The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 52 percent, which makes this RFP a moderate risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the Residential Foster Care Services RFP, which seeks to “achieve positive safety, permanency and well-being outcomes for children and families in the foster care system” through residential services. Contractors will provide Residential Foster Care (RFC), which includes the “treatment needs of older youth, actively engage with parents and other permanency resources and facilitate return to family-based settings or achieve permanency,” and/or Specialized Residential Foster Care (SRFC), which includes Rapid Intervention Centers, youth with intellectual and/or development disabilities, youth who are prenatal, postnatal and parenting, youth with problematic sexualized behaviors/sexually-abusive behavior, youth who have been sexually trafficked, and the Supervised Independent Living Program (SILP).
The goals of this program include “safely reducing time to permanency, improving health, mental health and educational outcomes of children in foster care, and implementing services that are fully informed by the experiences and perspectives of youth and parents and which are designed to maximize youth and parent engagement.”
The New York City Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”) is the contracting agency, and the anticipated contract start date is July 1, 2022.
We appreciate the steps that ACS has taken to improve the funding and approach of this program by recognizing that providers have necessary fixed costs to maintain adequate staffing and infrastructure and implementing a new fiscal structure based on the MSAR and actual expenses to keep contractors whole. We also appreciate the workforce enhancement used to support salary increases and case planners and the information that start-up funds may be available from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
We are pleased to see the addition of the Supervision Independent Living Program (SILP), which is a “short-term transitional program for youth who are preparing to leave foster care with the goal of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA).”
Following the reporting requirements and recent lawsuits throughout the state, the rates do not cover the increasing liability insurance costs that providers must cover. We understand that the City is monitoring the impact of these lawsuits, but this becomes an unfunded mandate that providers must pay out of pocket.
Also, the RFP lists higher staff salaries, and we understand that those salaries are a recommendation, but there are concerns about whether the rates are sufficient to cover those salaries and if additional funding is available throughout the length of the contract as cost of living rises, especially in New York City. Even though staff salaries are at the discretion of the provider, human services workers are predominately underpaid. This is a larger systemic issue which affects a workforce that is overwhelmingly female and workers of color. We hope that the City commits to paying equitable wages to contracted human services workers by providing rates that cover the full cost of services, including staff salaries, cost escalators, and a cost-of-living adjustment.
The RFP does not allow providers to use their federally approved NICRA or approved indirect cost rate through the Indirect Cost Rate Initiative because administrative costs are embedded into the MSAR. We understand that ACS is consulting with oversight agencies about the allowability of the ICR. However, providers should be able to use their approved ICR rate since they may have indirect costs that are much higher than the rate provided in the RFP.
In addition, it would be helpful if ACS provided a sample budget, as providers have asked through the addendum, to ensure transparency on how rates were developed and assess what the actual costs are so that providers are paid for those costs, including indirect and competitive salaries. This would support nonprofit sustainability and the success and quality of programs.
ACS has taken significant steps to improve this RFP in both design and salaries for workers. The systemic procurement issues, like the inability to appropriately capture indirect costs and chronically low wages are Citywide issues and we value the work ACS is doing to make improvements where they can.
We understand that anticipated maximum total slots are based on past program utilization; however, providers had hoped that ACS would support a model to distinctly serve youth who have been sexually trafficked or provided more slots as providers report that the number could be greater than the six slots allotted in the RFP.
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.