The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 61 percent.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the operation of year-round Comprehensive After School System of New York City (“COMPASS”) programs for public school students in grades K through 5. COMPASS programs provide academic support, opportunities for physical exercise, and Literacy- or STEM3-focused enrichment activities. The goal of the COMPASS initiative is “promote positive youth development, foster social and emotional skills, and encourage youth leadership through engaging activities that incorporate hands-on learning in safe, welcoming environments.”
The COMPASS initiative is similar and complimentary to the School’s Out New York City (“SONYC”) initiative. The eligible public school sites are listed in an appendix to the RFP. The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (“DYCD”) is the contracting agency, and the anticipated contract start date is July 1, 2019.
Note that HSC also rated the SONYC RFP. The rating can be viewed here.
Reduction in Funding
On its face this RFP reflects an increase in funding relative to previous RFPs. Unfortunately, it results in a decrease relative to recent years. COMPASS funding is based on a price per participant, but since the initial RFP, DYCD has provided cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) to all COMPASS providers. The agency also has increased reimbursement of indirect costs, so for many contracts, the actual funding per participant is greater than it is in the current RFP.
Unnecessarily Burdensome Licensing Requirements
The State requires that all COMPASS awardees comply with the requirements set out in the New York State School Age Child Care (SACC) Regulations. Compliance with these credential requirements is notoriously laborious, so providers should factor in the administrative cost—and potential liability—associated with the requirements. According to Section 390 of the Social Services Law, however, the regulations do not apply to
. . . a program for school-age children conducted during non-school hours, operated by a public school district or by a private school or academy which is providing elementary or secondary education or both in accordance with the compulsory education requirements of the Education Law, provided that such . . . program is located on the premises or campus where the elementary or secondary education is provided.
The SACC regulations are intended to ensure that “day care” programs are safe and deliver positive outcomes. Unfortunately, they regulate even minute details of program operation, imposing requirements that drive up costs and, in some cases, hinder effective program delivery. The requirements can be particularly onerous for small community-based organizations that might otherwise be in the best position to deliver high-quality, localized programs, whether through COMPASS or similar programs.
COMPASS programs are operated by independent nonprofit organizations rather than by schools, which is why they are subject to the SACC regulations, but they are not “day care” programs in the traditional sense. We encourage the State to revisit the SACC regulations as they pertain to programs like COMPASS and consider alternate approaches to safety and quality control that are better suited to these school-based programs. HSC acknowledges that application of the SACC regulations to the COMPASS program is beyond the City’s control.
More Reasonable Time to Respond
This RFP was released on May 10 and has a submission deadline of July 10. Given the requirement of three community partnership agreements and separate applications for each school site, this two-month application period makes good administrative sense.
This RFP requires that providers engage in formalized partnerships with at least three external entities “to provide specific services or other resources that support the program on short or longer-term basis.” Strategic partnerships with reputable community groups can be invaluable in complementing and expanding the reach of school-based programs, and the City is right to encourage them. The administration of successful partnerships takes time, however. In particular, obtaining signatures on Community Partnership Agreement Forms can slow down the proposal process for providers.
Similarly, applying to operate programs at multiple sites takes time. As DYCD has acknowledged, no two schools are alike. Each school operates with different geographic, demographic, and infrastructure challenges and advantages. Thus, providers cannot simply copy and paste their responses into multiple applications. We encourage all City agencies to adopt more reasonable RFP timelines to allow for stronger applications and better programs.
The HSC RFP Rater assesses the feasibility, opportunities, and risk in City and State human services procurements. Rater scores are based on the RFP and related documents available to the public via New York City’s HHS Accelerator or New York State’s Grants Gateway. The rater consists of 60 questions developed and tested by a team of procurement professionals. The questions are based on information that is necessary to help prospective proposers assess risk.
Each answer is weighted based on the degree of risk inherent in the subject of the question. Answers that imply low to moderate risk are allotted points on a lower scale range compared to higher risk questions. For compound questions, the answer to both parts must be “yes” or “not applicable” to be considered low risk. Scores are calculated by adding all the question scores together. The higher the score, the greater the risk. The scoring range is from 60 to 230, with zero percent risk equal to a score of 60 and the maximum risk score or 100% equal to 230 points. Users can view the answer to each question by clicking the down arrow next to each section to expand the section.
The HSC RFP Rater is not a substitute for the due diligence necessary to inform individual organization decisions.