When you receive your Notice of Award for a Round 2 Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) grant make sure you are ready with the tools you need to select and finalize your child care partners. You most likely described your “partner selection protocol” in your Round 2 proposal. We recommend you go back and take a look at that now that some time has passed. Ask yourself, is the protocol thorough enough to guide the very important decisions of selecting partners? Remember, you are assessing potential child care partners to make an informed decision, and potential child care partners are making an assessment of their own. Potential child care partners will need to consider if they are committed to the partnership’s high expectations for program quality and service delivery and the impact that may have not only on EHS-CCP classrooms but the entire center/home.
Foundations for Families developed two tools that have been used by Round 1 and Round 2 EHS-CCP clients, A Child Care Partner Center Selection Protocol, and Partner Selection Interview Questionnaire. These tools walk you through key selection criteria and EHS standards to provide for a structured and thorough conversation with potential child care partners. Below are a few (of the many!) key elements to consider including in your selection protocol. This assumes initial conversations with prospective child care partners took place prior to the submission of your Round 2 proposal. It also assumes that your program design and performance objectives have been decided upon and fiscal aspects have been determined.
- Invitational informational meetings are held for all prospective child care partners.
- Key information is reviewed with potential child care partners, including minimum required criteria and a sample contract, health/safety/environmental/facility criteria, fiscal capacities, and the application and selection process.
- Applications for new child care partners are solicited and submitted, and include a facilities assessment and projections for renovations.
- A selection team of experienced EHS and early child care experts review and score applications.
- Onsite visits are made to top scoring sites and include experts in early learning classrooms and facilities.
- Discussions are held and assessments are completed with potential child care partners to determine their suitability for EHS-CCP. Discussions are based on EHS-CCP criteria and expectations, including start-up needs.
- Grantee makes decisions to select child care partners and offers are made.
- Contracts are signed between grantee and EHS-CCP child care partners.
- A meeting between the grantee and each child care partner is held to launch start-up activities.
If you’ve preliminarily selected your Round 2 child care partners, we still recommend a formal approach to final selection. Months will have passed since you and potential child care partners were preparing for the grant submission. Use a protocol that will help to ensure you’re selecting strong partners that are committed to your model. Alternatively, if you are an existing Round 1 grantee, you might be expanding capacity in your current child care partners’ sites. Assuming smooth partnerships under your Round 1 grant, “selection” of your Round 2 partners will likely require less formal protocol.
One other area you we recommend you are mindful of as you finalize your child care partners is ensuring that you are aligning with your agency procurement rules. You will also want to establish how the contract will be classified under the new Federal Uniform Grant Guidance (UGG) standards. Will child care partners be a “sub-recipient” or “contractor”? The nature of child care partners’ services to EHS-CCP grantees don’t fit neatly into either category – it is more of a hybrid. We recommend treating child care partners as a “contractor” under the UGG definition, but with a few of the expectations of a sub-recipient. We see great value in the grantee explicitly covering the terms, conditions and expectations of participating in EHS-CCP, including fiscal accountability. Simple agreements will be insufficient to cover the many detailed expectations of EHS-CCP. It will be better to be exceedingly clear in your communication and agreements as you begin on a long term, legally binding relationship with your child care partners.
Selection of child care partners is one of the most significant decisions during your start up period. To ensure you set yourself on the right track, we strongly recommend getting a seasoned start-up planner. Start-up planners who have assisted Round 1 grantees should be top priority, as they will have the expertise and know-how to help you avoid costly mistakes and setbacks. Foundations for Families staff have helped Round 1 EHS-CCP grantees through the start-up period, and we would be glad to assist you as you navigate the detailed (and sometimes overwhelming) start up period. Please be in touch if you are interested to learn how we can help to minimize start-up related stress and allow your program and staff’s strengths to be central to a successful process.
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.
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