By Julie Shuell, MPA
Long hours of grant writing and meetings paid off and your agency was awarded a Child Care/EHS Partnership Grant. Having supported grantees with new/expansion awards, we suggest you prioritize the tasks listed below.
- Identify and hire a Start-Up Planner. Hopefully during negotiations with the Regional Office, you negotiated a time between your award and the date you’ll start serving children. During that time, you need a task master completely focused on putting all the implementation pieces together. We suggest they have daily access to decision-makers so they can quickly approve actions and give directions. Have them develop a detailed work plan, assign areas of responsibility and set a schedule of meetings and deadlines. Whether your planner is a consultant or internal staff, they are critical to your program’s success.
- Meet with your child care partners and finalize agreements. Regardless of how far you got while developing the proposal, quickly sit down with partners and discuss next steps. Signing agreements, subcontracts or MOUs must happen quickly so you can begin working together on a daily basis. Make lots of informal contacts, as well, in order to build trust and a positive relationship before getting to the details of implementation.
- Training for your fiscal staff. If you haven’t operated a Head Start or EHS program before, or even if you have, training for agency staff on the reporting, audit and finance procedures related to federal grants is critical. Establishing a mechanism to record expenses allocable to the CC/EHS Partnership grant must happen immediately after you receive your Notice of Award. You will need to draw down funds on a regular basis and have a process that meets audit requirements.
- Issue a press release. Let the community know you and your partners are working together to expand quality child care for low income families. Identify an agency point of contact for questions and inquiries and develop a clear and concise message about your plans.
- Set Professional Development plans in motion. Getting child care staff credentials required by the HS Performance Standards is going to take time. Prioritize setting up a system with local education partners and work with child care centers to enroll teaching staff and begin providing them with support.
Please reach out to Foundations for Families if you need help with your new grant. For a limited time and to a small number of agencies, we are offering a one day, on-site strategy session to help chart your critical path to success. To all agencies, we are offering a comprehensive, multi-day, on-site strategy session to result in a detailed, documented vision for your startup period with timelines and key milestones for an on-time, high quality start-up. This option includes document review prior to the visit and follow-up technical assistance. Foundations for Families is also offering technical support and coaching for success during the implementation of the start-up period. Please call 703-599-4329 or email Amy at Augenblick@foundationsforfamilies.com