Early Childhood Integrated Financing Toolkit

Frequently Asked Questions

All children birth to five have a wide range of needs: they need food and shelter; they need care while parents are working; their learning and development needs to be supported; and they need to be kept healthy. Additionally, many children have more specific needs, such as developmental delays or disabilities, home languages other than English; or need additional support in English language acquisition. To this end, a range of publicly-funded early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs have been established over many years by the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Virginia has the opportunity to engage in a thoughtful review and planning for the utilization of public resources for children birth-5. An especially relevant resource for this review is Virginia’s experiences with the community pilots and activities funded through the federal Preschool Development Grant (PDG B-5). While PDG B-5 communities are required to engage in this process, every community in Virginia can benefit from consideration of the strategies and activities.
Communities have the opportunity and motivation to convene early childhood stakeholders to:
Review the information in the Integrated Financing (IF) Toolkit to gain an understanding about the myriad of
ECCE programs and funding streams available to serve children ages birth to five and their families
Identify and review relevant data about the local community gathered from a variety of sources
Identify community strengths and opportunities to more effectively utilize all available resources
Develop and implement action steps to improve the coordination and utilization of ECCE resources.


The Integrated Financing Self-Assessment tool will lead your group through a series of questions designed to increase your understanding of the need for early childhood services and the current supply of those services in your community. Using relevant data and the IF Toolkit, you will be able to begin identifying opportunities to address the gap between need and available resources.
Please note that this self-assessment builds on and is modeled after the Coordinated Enrollment Self-Assessment tool and process that PDG B-5 pilots have been required to conduct. Non-PDG B-5 communities may access the Coordinated Enrollment Self-Assessment tool for their own use at http://smartbeginnings.org/virginia-early-childhood-integrated-financing/. Enrollment and financing are deeply interconnected and communities are encouraged to think comprehensively about how these processes are governed, planned for and implemented at the local level.


General Questions

1) What is the purpose of the Integrated Financing Self-Assessment Tool?
The IF Self-Assessment tool and process are meant to increase ECCE stakeholders’ understanding of programs and funding available to serve young children, birth to 5; and to promote community collaboration around the optimal use of these resources.  This work begins by developing a shared vision for comprehensive services to meet the needs of children and families in your community.


2) Why is my community being asked to participate?
Children and families in communities across Virginia will benefit when decision makers in their communities gather and use data about the ECCE resources available to them in order to provide the greatest possible access to high quality ECCE. Communities that currently operate a Mixed Delivery Preschool Grant program initiative may find these strategies especially helpful as they work to combine private and public funding to support high quality preschool.
PDG B-5 communities have been charged with helping Virginia identify the current needs and opportunities for improving services to children and families across the state. While the PDG B-5 Needs Assessment documents that Virginia has physical capacity across its various ECCE programs to serve 75% of children birth to age five, there is significant disconnect (in available financing, age/socioeconomic status eligibility, location/geography) between those seats and children needing to be served. Integrated financing strategies can significantly and positively impact the delivery of services to young children. Your community is invited to participate in order for your providers, families, and young children to benefit from insights learned through this process.


3) What is my community being asked to do?
Communities are invited to convene early childhood and community stakeholders to collaborate on reviewing and discussing the information and data made available through this initiative. Using the questions in the IF Self-Assessment Tool, along with the relevant sources of data and information, groups will be asked to identify significant gaps in needed services and strategize first steps to address these gaps. No community is required to pursue this effort, but will be supported with technical assistance and relevant resources if you choose to do so.


4) What if we are not able to answer all the questions in the Self-Assessment tool?
We recognize that this process is new to most communities and that data may not be readily available especially at the outset. Communities may find missing data elements or may need to build deeper, trusting relationships with ECCE colleagues in order to facilitate unfettered sharing of information about funding and services. We anticipate that the IF Self-Assessment Tool will be the first important step in a process that will engage ECCE stakeholders in building a vision of what is possible when communities work together to make data-informed decisions about the delivery of ECCE services.


5) Where can I find more information about Integrated Financing?
a. More information about Integrated Financing can be found here 
b. For more information about Virginia’s PDG B-5 grant, visit the PDG B-5 website.

