or § 1302.23(c), and assess the effectiveness of the variation in supporting appropriate development and progress in children's early learning outcomes.
(d)Transition from previously approved program options. If, before November 7, 2016, a program was approved to operate a program option that is no longer allowable under §§ 1302.21 through 1302.23, a program may continue to operate that model until July 31, 2018.