Foundations for Families’ Six Pillars for EHS-CCP Fiscal Success provides a strong foundation to help you achieve the overarching goals of the EHS-CCP initiative. Today, we’ll look closer at the six pillars. The pillars are not linear; rather, they work together and are mutually reinforcing.
Pillar 1. Establish five-year unique EHS-CCP fiscal goals, objectives, and strategies. Have you established fiscal goals for your project? Remember, as a part of the FY2017 EHS-CCP monitoring partners will be interviewed as well. The more they know about the why and how of their finances, in addition to the what and when, the more comfortable they will be having those conversations. It is important to develop these goals collaboratively between the grantee and child care partners. Below are steps you can take to strengthen the first pillar.
- Start with a discussion of the vision and mission between grantee and child care partners. Be sure to share what’s in it for the partners – e.g., fostering financial health for partners, whole center/home benefits from quality raising objectives.
- Conduct a fiscal assessment to assess fiscal strengths, challenges, and conditions impacting expectations and sustainability.
- Align program goals with fiscal goals.
- Develop strategies and resources to support long and short range goals/objectives.
- Define fiscal professional development, coaching, technical expertise, and resources.
- Record results in an overall five-year fiscal road map. Your road map may have a couple of fiscal goals, many objectives, and even more strategies to help you achieve your goal.
Pillar 2. Design with child care partners a cost model for center/family homes and EHS classrooms. An important question to ask is, can the EHS-CCP grantee show that funding is sufficient for child care partners to provide services for all enrolled children? This is not an easy exercise but one that we have used with EHS-CCP Round 1 grantees and Round 2 applicants. It involves developing a detailed budget based on data you get from your partners, and some best estimates about what it will take for a partner site to achieve a HSPPS level of quality. Check out our recent post, Will your Child Care Partner Payments Cover the Cost of EHS Quality? for guidance in this area.
Pillar 3. Determine a payment rate, performance incentives, terms and conditions and codify with a written agreement. This pillar relates to both pillars 2 and 4. EHS-CCP monitoring reviewers will look to answer some of the most fundamental fiscal questions – Can the EHS-CCP grantee show that funding is sufficient for child care partners to provide services for all enrolled children? And, can the grantee show that a fair payment rate was developed in partnership? Your evidence that the payment rate is fair is based on your cost model analysis and involvement of the partners and it is documented in your written agreement (i.e. contract) between you and each child care partner. The CCP budget must be aligned with responsibilities that then justifies the payment rate.
Pillar 4. Establish fiscal management and accountability processes to support the fiscal approach. This process should confirm that all contracted services are completed at a reasonable cost, adequately documented, and paid in a timely manner. You’ll need to be able to answer what type, frequency, and quality of any fiscal training is provided to child care partners. Be sure you can answer the question, how did you decide on that approach to building capacity?
For an example, let’s look at information sharing. EHS-CCP monitoring reviewers will want to know how your fiscal approach is shared with Governing Body, Policy Council and child care partners. How often are you communicating with these groups, and through what methods so that they understand all aspects of the fiscal strategy and objectives – including the complexities, methods, and, ultimately, the performance. How do you involve these groups in approval of fiscal changes? Ensure you are able to articulate why.
Pillar 5. Capacity building for grantee and child care partners to support fulfillment of financial objectives. Using results from your fiscal assessment, you will build supports into your plan. Identify fiscal and business skills and capacities to manage the contract requirements and meet the fiscal goals and objectives. From there, we recommend developing training and technical assistance plans and resources tailored for each child care partner and staff member. You will also acquire resources (e.g., computers, software, book keeper services) to ensure goals are met.
Pillar 6. Shared service options to closer the remaining cost quality gap. Shared services is a growing approach to early care and education management. Essentially, centers share business and professional development functions by creating back-office alliances. You might consider centralizing key functions (e.g., sharing bookkeeper) or sharing discounted supplies, for example. This approach will help you to save dollars, strengthen management capacity, improve early learning and, ultimately, ensure sustainable, high quality programs.
If there are certain pillars – or areas within the pillars – where additional information or guidance would be helpful, please feel free to be in touch. We have extensive expertise in these areas and consultants experienced working with a ride range of Head Start and Early Head Start programs to establish and achieve fiscal goals.
As you’re thinking about next steps, if you were funded in Round 1, you have an opportunity to examine these pillars in your own program and reflect. What is going well? What is still a challenge? For your long-term success and peace of mind, consider revisiting and revamping your fiscal approach. For many of you, it is also a really good idea to prepare for (or respond to?) your monitoring visit.
If you applied for Round 2 funding, depending on what you proposed to do, you might also want to take this opportunity to take another look at your fiscal approach and be sure that what you are doing lines up with the six pillars. We strongly recommend weaving the EHS-CCP monitoring tool into your start up activities.
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 [email protected] to learn about how we can support you and your program.
After participating in Linda Dunphy’s Region IV trainings on Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships we contracted with Foundations for Families immediately to assist with start up guidance for our new EHS-CCP. Foundations for Families on-site expertise proved highly valuable in setting a sensible direction with our child care partnerships via the contract, relationship and fiscal strategies. We are still reaping the benefit of their recommendations as we move into our second year.
Dr. Pamela Thomas, Director
Sonya Myers, Ph.D. Early Childhood Research & Data Manager
Picayune School District Early Head Start, Picayune, Mississippi