Logistical Considerations

6) Who would be responsible for organizing this collaboration?
a. Your PDG B-5, Mixed Delivery, and/or Smart Beginnings Lead – or someone they designate – would be well-positioned to convene and facilitate the collaboration.
b. Meetings of the collaborative should be scheduled at times convenient for the multiple provider types in the community. At the convening, attendees should decide on a facilitator who will run the discussions and compile attendees’ responses on the self-assessment tool.
c. Collaborative members should decide how they will determine the best answers for the questions presented. A consensus approach is recommended.
d. Collaborative members should also discuss the timing and frequency of future meetings to monitor progress of the action steps identified in the assessment tool.


7) Who should be included in this collaborative?
a. Communities should include as many early childhood providers and relevant stakeholders as possible in these sessions. At minimum, communities should ensure that at least one representative from each of the following groups are present:
i. Family day home director/owner
ii. Private child care director (including faith-based program leader)
iii. Head Start director/regional coordinator (if applicable)
iv. School-based (e.g. VPI) principal or coordinator
v. Early childhood special education program representative (from the schools)
vi. Local Community Service Board representative familiar with Early Intervention services for children 0-3
vii. Local Department of Social Services (LDSS) representative – familiar with the intake and eligibility determination
process for child care subsidy
viii.Local philanthropy (especially if local entities – such as the United Way – fund early childhood programs
or services)
b. Additionally, communities may wish to include community partners such as family advocates or pediatricians, among others.


8) Is my community allowed to spend PDG B-5, Smart Beginnings, Mixed Delivery funds to support this effort?
a. The general PDG B-5 guidance on allowable food and travel expenditures applies to Coordinated Enrollment and Integrated Financing sessions. In short, communities should not use funds to purchase food unless doing so is necessary to accomplish meeting business. Any food and travel costs must comply with GSA rates. Questions about the use of funds should be sent to Lucy Mitzner (lucy@archive.vecf.org). 
b. Mixed Delivery grantees may used Mixed Delivery funds to support this effort. Questions about the use of funds should be sent to Alyson Williams (alyson@archive.vecf.org).
c. Smart Beginnings initiatives who receive funding from VECF will need to follow guidance related to TANF funding, as described in relevant Scopes of Work and attachments, before undertaking expenditures related to integrated financing. Questions about the use of funds should be sent to Alyson Williams or Emily Keenum.


9) My community is geographically large – should I convene separate groups or a regional collaborative?
a. The purpose for the collaborative is to promote discussion and integration within a relatively distinct community where families might seek care. Large-footprint communities may wish to hold collaboratives for geographically-distinct sub-communities, though the community should seek to include cross representation of provider types within meetings. Other communities, where there is great fluidity between continguous localities due to commuting patterns or the relative locations of neighborhoods and ECCE programs, might choose to convene groups representing more than
one locality.
b. For example, PDG B-5 communities composed of multiple counties may consider holding separate sessions for each county. Each of these communities would then submit its own self-assessment.


10) Can my Mixed Delivery Leadership Team or my Smart Beginnings Leadership Council serve as the collaborative that considers integrated financing strategies?
a. Some Leadership Teams and Leadership Councils will be well positioned to be part of a collaborative. However, leaders should ensure that they convene representatives from all relevant stakeholder groups.


11) Can I hold this session as part of my PDG B-5 community quarterly meeting?
a. Yes. However, you should ensure that at least one of each of the provider types listed previously are present at that meeting.


12) Who will see my community’s responses to this self-assessment?
a. Only members of the collaborative team will see community responses to this self-assessment unless your members choose to share beyond the group.


13) What if there are no providers of a certain type (e.g. Head Start) in my community?
a. If there are no providers of a certain type in the community, please note this in the self-assessment form.


14) How should my community decide on responses to the self-assessment?
a. Attendees should determine how best to arrive at decisions. We recommend that decisions represent consensus; however, other options (e.g. majority vote) may also be appropriate.


15) What should I do if a particular question on the self-assessment tool is not relevant to my community?
a. If a specific question is not relevant to your community or if none of the response options truly reflect your community’s response, please indicate this in the “Comments, Examples, or Evidence” box associated with each section. For instance, if no dual language learners live in your community, you may indicate this.


16) What should I do if providers attending the self-assessment session in my community cannot agree on responses to the self-assessment?
a. Before starting the self-assessment, be sure that all attendees agree on how the group will arrive at making decisions (e.g. consensus, majority vote) and that the facilitator honors this process.
b. If your community cannot agree on a response to a specific question on the self-assessment tool, please note this in the “comments” section of the appropriate section.

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