The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 53 percent, which makes this RFP a moderate risk for applicants.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for School-Based Early Support, formerly known as ACS Beacon Prevention, was redesigned to partner with schools to connect families with the support and services they need before a call is made to the SCR. “Through the redesign, ACS intends to offer families a menu of flexible service options that strive to connect families to community resources through case management, address families’ concrete needs, support parents/caregivers, and avoid unnecessary investigations.”
The goal of the RFP is to provide families with concrete support, family and student school engagement, caregiver self-efficacy, social connections, and student social emotional learning.
The New York City Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”) is the contracting agency, and the anticipated contract start date is July 1, 2024.
Inadequate Time to Respond
Although ACS provided a one-week extension to the proposal submission deadline, the RFP was released during the summer when schools are on summer break making it extremely challenging for contractors to connect with schools. It is difficult for providers to submit their best proposals if they cannot meet with school staff for a school-based program. Many schools are focused on starting schools and running their operations and do not have time to invest in meeting with providers about this RFP. Also, ACS released two Prevention RFPs with due dates within two weeks of each other. This becomes a deterrent to competition, as providers have limited time and resources to respond to both solicitations.
We applaud ACS for responding to what families and communities have been asking for, which is to partner with schools to provide families with concrete support before leading to an SCR call. However, it is important that the RFP includes training and support for teachers and school staff to reduce SCR calls made by schools. There is a lack of engagement, trust building, and education for schools to truly create a robust and sustainable program that would support the goal of reducing unnecessary SCR calls.
Although the RFP is more robustly funded than previous beacon prevention programs, there are still concerns about whether the rates are sufficient to provide a high-quality program. 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.
We thank ACS for acknowledging that funding needs may change because of increases in rent, insurance, and taxes; however, this RFP is a three-year contract with up to two three-year extensions. Unless the RFP states that funding for cost escalators and cost-of-living adjustments will be included, nonprofits continue to 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.
The RFP requires contractors to operate a site in the catchment area proposed in addition to maintaining a presence in schools. This is an additional financial burden on providers as they look for space to provide services to families. With the rising cost of rent and other operational expenses, providers are at a deficit in funding if they cannot find space in schools.
The cost for training, consulting services, and ongoing support from model developers could make an astronomical difference in financial burden on providers depending on negotiations with the model developers and how much training each organization needs. This is another administrative cost that providers may incur, which especially affects those organizations that are unfamiliar with these program models and model developers.
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 competitive salaries. This would support nonprofit sustainability and the success and quality of 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 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.