The city of Rockford is on the last leg of a five year federal Head Start grant.
The program provides services to children from womb to five years old who live at or below the 100% federal poverty guideline, which is $25,000 a year for a family of four.
"We have to apply for a new five year period," says Human Services Executive Director George Davis. "We are looking at trying to be as creative as possible in meeting the needs of children and their families. At the earliest point we possibly can."
Davis says Head Start is hoping to expand the services it provides to the youngest participants.
"We are hoping to achieve some ability to increase some of the children we're helping birth to three. Relative to the number we serve three to five. Right now we're serving both, and we'll continue to serve both in our proposal but we'd like to shift more to children ages birth to three."
"All the studies show if we can put more emphasis and provide more assistance to families in that zero to three category we can have a greater long lasting impact on the children that we're serving but also the families that we're working with," says Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.
This year there was a snag in the process. The federal government delayed when the applications were available, meaning Rockford's office is rushing to get everything in order.
"Unfortunately this one was delayed six times going back to last summer, before they decided to release it," says Davis. "So now we're in a position where this is down to the wire because they can't delay it any further. We'll have to just give it our best shot and hope for the best."
The city has until the April 9th deadline to finalize its applications.