Last month, we shared a blog post that reflected on the long-term outcomes of the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) grant program. Now that we’ve spent some time digging deeper into fiscal aspects of the grant program, consider, do your program goals (either from Round 1 or in in your Round 2 proposal) flow from the over-arching EHS-CCP project goals? We believe strongly they should. So, what does that mean for fiscal goals in particular? In order for your EHS-CCP project to be sustainable, your child care partners have to stay in business. That’s actually pretty hard to do. Without good fiscal and business practices the more likely it is that the very programs that are trying to achieve higher quality actually fail. However, if by partnering with you (the grantee), the community-based child care partner can stay in business while reaching higher levels of quality, you will be achieving the overarching Goal 3 of EHS-CCP: increased community supply of high-quality early learning environments and infant/toddler care and education. What could that look like through a fiscal lens?
One of our clients adopted EHS-CCP Goal 3 to be their own. An example of an objective in Year 1, the first of five years of funding, is that the 12-month average revenue maximization across all partners will be 75%. (By the end of the five-year grant period, the average will be at 95% revenue maximization.) What does that mean? It means that each partner figures out the potential amount of revenue from each of its revenue sources (e.g., CACFP reimbursements, subsidy, QRIS), including that from you, the grantee. For this objective, partners are focused on documenting how much they collect each month from each revenue source and making sure they get as much as possible from each source.
What does it mean to not maximize revenue? Suppose a toddler wakes up from nap and is hungry and gets a snack. But, that toddler isn’t in the program long enough to reimburse for the second snack of the day. In this situation, the revenue is not being maximized and there is an associated cost. Or, what if that child usually stays for 6.5 hours per day but a full-day subsidy rate doesn’t kick in until 7 hours? With another 30 minutes of any number of the language rich, developmentally appropriate activities offered by the program for the child, the program would be able to get the full day subsidy rate. That is revenue maximization! Over time, partner staff will become increasingly competent in producing documentation and managing the fiscal and business aspects of their center as a whole. EHS-CCP goals need to be agreed upon by the grantee and the partner. By setting a couple of fiscal goals – each with many objectives – the grantee and partner agree to the philosophy of their effort and the mechanics that will make their combined success possible.
It is generally understood that some center and family child care staff lack important business and financial skills or administrative and management infrastructure to meet EHS-CCP project expectations. Many child care centers are small businesses and most child care center directors are responsible for many of the administrative, management and fiscal tasks in the center. They might not have business or fiscal training, and EHS grantees may not be positioned to provide the necessary expertise and technical assistance to their partners because they have been operating in a completely different framework.
How can you address this issue? First, you need to identify the fiscal and business skills and capacities that your child care partners need to be financially healthy centers. Second, take an honest assessment of your grantee staff. Answer questions such as, who has ever managed a private, for-profit business? Has anyone operated private child care successfully? Who knows how to manage a payroll process? These are just a few of the questions you might consider.
Once you assess your partners’ needs and skills of your grantee staff, we recommend developing a targeted, real-time, professional development plan and resources that your partner can take advantage of when needed. Foundations for Families has helped to shape many fiscal and business capacity building strategies for EHS-CCP Round 1 grantees. This should be a key start up activity, as the building blocks of these activities begin in the early stages of contracting and partnership discussions.
Foundations for Families offers EHS-CCP grantees targeted technical assistance and strength-based coaching of key start-up staff. We have helped multiple organizations design, plan for, and draft successful proposals for EHS-CCP. Please be in touch with Amy Augenblick, Executive Director, at 703-599-4329 or Augenblick@foundationsforfamilies.com to learn about how we can support you and your program.
Our organization benefitted from the diverse expertise that each member of the team offers. Amy Augenblick made sure we had a sound proposal for working together and provided support throughout the process. Julie Shuell helped us understand how to maximize child care subsidies. Clare Siegel brought expertise in serving infants and toddlers and developing program plans. As our primary consultant, you provided support from A – Z – forming our grant collaborative, selecting partners, developing a staffing plan, creating a classroom and overall budget, strategic planning, organizing policies and procedures, and much more. Our Early Head Start programs and partnerships are stronger as a result of the work you and your team did with our organization and partners.
Kristi Hannan, Head Start Director
Lucas County Family Council, Toledo, Ohio