Whether you’re a current Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) grantee thinking about expanding your approach in Round 2 or a new applicant, developing a strong fiscal strategy is essential to a successful application and a realistic EHS-CCP model.
Fiscal issues can be a major source of non-compliance, create challenges for staff, and might lead to bad program design or challenging implementation. Below are a few items to keep top of mind to help you successfully compete for funding and meet the goals of the EHS-CCP initiative.
Start now (pre-FOA). While you’re waiting for the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to be released, assign someone to develop the budget during the proposal process. Checklists, timelines, and clear roles and responsibilities for review and approvals are a must. Start building your budget templates now, and explore and project all revenue sources.
Communicate with and gather fiscal information from your partners. Talk to your partners about revenue and expenses and make as realistic as possible projections. Understand partners’ fiscal capabilities and how you can assist. Determine strategies to close the cost of quality gap.
Clearly justify all budget items in your proposal. The budget narrative must link to the proposal narrative. Everything you write about must be allowable, allocable, and reasonable. Be sure you are addressing all EHS-CCP goals.
Check and double-check all FOA criteria. Before you submit your proposal have your program staff review budget-related sections of the proposal, and have fiscal staff review the programmatic components. The fiscal and programmatic sections of the proposal should align clearly. Everything discussed in the proposal must be reflected in the budget.
What if you’re an existing EHS-CCP grantee, how can you build upon your Round 1 experience?
Existing EHS-CCP grantees are in a unique position to learn from Round 1 experiences to build a more informed fiscal strategy in Round 2. You will want to highlight the enhancements you made in Round 1 and articulate a commitment to continuous improvement. Think about how your Round 1 strategy is playing out now. Ask yourself questions such as how is the payment rate working for you and your partners? How effective is monitoring based on providers’ ability to run monthly financial reports? You also have an opportunity to reflect on how you arrived at your Round 1 partner projections, and look at that alongside how your partners are doing now. Consider how you can confirm costs to make more accurate estimates. Your ability to reflect on what’s going well and what can be improved will help you develop and implement an even stronger fiscal strategy in Round 2.
Next week we will hold webinar #7 of the weekly webinar series: Did You Know That Child Care Business Practices and EHS Program Operations Have Almost Nothing in Common? You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. Register to join us on Tuesday, March 29, 1:30-2:15pm EST.
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 the first round of EHS-CCP and plan to offer the same expertise for any new opportunities. 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.