The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 51 percent, which makes this RFP a moderate risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for Family Enrichment Centers (FEC), which provides “a family-centered, place-based primary prevention model where all of members of the community have access to and may benefit from activities, events, and services (called “offerings”) that strengthen family protective factors to increase well-being and stability.”
The goals of the FECs are “to strengthen family protective factors, build community connections, leadership capacity, and social capital, all of which help strengthen family well-being and stability to reduce family trauma and poverty-driven causes of child welfare involvement. FECs are warm, welcoming, non-stigmatizing environments where community members can find support, resources, and make connections with neighbors.
The New York City Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”) is the contracting agency, and the anticipated contract start date is May 1, 2021.
Inadequate Time to Respond
The RFP was released on October 9th with a proposal submission deadline of November 13th. We encourage ACS to adopt a more reasonable RFP timeline, that includes at least six weeks for proposers to respond, to allow for stronger applications and better programs.
Rigid Funding Requirements
Although FECs are rooted in the community and encouraged to pursue additional funding through community investment, ACS requires that contractors do “not rely on more than $450,000 in ACS-funded expenses per year,” which includes a “maximum of $100,000 per year for rent and utilities,” no additional start-up funding, and the uncertainty of the indirect cost rate initiative. Also, the FEC budget for staff salaries is not competitive, which may impact staff recruitment and retention. With the number of gentrified communities increasing, the rising cost of rent in New York City, and the uncertainties of the economic impacts of COVID-19, we urge ACS to reassess the budget to cover these issues, including a model budget that is designed for better aligning costs.
According to addendum #1, “guidance on FY21 and FY22 indirect costs has not yet been released” and “for the purpose of this RFP, all Proposers should use an indirect cost rate of 10% in their budget calculations, even if they have an accepted rate greater than 10%.” The decision to retroactively cut indirect funding in FY20 and a lack of commitment to pay full indirect rates in FY21 are undermining the sector’s ability to continue to meet the needs of our communities while nonprofits have adapted services to ensure New Yorkers get the resources they need in the face of COVID-19.
We applaud ACS’ efforts in creating an innovative program focused on openness to community-driven activities where all members of the community have access to the offerings in the FEC. We also appreciate ACS in allowing the flexibility to provide a “virtual space” for offerings in case there is a state of emergency that would require the FEC to temporarily close or limit hours. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk of second wave, there are a number of concerns about the overall impact of the FECs and effectively engaging families remotely when there are fears for physical safety and the program model places importance on in-person community building activities. FEC members may get zoom fatigue, not have the technological capability to participate, and parents with children may not have the capacity to fully participate in offerings. As the impacts of COVID are felt throughout the community, they restrict the face-to-face contact with members for more effective community engagement.
In addition, since the “FEC offerings will not include case management or other intensive intervention or support services,” it may be more beneficial for FEC offerings to be integrated into existing beacon sites, settlement houses or DYCD programs, where a number of services are already embedded. This would allow for more robust community connections and social capital, especially during the pandemic where families are experiencing the economic, social, educational and health-related impacts of COVID-19.
Vague Evaluation Process
We support ACS in trying to destigmatize services and make the FEC open to all in the community through an anonymous and voluntary membership tracking system, it is unclear as to how the program will be evaluated without collecting any personal or demographic information. The evaluation report prepared by Youth Studies, Inc. stated that they “do not have the benefit of a significant follow-up period that would allow us to determine whether members, in fact, experience fewer child protective interventions than they would have had they not had access to an FEC.” There should be a pre and post program evaluation methodology in place to measure the success of the FEC and outcomes for all participants and staff, especially learning from the previous evaluation report.
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.