The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 61 percent, which makes this RFP a moderate to substantial risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the implementation of Family Child Care Networks services, which provides funding for family child care networks to support their affiliated family child care providers to ensure the delivery of high-quality services. The birth-to-five system of early care and education is being redesigned to be administered through one system by the New York City Department of Education (“DOE”). This includes EarlyLearn NYC at the Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”) and Pre-K for All and 3-K for All at the DOE.
Family child care networks also provide in-person professional sessions for affiliated providers, interdisciplinary instructional resources and family engagement supports, and administrative, budgetary, and enrollment supports. Potential contractors can propose to offer 3-K for All school day and year and extended day and year services through their affiliated family child care providers.
It is important to note that this rating cannot be considered in isolation given the interdependence of the birth to five programs being put forward by the DOE. It is particularly challenging for potential bidders to fully assess the risk level when the RFPs were not released at the same time.
The Family Child Care Networks RFP is complimentary to the Birth-to-Five Services and Head Start/Early Head Start RFPs. Proposers applying for center-based services should apply to either the Birth-to-Five Services RFP or the Head Start/Early Head Start Services RFP as this RFP only solicits proposals for Family Child Care Network services.
DOE is the contracting agency, and the anticipated contract start date is July 1, 2020.
The DOE will provide an advanced payment of 25 percent (3 months) of the full annual contract value within the first month of services. However, since the DOE is using funding from City, State, and federal streams for these programs, there is uncertainty as to the total allocation that will be made for 3-K programs and network administrative costs. Additionally, the daily rates for affiliated providers established by the DOE are less than the market rates provided by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
This RFP places large reporting, compliance and administrative burdens on the Networks and affiliated providers, and lacks the funding levels necessary to support these functions. The DOE expects that Networks will collect and analyze data according to the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) for all participants, participate in quality assessments such as the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) and Environmental Rating Scales (ERS), and other data systems that the DOE has established for this program.
There is also a lack of commitment to prompt payment as the RFP states “Any delay in the contracting process may delay or prevent contract registration and disbursement of payments.” Providers take enormous fiscal and legal risks by signing leases, hiring staff, and starting programs without a contract, or continuing to operate services on the verbal agreement that things will get sorted out. This creates cash flow issues and costs as providers cannot get paid until the contract is registered.
There is a lack of transparency as to the rate setting methodology and how the DOE determined the rates. Due to this stark contrast in current funding levels and real costs, only a commitment to a significant increase in funding now from the DOE would make the funding in the RFP less risky to providers. There should be a sample budget included that lays out the cost expectations of the contract and the DOE should collaborate with providers on the real costs of running programs and meeting deliverables.
Lack of Cost Escalators
This RFP is a five-year contract with up to three one-year extensions, meaning providers could potentially receive the same rate for eight years. Nonprofits struggle to meet rising costs as rates on contracts are not increased from year to year to address an increase in the costs of delivering services. With the current underfunding of early education programs, it is crucial that the DOE include cost escalators in their contracts.
Uncertain Enrollment System
We appreciate the DOE working to streamline enrollment to promote equity and access, but there is a lack of information as to how the DOE will determine eligibility, what the weighting system or evaluation process looks like, and how children will be matched to programs. This is a risk because providers are not allowed to select which children are matched to their programs even though providers know how to best serve their community. Nonprofits should be involved in the evaluation process in some way and help influence the approach to determining which programs children are placed in. DOE has not communicated with providers about what the new enrollment system looks like or how it will affect current processes. The DOE should work with providers to gather feedback on system requirements, enrollment assessment and determination criteria, testing and implementation to ensure a smooth transition to this new enrollment system.
Lack of Program Collaboration
Since the Birth-to-Five Services and Head Start/Early Head Start RFPs and the Family Child Care Networks RFP are complimentary to each other, all three RFPs should have been released and aligned so that providers are able to assess them collectively and propose the best response. There is a lack of coordination between the three RFPs, which makes it challenging for providers to navigate across the programs, consider the inter-relationship between them and determine which programs are best for them.
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.