The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 68 percent, which makes this RFP a moderate to substantial risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the establishment or expansion of after-school programs for the Empire State After-School Program (ESAP). Programs should offer a variety of educational, recreational, cultural and age-appropriate activities. “The proposal must integrate what happens in the school day with less formal learning experiences, and must encourage the active participation of children, youth, and families in the design and delivery of program activities.”
The goal of the ESAP is to offer students a number of different services for academic improvement, youth development, drug and violence prevention, counseling, career development, and other enrichment activities. The ESAP also provides a way for students’ families to be engaged in their children’s education.
Please note that the ESAP grant funds can “only be used to supplement, and not supplant, current local expenditures of federal, state or local funds on after-school programs and the number of students served in such programs from such sources.”
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (“OCFS”) is the contracting agency, and the anticipated contract start date is September 1, 2019.
Inadequate Time to Respond
This RFP was released on August 2nd, the proposal deadline is September 6th, and the notification of award is October 4th, but the contract start date is September 1st. This is an unreasonable timeline given that the proposal deadline is after the contract start date. Proposers would be notified of their awards a full month after the contract begins, which either forces them to take on the risk of ramping up and running their programs uncertain of whether or not they will receive the award or waiting and rushing to start their programs which will inevitably be several weeks behind.
There is inadequate time for nonprofits to prepare a high quality response as they are only given five weeks to submit their proposal, with the Labor Day holiday. Providers proposing for programs serving children under the age of 13 are required to obtain a School Age Child Care (SACC) registration and submit it with their proposal. “Programs that require a SACC registration may not begin to provide direct care services until they have that SACC registration in place.” This especially affects nonprofits that are not in SACC compliance already as the process is laborious and takes time. It would be impossible for organizations to comply with SACC regulations in time for a September 1 start, if you have not complied previously. This would also be a risk because “OCFS will not reimburse for any direct care services prior to the date of the SACC registration.”
Proposers are also required to provide a partnership agreement signed by the school district with their proposals. Unless the nonprofit has an existing relationship with an eligible school and the school is already familiar with the program that the nonprofit is providing, it is unreasonable to expect providers to obtain a partnership agreement by the proposal deadline. Proposers would have to not only educate the school about the ESAP, but also obtain approval by the school district, which is a timely process. The insufficient time given to respond to this RFP makes it difficult for newer organizations to competitively apply for this RFP. We understand that the school year begins soon, but proposers should be given more reasonable time to allow for stronger applications, better programs, and the identification of partners.
The ESAP grant funds can only be used to “supplement, and not supplant, current local expenditures of federal, state or local funds on after-school programs and the number of students served in such programs from such sources. For example: an after-school program funded by OCFS that currently has 100 student participants and proposes to serve an additional 50 students will only be allowed funding through this RFP for those additional 50 students.” With the current underfunding of after-school programs and rates of only $1,600 per child, it is not feasible to deliver a high-quality program without supplemental funding. Also, the ESAP grant funds offer the same rate across New York State; however, costs vary widely by geographic area. Rates should take regional differences in costs into account and be adjusted accordingly.
“Funding is currently anticipated to be available for the first year of the contract, and the award of a multi-year contract does not guarantee that funding will be available for subsequent years.” Since funding is only guaranteed for the first year, and providers are paid such a nominal rate, this RFP creates substantial funding uncertainties that must be taken into consideration when applying. If the funding was aligned with actual costs, it would contribute to the sustainability of the organizations applying. The State should work closely with providers to determine what it actually costs to run a successful program and address the gaps in funding.
Indirect Cost Rate Calculation Pilot
We appreciate the State’s efforts to standardize indirect and administrative cost policies across human services agencies; however, there should not be a limit of 15% reimbursement for indirect costs. Nonprofits should be able to claim their full indirect costs.
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 0 percent risk equal to a score of 60 and the maximum risk score or 100 percent 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.